After The Rain
I asked Alicia to share with you all this week. I hope you enjoy her perspective on our week. Much love to you all from Renee in Haiti.
This past week here in Haiti has been quite eventful. Category 4 Hurricane Matthew hit the country, with the southern peninsula getting the brunt of it. Matthew took his time coming to us, which allowed the word to get out faster to those throughout town and in the villages who didn’t know that the storm was coming. Still, there were many that were not aware a hurricane was even about to hit. Late Monday night into Tuesday morning, he hit us with rain and wind that continued until late Tuesday night. Here at Militon, branches fell, mangoes torpedoed down to the ground, and the ocean swelled over our gates. Everyone staying here made it through the storm safely. Up at our Thozin campus, the school was transformed into a makeshift shelter for those out in the villages that did not have a secure place to stay in as the storm passed through. The grounds sustained some flooding out in the yard and through the gates into the street, and we had some minor leakage in our clinic pharmacy. A part of the church roof blew off, but the tin shingles were able to be salvaged and were replaced the very next day. We are thanking God that the damage here and at Militon was manageable.
In the villages down the road from Militon, damage was noticeable. There were large trees that had fallen, banana tree gardens had been flattened, and roads and homes were flooded. Many of the people living in that village rely on the things they grow in their garden to make money, and now that those have been damaged or destroyed, their livelihoods will be drastically impacted. One of our missionary friends who works in the mountains of Grand Goave, Tony Jones, reported that those in the mountains have lost “everything”. Houses, churches,
schools, livestock, and all the crops.
The day after the storm, Renee, Angie, Jephte, Cherubin, and I were able to go out into those villages and asses the damage. Thursday and Friday, Angie and I went out into the villages and did a food and clothing distribution. We were able to give out packages of rice and beans, as well as clothing for the children in the village. We talked with those we visited, listening to how they fared during the storm and asking what we could pray specifically for as they recovered in the aftermath. One point that Renee made earlier was that, though the southern peninsula got the brunt of the actual storm, effects of the storm will be felt all around the country. The capital, Port au Prince, relies on crops from this southern region to be sold at market there. Because of the extensive physical damage, from crops to transportation, cities like Port au Prince and others that depend on the southern region for food will be noticeably lacking in an already hungry nation.
Beyond Grand Goave and throughout the rest of the country, specifically the southern peninsula, reports are coming in about widespread devastation. The southwest “claw” of the peninsula is said to have the most amount of damage, and travel to those regions are difficult because bridges have been washed out and roads have been damaged. Cities and towns that we have heard sustained maximum damage, such as Dame Marie, Les Cayes, Jeremie, Port Salut, are currently in a fight for existence. We are learning of nationwide death tolls mounting into the 900’s, with reports saying that “90% of Haiti’s south has been destroyed” (BBC). Cholera cases have already begun to skyrocket, as a result of the unclean water that is all around.
What can be done? Well, already Mission of Hope International is seeing an abundance of support, encouragement, and donations. We are so thankful. So much work needs to be done, and we are prepared to do what God calls on us to do. If you are interested in supporting MOHI financially, please go to our website www.mohintl.org/donation. 100% of the money we raise goes directly to provide and positively impact the lives of those here in Haiti.
This week, we welcome a few people back to Haiti! Yesterday, our friend Cheryl Finn arrived. I only just met her yesterday, but have already experienced what a wonderful woman of God she is. She has worked with MOHI several times in the past, and will be focusing on bringing medical aid to those in the surrounding villages until her departure back to Massachusetts on Thursday.
On Tuesday, we welcome back our very own Pastor Lex! We are so excited to have him back on the ground here. MOHI isn’t the same unless we have BOTH Pastor & Madame Lex present!
Also this week, we will be missing our dear Angie as she visits her home in North Carolina for the week. The clinic will still be up and running, and we look forward to her return next Monday!
Renee and I came to the agreement last week that I could write this week’s blog. I knew that I would be writing about the occurrences of the upcoming week; I knew a massive hurricane was coming, I knew that there would be a lot of unknowns this week. I got as much of the details down as I could, and I took my laptop to Renee, asking if what I had written was a good amount of information. She told me that, in addition to the information, I could absolutely add whatever personal reflection I would like. I had a lot of internal reflections after this week, but I will only vocalize one that I think is worth sharing.
I would like to put my own personal thoughts forth about first world views on third world life.
Without a tragedy like that of the 2010 earthquake, or this past week’s Hurricane Matthew, life in a third world country seems extreme to those of us from a place like first world America. For people coming from a first world and witnessing third world life for the first time, we immediately see hunger, lack of healthcare, limited educational opportunities, and primitive infrastructure. This is also how some of the American media (though certainly not all of it) portrays it back at home. No wonder us first world people come into an environment like this and see what we see, how we see it; we have a preconceived bias. I saw a particular post on Facebook this week, though, that shatters any preconceived image of third world life, specifically Haiti:
If you insist on starting EVERY article about Haiti with “the poorest country [in] the Western Hemisphere”, respectfully add, “first independent black nation in the Western Hemisphere, first post-colonial independent black-led nation in the world and the only nation whose independence was gained as a part of a successful slave rebellion.”
Is Haiti the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere? Yes. Is hunger rampant, healthcare difficult to find, positive educational opportunities sometimes difficult to attain, and infrastructure, in some areas, primitive? Yes. Has tragedy struck this nation far more than it should have? Yes.
On the other hand, though, is Haiti, previously a slave country, now an independent country run by the descendants of those slaves? Yes. Are Haitians a proud people, who continue to fight back in all matters after the odds stack up against them? Yes. Do Haitians help Haitians get through tragedies, in addition to the others from the ‘outside’ who help? Yes. Is this country full of smart, intelligent children and adults who have a promising personal future, that can then build a promising national future? Yes.
I would like to challenge those of you reading this blog, those of you that support MOHI, those of you that have come to Haiti or hope to come to Haiti, those of you that pray for this country, like I have challenged myself. Support Haiti, donate to Haiti, come to Haiti, love Haiti, pray for Haiti; do it all with the mindset of coming alongside and serving the people of this nation as they better their own future. We must serve them, not with the view that they need it and we have it so we should give it, but with the view that it is what God calls all of us to do for each other. We are, all of us, God’s people, and we are told to love and serve each other. No matter where in the world we are, no matter what our economic status is, no matter the color of our skin God calls us to serve each other, because we ourselves have been served by God himself.
As human beings, we are not any better or higher up than the people we serve. We, on our own, are not making a difference; it’s when we give our hearts over to God that God then does the work through us. You can be a missionary here in Haiti, or in your own neighborhoods. Needs may vary, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, but there is always work to be done. Serve each other with the mindset that it is not you doing the work, it is not you making the difference; it’s God through you.