Posted January 17 2:30 AM
Re: the discussion on the return of Baby Doc to Haiti yesterday
My friend in Haiti made a powerful statement to me. “I hope the cost of political freedom hasn’t been too much for the Haitians?” Think about it… what if you had to choose between a tyrannical dictator and moderate prosperity or political freedom and severe poverty? What would you choose?
Posted January 12, 2011 4:19 PM
Remembering January 12
About this time last year, we were celebrating the award which Luke’s Mission had just received from Duke University for the MLK Community Caregiver of the Year. Not two hours later, 4 of our friends-Bosie, Jude, Oudel and Smith-would be dead–taken to heaven in a eye blinking momentary flash–along with 230,000 others. I read today that only 123 bodies were actually “recovered” before they called of the search and rescue efforts. How many times did I hear form people that their loved one went to work/school/store/church and just never came home. Their bodies now becoming part of the ground. What has God done through Luke’s Mission done in that time? I have traveled to Haiti more this year than in any other time in my work there. One time it was only for 36 hours–to get an important project off the ground. We have been the recipients of so many gracious gifts to assist the Haitians in rebuilding–from friends and those who are now new friends to us. It is clear that Haiti is much more a part of many people’s world this year than it was last year. Many people are interested and wanting to help.
We were able to build transitional shelters for the 65 orphans and 14 nuns in Fondwa at a time when their situation was desperate. Many thanks to Hands and Feet Project for their help with that. We have distributed nearly 500 household water filters which will provide clean water for thousands of people. In the middle of a cholera epidemic, this is nothing short of life saving.
We helped provide food and water for about 75 people affiliated directly with our ministry for 6 months while things stabilized. Your support helped us rebuild homes that several owned that were damaged in the earthquake.
I have worked as a relief worker in two disasters in the last year-doing first response work after the earthquake and more recently working treating patients in a cholera treatment center where we saw hundreds of patients in the acute phase of the disease.
I am deeply saddened today for many reasons. As one fellow NGO put it today–“Let’s not mince words here-the conditions [in Haiti] are grim.” Last night I saw one of the most honest documentaries I have ever seen which described the lack of substance in the governmental structures in Haiti, the lack of truthfulness in those in power and the lawlessness which pervades much of the country. It was a powerful thing to see it so completely truthful on such a broadly viewed arena.
Just this week people have specifically said to me that they are now aware of Haiti and the problems there now because of the ministry of God through us. They would have read the articles, been sad and then gone on with their lives. But now they pray and support the rebuilding efforts. I wish the earthquake had not happened but if it did, I wanted to use it to bring attention to the immeasurable suffering of our friends there-both before and especially after the earthquake..
Hope remains eternal, though. As Christians we can believe nothing less. And while I grieve Bosie, Jude, Smith and Oudel, not as those who have no hope (I Thes. 4:13), I grieve still. Today I claim for my friends in Haiti the passage in Job 11:18 which says “You will be secure, because there is hope.” You have been a model of persistence and faith to me. I can only hope that some small thing we at Luke’s Mission can do will make your lives just one bit better for all the suffering that you have endured–from no fault of your own.
January 10 9:26 AM This is the article the local paper did on my recent trip to treat patients in the cholera clinic.
Lukes Mission-Update on our waterfilters which were taken to Haiti December 29, 2010
To wipe away the tears of the sorrowing…
”Let the Church… be true to its commission; not great and elegant buildings; but to feed the hungry and clothe the naked and wipe away the tears of sorrowing, and gather jewels for His diadem.” Phineas Brisee, founder of the Church of the Nazarene
So much has happened this year.
One billion dollars in aid pledged to Haiti. Many countries sent relief workers and supplies to help with medical care and injuries as a result of the earthquake. Such an outpouring–I was privleged to be a part of. Individual people’s lives changed here as they became aware of the situation in Haiti both before and after the earthquake.
But what I can’t get out of my mind this Christmas morning is what hasn’t happened this year in Haiti.
While 65 orphans and nuns in Fondwa are living in clean and dry shelters, over one million people displaced because of the modern world’s worst natural disaster still have no shelters and are living under the tarps given to them now nearly a year ago. I will never forget the woman’s comment to me when we visited the tent city. I asked her what she saw as the next step in her life and she looked at me blankly and just said, “I don’t see anything else but living like this”.
While several thousand people have access to clean water through household filters we hav edistributed, over 120,000 people have contracted cholera and more than 2000 have died for the one an only simple reason—they didn’t have access to clean water.
As I write this note, an eleven million dollar hospital is being erected in Haiti by one of the most supported and reputable organizations that works in Haiti. But what hasn’t happened is the provision of clean water for the populous of a country where less than 60% have access to clean water and a cholera epidemic is the result. The hospital will be there to treat them when they get cholera but nothing of substance has been done to create a sustainable clean water snd sanitation system throughout the country. I just can’t help but keep wondering if the priorities might be mixed up.
An election has been held but what hasn’t happened is a reform of a chronically corrupt government that few including the international community trust. We are encouraged by relatively liberal minded activists who work in and for Haiti to involve the Haitian government in the rebuilding effort. But how can one have confidence in governmental officials where such a legacy of corruption and lack of caring for their own people exist? This is the biggest reason that hte pledged money hasn’t arrived in Haiti yet.
It has created a vicious cycle where NGO’s provide so much of the services that should be provided by the state but giving money to the state to do such only leads to none of the services being provided. Are we willing to waste valuable resources to use a model which clearly has been ineffective in the past? Most people want to see their money go directly to help the Haitian people. Luke’s Mission wishes so much we could work more closely with the governmental agencies but to date still find little if any benefit in doing so. And more times than not it has created more difficulty in implementing solid sustainable projects.
What hasn’t happened is a country being better off this Christmas than it was last Christmas. And in many ways is far worse off. The tent cities are just more slums in a country filled with some of the world’s worst slums.
People are suffering immensely less that 500 miles from our borders for lack of $45 water filter or a $100 latrine.
As I prepare to leave for Haiti in two days,I am not the least bit worried about contracting cholera–even as I prepared to work directly with the victims of this dreaded disease. Why? Because I am very confident in the cleanliness of my own food and water source while there.
My mind won’t leave alone what hasn’t happened in Haiti.
People often refer to the Haitian people as resilient. Certainly that could be a way to describe them. But what they don’t realize is that if they don’t go on, they will die–literally. Their “resilience” is not a choice–it is required for living.
These thoughts don’t take away from the work that has been done to change individual lives in Haiti–all of which many of you have been a direct part of.
Just a reminder to us all that it hasn’t ended. It really hasn’t even begun.
As we celebrate what has happened, let us not forget what has not happened and keep working together to make it happen.
I saw this on Friday night on TV and have been haunted by it. This woman had three of her children die for the simple reason that when they drank the water she had to give them, it caused diarrhea which led to their death. There is hope…ask me how to help.