Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Haiti Chronicles: Conflicting Anticipation
Why go to Haiti?
The woman asking me this stands with me at a ticket counter in the Miami Airport. She scrunches her nose as she asks. Like she's smelling something bad.
Well, I'm not sure why I am going to Haiti. So I say simply, "I'm a volunteer, at a medical clinic."
"Oh," she snarls, as if what I've said is distasteful. Her nose is still scrunched. "Relief ... You are a relief worker. It's not my idea of a vacation."
She walks away and I think about her words. No. This is not a vacation. But what is it? I am going to Haiti for one week with a small nonprofit called Stone by Stone that supports a medical clinic and school in Desab, a remote village about seven miles straight up a mountainside. I have no idea what I will be doing. No idea how I can help. I have no special skills. I am not a doctor or nurse, a construction worker or a teacher.
I'm just me. A retired newspaper editor.
I get my boarding pass and join a busy waiting room where blocks of colorful T-shirts create a comfort quilt. The T-shirted people huddle together, yet separately. There's an orange group, a yellow one, then green and blue. Through casual conversations I learn:
The largest group is the orange one: Juniper Community Missions, a church-planting group from outside Harrisburg, PA, heading to Leone, Haiti. I count about 12 of them.
The yellow group is BeLikeBrit.org, which built an orphanage in Grand Goave, Haiti. (The birth of this non-profit is heartbreaking.) I see, maybe, nine?
The green shirts are from Children's-Hope out of Montgomery, AL, which runs an orphanage in Jacmel.
The smallest are the blue shirts, a husband and wife, first timers with Mission for Haiti, also heading to Jacmel.
They are as perplexed as I about their purpose. "We don't know what we will be doing. All we know is we have a heart for people and we want to help."
Thank you, Blue
Now I know why I am going to Haiti.
NEXT: Ascending from Port au Prince