Haiti in the Weeks that Followed
Traveling this past week in Haiti was a remarkable experience and probably one of the toughest trips I have ever made in my travels. Haiti was filled with an array of raw emotions for all on our team and when we returned to the states, everyone asked; “What was it like?” At first, I did not know how to reply, I stumbled for words looking for the right responses and in some cases holding back the tears. There would be times you would be so overwhelmed by the desperation and the next moment you would witness some of the greatest acts of kindness.
The children in the streets, the rubble, the tent cities, the sounds, the stench, just as the media had displayed images to the world, it’s all there. Even two months after the quake, there is very little change. The smell is almost overwhelming, the sites and the sounds are in full force. The devastation is almost incomprehensible when you are standing in the middle of a rubble filled street. Your mind trying to process the reality and the experiences as the world is in full motion around you. It’s overwhelming to say the least.
All I knew to do was pick up the camera and begin to do my job. Begin to capture life in Haiti as a country tries to reclaim itself. There were times I know I had an award winning shot within the scope of my lens but lowered my camera out of respect or just to see what was around me and before me.
There are so many remarkable stories to be told, so many extraordinary people we met. Our team was able to get food to 100 families, in a tent city of 10,000. A tiny contribution to a vast need, but to those families that day we helped make a difference and for at least a few days, “grangou” would not be a word they would need to use. For today, they would eat.
It’s those moments when you hand a bag of food to a person you have never met before and the expressions on their face, the tears that roll down their cheeks, the smile. Those are the moments when there are no language barriers. A simple act of kindness, a gesture of good will.
And sometimes, I still wonder who received the greatest gift that day.
There are things we witnessed, we saw, we experienced that I promise you there are no words for. The children in the orphanage, their needs, their futures. What does it hold? How many more kids have to become the lost children roaming the streets of Haiti or are forced to become restavecs. How many more weeks or months have to pass before the world realizes the emergency in Haiti has only just begun? There are so many questions that remain, so much work that still has to be done. As we ask these questions, we ask what next?
But as I stood among the tents, amidst the muck, walked down the allies and stumbled over rubble, there was one common event that continued to be found throughout the makeshift tent cities we passed. It is the people. Simply the people. For everyday the sunrises they sing as they praise God. For every night the sunsets, they sing and praise God. How remarkable! When your standing among devastation, destruction and death, now for nearly 60 days, and each morning they still sing. They still praise God.