Saturday, January 22, 2011


On Tuesday I accompanied Amy on a trip to Port with two of our children who needed to have catscans done.  I have only been to the airport in Port Au Prince, never anywhere else.  From the air I have seen the tent cities that still cover the landscape.  But from the air, I can't see the people, the children that live inside.  I can't judge the size of these tents, or the closeness of it all.  I can't see the living conditions inside of these areas.

But from the ground, I can get a better idea.  As we drove through Port in our air conditioned taxi, we drove past tent city, after tent city, after tent city.  They seemed to never end.  The entire area was covered in tents.  With two young children, I obviously didn't get out and explore, if I had I'm sure I would have been touched even more.  In some ways, I didn't need to entire these cities, seeing them from the road was real enough.

These tents aren't anything special, cheap tents that we could all buy at walmart for a few bucks.  I'm sure a lot of them have holes in them and leak when it gets wet.  Most were tiny 2-3 man tents, and I imagine that there are whole families of 5, 6,7 or more people living in their with all of their worldly possessions.  They aren't just staying in it for a weekend of fun, they have been living in there for OVER a year now with no hopes of anything changing in the near future.

These tents, aren't right next to a beautiful river or over looking a rugged mountain range like the tents Nick and I normally stay in.  They are on sidewalks, court yards, sometime right on the street.  They aren't secluded and by themselves.  They have about 6 inch to a foot in between them and their neighbors on EVERY side.  There is no privacy, no security, nothing, just them, their tent, and prayers for a better life for themselves and their children.

The doctors office we went to was right next to the Palace which was also kind of interesting to see.  The entire building basically collapsed, and still to this day has not been repaired or even cleaned up.  It's a reminder everyday of what happened.  Can you imagine if the white house collapsed and we did nothing to fix it.  Can you imagine if completely surrounding the collapsed white house were tent cities and people suffering.  It's unimaginable.

Looking around, there were still piles of rubble everywhere.  You could still see houses that had collapsed and are now sitting like accordians on top of each other.  Driving by, I wondered what it would have been like to be in these homes, to feel them shake.  I couldn't help but think that there could easily still be a body inside that was never recovered. 

At one point I thought about the scene from Saving Private Ryan where half of the house had been blown off and you could look right into the inside of the home.  This was the case many times, where half the home fell down and the other part still stood.  You could look right into where a family used to eat or spend time together.  Where are they now, probably in a tent somewhere.

There were house that fell over and were caught by the building next to them.  It appears that many of these buildings could still fall down at any minute, coming down on top of whom ever happens to be walking by at that moment.

As we drove through the city and I stared at all of the things that I could do nothing to help, but at the same time I held a little guy in my arms and stroked his head trying to get him to fall asleep.  I realized that I can't help those that I am seeing outside my window, but I can and am making a difference in the two little guys life in the car with us that day.  I held my little guy close thinking of how differently his life could be and thanking God for allowing us to be a small part of his story.  I have very high hopes for both of the boys that we were with that day and know that they are going to go far and surprise us all.

I was a little emotional as I stood behind the glass watching him lay, sedated, strapped to the table, receiving his cat scan while images of his brain flashed on the computer screen.  He's an amazing little guy that I have very much come to love, and here he is getting a cat scan, something that most Haitians could never dream of, especially people from our part of the country.  Getting to Port and then paying for the fees to have it done, are all way more than any of the people we work with could ever afford.

This whole trip was an eye opener for me.  Port au Prince has WAY more infrastructure than Cap Haitien, and it makes me feel like our area could get there soon too.  It opened my eyes to the fact that there is such a difference between being rich and poor in a place like this.  There is no way that about 95% of the population could ever afford such tests, but for those who can, their lives are way different.  I dont know if any of this makes sense, but it was all a bit much to take in that day and I'm glad I was able to be a part of it.  More importantly, I am thankful for every child that we get to help and spend time with.

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