Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Weeping for Haiti
I spent a good portion of today reading news reports about the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti yesterday. Unlike most of the disasters that flit by on our TV screens, this one hits home for me. Three years ago, I traveled to Haiti with a church group. It was one of the best experiences of my life. I suppose thinking in these terms is a bit myopic - e.g., this disaster has special meaning for me, because I've actually been to the place where it's happening. But there you have it.
One thing I realized on my trip to Haiti is that before I'd been there, I'd always imagined it as a place with very little joy. I assumed because of the crushing poverty there that the people would be perpetually unhappy. I couldn't have been more wrong. The people there are beautiful and kind. But most importantly they are people - with joys and sorrows and flaws. It was so important for me to realize that. They are people like me. That made it harder for me to think of them as someone else's responsibility.
A ton of thoughts have been running through my head all day. Like, I didn't know Haiti was on a major quake fault. And I'd forgotten how many aid organizations are working in Port-au-Prince. And how can Holy Trinity Episcopal cathedral and school be gone? Not being in Haiti as this happens, I know I can't fully wrap my mind around the full scope of this disaster. Like others, I will pray and send money, even though I know that's not nearly enough.
I've included some photos from my trip to Haiti in this post, even though looking at them today was bittersweet. I'm posting them because I want people to know that Haiti is not just a morass of poverty and despair. It's a place with people who love and laugh and hope and cry. Today, they are mostly crying and I share in their grief.