OK I know I haven't posted a blog for quite awhile and January is almost finished. I got back in Haiti on January 3rd after taking a 3 week Christmas break. It seems like I have been going non stop since getting here and most nights I'm ready to go to bed by 7:30. Since we have guests I usually don't turn in till 9:00. I've had intentions of sitting down and doing a blog on several occasions but my creative writing skills if any have been slow in coming for this new year.
Heather Elyse the new director of GAP Ministry showed me the blog she posted last evening, she arrived in Haiti on Tuesday and now resides in a house here at Borel. You can read her blog post at GAP-Haiti.blogspot.com. Heather's blogs tend to be humorous, she use to make her living writing commercials, mine are usually more on the serious side. Anyway after reading her posting this morning I knew I could not procrastinate any longer, I needed to post something and hopefully it jump starts my writings for 2011.
YOU SEE THINGS AND SAY, "WHY?"
I DREAM THINGS THAT NEVER WERE AND I SAY, "WHY NOT?" G.B. SHAW
Why is it that Haiti has a hold on some of us? We could be anywhere we want doing what we please in comfort and safety. To the uninitiated it is a country of chaos but on closer observation you realize it is orchestrated chaos-there is a purpose behind it. Everywhere you go there are people, many are crammed in the back of Tap Taps, small dilapidated pickups spewing black smoke as they sputter along with their heavy loads. Like the people and the country , they should have ceased to exist years ago but somehow they hang on year after year.
There are people walking, sitting or standing on the edge of the road at all hours of the day or night. Haiti is a nation that walks everywhere , it still moves it's commerce on the backs or heads of it's population. Donkeys and horses are the heavy haulers . It seems the nation is never quiet nor at rest.
Once you see beyond the people, it is the trash and garbage that catch your eye. One has to imagine the country was a lot cleaner looking before plastic bottles, bags and Styrofoam were introduced. What does a country do that doesn't have garbage pickup and landfills? You discard it as soon as your done using it in the ditches, open sewers and rivers waiting for a rain to wash it out to sea. If your somewhat conservation-minded you burn it. Either way Haiti overwhelms you with a potpourri of smells as you travel along it's roads, city streets and paths. The trash is usually piled along the roads and the smoldering fires billow up a smoke that is a hazard to your health. As you pass through some city areas the smell of urine lingers in the air as public restrooms either don't exist or are too toxic to enter. The smoke of cook fires along with the smell of cooking food can stimulate one's appetite if you keep your eyes shut to the surroundings.
If you haven't decided to cut your trip short and head back to the airport, you've probably made it to the outskirts of Port au Prince, the capital city of over 2 million people. By then you have driven out beyond the haze of vehicle fumes, the smoke of trash and charcoal and you notice the mountains. Even though mostly sheared of all vegetation they are still beautiful. You gaze up at the peaks covered by clouds and you can for a brief moment imagine the beauty of God's creation. Looking down from an airplane gives you the stark reality that the once fertile land has been abused for too long. The mouths of the rivers and streams run brown spilling tons of soil miles out to sea every time it rains.
These are just the things that are obvious. Stay awhile and you will get a feel of the undertow of voodoo as it pulls it's populous down with fear and superstition. Don't get me wrong--voodoo is real. People practice it, they believe in it, they give sacrifices, people die, not from it but because of it. It's real power lies in the fear that permeates the Haitian culture from hundreds of years of enslavement to its practices.
Then there are the disasters both natural and man made. They put Haiti in the news at least several times every year. Hurricanes, earthquakes, mudslides, flooding, riots, food shortages, Aids, cholera and political unrest. When one thinks the country can sink no further and that better times lie ahead it seems something else happens.
My life has never been to dwell on the negative but to look at what positive opportunities they present. So when I look at all the negatives that Haiti presents to not only it's inhabitants, visitors and NGO's I never think or say "why ?" Instead I like to think "why not?" Doesn't our God always provide another way for us ? When it seems "there is no other way, God will provide a way"-- His way.
In God's love, SJM