There’s something about having been to a place, of having your own pictures of a place, that makes someone else’s tragedy very much your own. My first overseas experience was the summer I spent in Haiti on a mission trip back in 1981. The mission where we were working was not too far outside of Port-au-Prince. While most of my pictures reflect the poverty, the dirt, and grim living that personifies Haiti, I have one picture, a picture of the presidential palace, that does just the opposite. It has been difficult for me to look at the images that are coming out of Haiti. To read of the expected death toll and to be a distant witness to the horror is heartbreaking and frustrating.
I remember Franc, who was a delightful and gregarious 12 year old back then. Look at that face. Doesn’t it make you smile???
Franc would be in his 40’s now and with a family of his own most likely. What is his fate? And there was Marquise.
She was a sad and distant 16 year old when i met her. What of her? Life in Haiti for most, at its best, is about survival. What now? I find myself searching the pictures for faces I recognize. But of course, after all these years I wouldn’t know the faces of the people I knew back then now if I saw them. But buildings don’t change much. And we know from our own American experiences that buildings have “faces” and evoke emotions when we see images of them being obliterated.
Most of the buildings I saw when I was there were simple, one or two stories, nondescript and not memorable. Only one building was one that I would even remember if I saw again. This was the presidential palace. Even it did not survive.
The presidential palace of Haiti as I saw it in 1981, above.
The presidential palace of Haiti as it is today, below.
Pray for Haiti as the situation evolves. Pray for Haiti as the days turn in to weeks. Pray that those who have managed to survive the earthquake will not starve waiting for help…will not die from the diseases that inevitably gain a foothold after these sorts of natural disasters…will not lose whatever hope they might have left. Pray that somehow, some way, Haiti will rise from the rubble a better place for those who call her home. Pray that there will be peace in the midst of this chaos.
And, as you hear the stories coming out of Haiti, and learn of the needs that need filling, if it’s within your power, be a part of assisting the Haitian people as they begin the long struggle of recovery from this horrific tragedy. While Haiti is a world away when you consider how life is lived there, Haiti is only 750 miles from Florida. Haiti is a closer neighbor to many of us in America than we are to ourselves. Consider helping this neighbor, like you would your own.