Today is the anniversary of the earthquake. For the past week H2H has held daily prayer & crusade meetings with tonight being the final one. Tonight’s service was sober with much time spent reflecting on God’s power and mercy.
I have spent the last week remembering those first few days after the earthquake… I remember feeling incredibly inadequate. I remember not being able to pull Guetine out from under the rubble when the guesthouse fell on her. I remember returning from Port-au-Prince empty handed and seeing the disappointed faces of the hungry kids. I remember hearing that Kaka was killed. I remember thinking no one knows what’s happening to us.
But thinking of all those dark times made me realize once again how faithful God has been and how He walked beside us the entire way. He huddled with us on the soccer field that first night. He cried with us as we heard the fate of family and friends. He drove with us to Port-au-Prince in search of food. He touched the hearts of thousands of people allowing them to help us… starting with the US Marines.
This afternoon I was asked to share my thoughts in an interview with a Canadian newspaper, here were my thoughts…
“I had been living in Haiti full time for almost 5 years leading up to the earthquake and had become engulfed in the culture so I was not surprised by the perseverance the Haitian people showed in the brutal months following the earthquake. They are truly courageous people who have learned to survive in conditions that would make most North Americans want to give up. My respect for the people has deepened as I see the way they care for their neighbors when they are barely able to care for themselves. I was also not surprised by the inability to pull together as a nation and use this horrific experience to jumpstart a new start for the country. With so much aid promised from the world it would have been a perfect opportunity to rebuild for a new future. But leadership here is so incapable that it seems like the only progress being made is made by individuals or groups that can stand on their own feet & have resource streams that they can personally control. H2H is a good example of this. We were able to control our donated funds directly and, as a result, we have made huge progress this past year. Here’s some of what we’ve accomplished: we’ve rebuilt our exteriors walls, built temporary structures while simultaneously rebuilding permanent structures, sent/received 10 containers of aid supplies, hosted 10+ teams (construction, medical, educational, etc) from North America, and expanded our capacity to take in 10+ orphans from Port-au-Prince.
Our efforts have been slowed down in the past few months due to the cholera outbreak – this is a disease the Haitians had never seen before. It was devastating. People got sick in the morning and died that same day. The initial reaction was horrific. Families were forced to turn out and abandon those that got sick for fear of the cholera passing through their whole family. Hospitals refused to take in patients showing symptoms of cholera for the same reason. Many people died alone in the streets or in the portable toilets around the tent cities. People are learning to cope but our rebuilding efforts have been slowed down. So far, our kids have not gotten sick and we have worked very hard to keep them safe. We have limited the flow of people into our compound, have established hand washing stations through out and have raised our cleanliness standards to include a lot more bleach and a lot more education. In some ways the fear of cholera is harder for our kids than the fear of the earthquake – the earthquake was uncontrollable and unpredictable and there was very little they could do to improve their fate but the cholera is the opposite – people have the ability to protect themselves and knowing that puts stress on them because it requires action. Many of those actions (i.e. buying bleach) are an expense that many Haitians cannot afford and raises the sense of frustration they feel in not being able to protect their family. There is also a brighter side with regard to the cholera epidemic… it forces a new understanding of the need for better hygiene, clean water and proper food preparation, which are major steps in giving hope for a better life for the next generation of Haitians.
Even though we have made progress this year, there is still a lot to do around our compound to get it back to where it used to be. We are raising money to rebuild a permanent school, kitchen, church and guesthouse. We also have new children that still need sponsorship. Information about our program & our current needs are on our website: www.hearttohearthaiti.com. I am also still blogging about our day-to-day life here at H2H: www.rebeccalarkin.blogspot.com.
Today, being the anniversary of the earthquake, has been a sober day – schools and businesses are closed – and many people have spent the day, even the week, in prayer and fasting. In the midst of the grief and desperation there is much to be thankful for and we are holding on to that. I’m attaching a picture I just took at our “memorial service” – tonight we will be sleeping outside… as we did for months following the earthquake… we will pray for those who lost loved ones and for the future of Haiti.”