Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hell in Haiti




A year ago my wife and I were in Haiti for 2 weeks on a mission trip. Within 24 hours I was ready to return home. On a good day, Haiti is hell. The depth of poverty is unimaginable. There is U.S. poor and then there is Third World poor. No comparison. Most Haitians have nothing and look forward to nothing--on a good day. It's oppresive. Thousands and thousands of people who have no idea where or what their next meal will be. No running water, no electricity. Life there is harsh and raw. We were walking through a large outdoor market. Very crowded, shoulder to shoulder. I noticed up ahead that people would either step to the left or right a few paces and then converged again. Another ten steps and I see a corpse lying in the main walkway. People are nonchanlantly walking around this dead man as they continue looking for fresh fruit and vegetables. Apparently, this man had attempted to steal something and a mob beat him to death, and went about their business. The flies had started gathering by the time I saw him. Just another day in hell.

The suffering is unparalleled. The hygiene deplorable. The hope for the future bleak. And that's on a good day.

And now the earthquake has hit. There will be no such thing as a "good" day for a long, long time. Years, if ever. The devastation is apocalyptic. The news showed a bulldozer with its large bucket scooping up dead bodies from a pile, turning, and dropping them into a dump truck which then was going to haul them to a mass grave.

Haiti needs OUR help. If you haven't already, I ask you to contribute financially to provide them relief. There are a number of credible relief organizations to which you can contribute. I suggest the Red Cross as an agency that is not faith-based. Several organizations faith-based in nature are World Vision, Samaritan's Purse, and Crisis Response International. Go to their respective websites to contribute.

I would like to go to Haiti in the coming weeks or months to directly provide hands-on relief. Please let me know if you become aware of others doing so, and I will try to keep you apprised of the situation. as well.

The photo that heads this blog is one I took of two children at the orphanage we worked in a year ago. They form a lasting impression. Please don't forget them.

8 comments:

Tim said...

And when we think our lives are bad, we should realize how utterly lucky we are. I teach about Maslow's Self Actualization and how if basic life sustaining needs are not met one really has no chance of going further up the hierarchy. I have often thought about the Haitians when discussing it. I didn't think they could go much further down that triangle drawn on the board but they have. My spirit cries for them. I gave to the Red Cross because it was easy, dial 90999 and text Haiti to give just ten dollars.
Tim

JGanschow said...

Why did it take a devastating earthquake for the world to respond to a county with 50% unemployment and 80% poverty?

When will we look past the end of our own driveways at the need sleeping in the streets...

Steve said...

JGanschow, You pose two very sobering questions. Author Donald Miller believes that we change, typically, not by choice, but due to necessity or force. I hope we don't have to undergo some seismic shaking of our own foundations in order to open our eyes and hearts to our impoverished neighbors.

Tim said...

Steve,
What do you think is going to open our hearts and eyes to those in need?
Tim

JGanschow said...

Tim,
In my experience, it occurs by taking a little step. From our couch of comfort and into the reality of those that are suffering. Maybe that happens when someone already on the front lines asks you directly to join them in the effort. Maybe it happens by seeing it again and again from the couch. But once you are in it, and relationships are formed with the people that were once only images on a tv screen, you will never again be the same. You can't ignore it anymore. Your soul won't allow it.

Tim said...

JGanschow,
So true, it's hard to ignore and more so dislike someone you come to know.
Tim

Steve said...

Tim, in answer to your question you posed on 1/19,I have little to no confidence in the culture-at-large opening its eyes and hearts to those in need. It will happen when a catastrophe such as the Haiti earthquake occurs, but I believe the life of consumption and acquisition will shortly return and life as we knew it will resume. I know you and I have quantum worldview differences; I believe the church-at-large carries the greatest hope of effecting that kind of change of vision and heart. And its track record is certainly marked with injustice it has perpetrated rather than fought. Nonetheless, if the church chooses to get out of its collective comfort zone and if we were to acquaint ourselves with those in need, if we were to back off telling and cramming our story and, instead, listening to the stories of the marginalized, I think that would begin to open our eyes and hearts.

Tim said...

Steve,
I agree that society, especially Western society is not going to open itself to those in need. Everyone thought things would change following the 911 attacks. People believed a spirit of community and helping others would sustain because America now had a “common enemy”. I fully expected the flag waving and altruism to die quickly and it did. There was no moral change, only a temporary reactive change that doesn’t last. Consumption, acquisition, immediate gratification and downright hedonism rule in our capitalist realm. A common catastrophe brings people together, usually, but I don’t think it is ever sustainable in days of late. As far as our “quantum worldview differences”, I don’t know how far apart they are. I totally believe the church would be fully capable of effecting the moral change needed to maintain a climate of open minds, caring and helping others. I love the idea of a spiritual fellowship of people who gather together to do good. We may have vastly differing believes about God but not about church. I have often said to friends that I wish I could join a church that didn’t believe in God, because I don’t believe in God. I don’t mind that others do but I would certainly be out of place. As far as why the church is in a comfort zone to begin with, in a box…. the church is comprised of people from the culture of “let’s be comfortable as much as we can and we want it now.” How can the general climate of the church be changed? A catastrophe isn’t going to do it, I don’t think. Why aren’t the church goers all like you and your wife? Why are you like you are? The answer to that is what would be the answer to the solution to what this is about. Isn’t it?
Tim