We are in our third day in Haiti now and God continues to teach us new things about this wonderful country and the people who call Haiti home.
Last night we had a delicious Haitian meal of goat stew. The stew was absolutely delicious and the meat was incredibly tender. After dinner we had a team conversation where we debriefed our day. We spent a lot of time talking about global poverty and why aid hasn’t been the solution for most third world countries. We watched a fantastic video from PovertyCure about the failure of aid programs over the decades. If you’d like to watch it, I’ve included the video here:
I woke up in the middle of the night last night with the start of a migraine. Anyone who suffers with migraines knows the importance of getting ahead of your migraine. I didn’t. I had no migraine medication with me and on our way to Luly, the city where we were to meet with schools and local leaders, I had to have the van pull over. My migraine got the best of me. I lost last night’s dinner and today’s breakfast on the side of the road. There was an old Haitian woman who happened to be walking by and she felt compelled to stand next to me during this little ordeal. It was so sweet. She couldn’t speak my language, but her eyes were full of compassion. One of the pastors would describe it as the most poignant moment of the trip for him so far. After this little adventure it was back to the van for our ride to Luly, and a little fishing village where Food for the Hungry is trying to work with local fisherman to help them improve their efficiency. You can see some of the yellow Food for the Hungry boats towards the back of this picture. This village located on the edge of the ocean was full of conch shells. World Wide Village has been asked to consider taking this program over from Food for the Hungry.
From the fishing village we went to a local clinic that WWV helps run. We met a wonderful nurse whose grandmother ran the clinic for a couple decades many years ago. Her husband serves as the doctor. It was here that we heard about a way that international aid can hinder good in a community. This clinic has trouble drawing patients (they charge $5 per patient, plus medication) because American medical teams come once a month and offer free clinics. These clinics often misdiagnose the problems, or don’t have the medication to treat the problem so folks leave with Tylenol and vitamins. In the meantime U.S. trained Haitian doctors, nurses and pharmacists could be helping Haitians. It’s an interesting problem. I was impressed with the work that is being done here. I was also grateful to be able to receive some much needed Excedrin from the clinic.
We then went to a school that is operated by WWV in Luly. This school has ample space, great teachers, a beautiful facility. When WWV built the school about $140,000 was poured into the project. I am amazed at what $140,000 can build in Haiti. God is using this Christian school to educate over 200 students. There is room for the school to grow to over 400 students. The children loved seeing our team and it was a beautiful day.Unfortunately, my migraine prevented me from getting to interact with anyone at the school. While our team toured the facility I took a nap in the van. By the time they came back the migraine was gone. Team prayer and some great medicine helped bring relief.
After the school it was off to lunch. Randy Mortensen, the head of World Wide Village likes people from the U.S.A. to see the beauty of Haiti. So, he took us to the Wahoo Bay Resort in Luly. This beautiful resort was mostly empty today, but it is growing in popularity. A hotel room cost just $35 a few years ago. Now it costs about $140 a night to stay in one of the 24 or so rooms. We had a good lunch and it was here that we heard the earthquake stories of our three interpreters, who we have grown to love.
I listened as they shared with tears in their eyes about what it was like to live through that devastating quake that took the lives of over 300,000 Haitians. They shared about family members who were lost and told me the story of jumping into the rubble to pull body after body out. One of the most interesting things they said was that in the month after the quake, 90% of Haitians turned to God. There was a national period of prayer and fasting that was called for. Churches were full. God was at work. And then, with tears in his eyes, Patrick told me that the people just forgot about God. He said that within a month spiritual lives went back to normal with apathy and some anger towards God. It reminded me of the days after the 9/11 tragedy in our own country. Churches were full in the days that followed. Our nation was unified. And then . . .Our country unified in the loss of 5,000 or so Americans. I can’t picture what it is like to lost 300,000 and see so many homes, business and lives destroyed.
After lunch we began our drive back to Port au Prince. We had one more stop to make. It was to the original home that World Wide Village built after the 2010 quake. We met a wonderful family who have maintained and improved upon the WWV house. This house was built for $8400. I love the way that WWV builds a home. Haitians do the work, creating jobs for Haitian people. The homeowner pays for part of the home, taking out a mortgage. In the case of this home the homeowner pays $24 a month. This helps improve self-esteem and gives pride in ownership. There is much more that can be said about this. U.S. teams can work alongside of Haitians in constructing the homes, but it is under the direction and authority of the Haitians.
From here it was back to home base. This meant another ride through the busy streets of Port au Prince, which is unlike driving I have seen anywhere else in the world. The sheer number of people located in a small space with no real traffic lights is an surreal experience. On our drive today we saw a motorcycle run into a a group of students (no one was injured), a motorcycle trying to get through a flooded street see it’s front wheel get caught in a storm drain that was missing a cover (and almost flipping the bike over and passenger almost thrown off), we saw dog run over, and countless close calls. Every day riding these streets is an experience!
I’ll leave you with an odd picture. We think that this is dried sea cucumber, something that the people of Luly are exporting to China. The people of Haiti are trying to find any way that they can to break the cycle of poverty. I am excited about what the future holds for these wonderful folks.Tomorrow we will be heading to an orphanage where Darrin Geier and I will meet Stanley and Davinsly, two young boys who are being adopted by families at Woodbury Community Church. We will be bringing them some photographs and gifts from their families. Can’t wait to see them.I will post the rest of today’s pictures on my Facebook page before the night is over. Thank you for your prayers!