We witness a miracle each time a child enters a life. But those who must make their journey home across time and miles, growing in the hearts of those waiting to love them, are carried on the wings of destiny. And placed among us by God's own hands.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Reality

Here begins my Haiti travel log. I need to put this in writing. Not only so that I never forget, which of course I never will, but also to help me cope. I also feel that I need to spread this message. The world has seen the pictures of Haiti and has responded but there is still an enormous amount of work to be done. Tonight there was a news station from New York filming right outside our hotel door, no kidding. They are here because Clinton is in Haiti as well as some big group to train the Haitians in disaster response. I have mixed feelings about that when basic needs are still not being met and things are ending up in the wrong hands. After arriving to our hotel yesterday we promptly left our bags in our room and loaded back into the car for a tour of downtown Port au Prince and the adjacent slum area. I really can’t properly put into words the devastation that is here. We have visited (what used to be) the poorest country in the world and honestly the state of this city looks worse. There is garbage piled up everywhere on the sides of the street and in the drainage ditches. The poorer area of town was not as impacted by the earthquake as the housing structures are primarily made out of tin and wood but the disorganization, crime and poverty is extreme. Prostitution is common here and this is the part of town where most of the children at the orphanage come from.

Within the city center the buildings are either completely crumbled, partially standing or some intact but leaning to the side. People are still working and mingling among these structures. There are no fenced off areas to keep people away from unstable structures and no construction equipment. There are growing piles of rubble on the sides of the street often blocking one lane. Haitians were told to pile their rubble along the street and that crews would come pick it up. It is an excruciatingly slow process and happening by hand. The scene in downtown Port au Prince looks like something from a movie, it is truly unbelievable. Among the rubble there are people everywhere. They are selling their goods on the side of the road, pushing and pulling carts by hand, women carrying huge loads on their heads, and children playing. What fragile infrastructure that was in place in Port au Prince prior to the earthquake has been torn apart after. Many of the government and school buildings including the college were destroyed. This also means that many of the leaders, educated professionals, and university students were killed in the earthquake.

Of course most obvious also are the huge tent villages all over the city. We are on the second floor at our hotel and from our balcony we can see a hillside of destroyed homes and an adjacent large tent city. The noise and music from the tent city goes on all night. There are children and entire families living in these makeshift homes. I really can’t imagine how anyone gets any sleep. And now there is the rain, both days it has started in the afternoon and rains pretty heavily for a short time. I can’t imagine how these little tents sitting so close together on the dirt are going to withstand the rainy season. I worry about the most vulnerable people; the children, the elderly, the disabled, how will they survive the conditions and the disease that may result? Maybe moving large groups of people out of the city is the solution, but then the adults need a place to work, the children need a place to go to school, and there needs to be accessible medical care and transportation. It is going to take a lot of work, a lot of planning, a lot of resources and some intervention from above to get this country repaired.

* All pictures copyrighted (2010)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for keeping us updated on your travels. You continue to be in our thoughts and prayers. -- Jenny S @ FOC