Soon after returning to Washington D.C. after the Haiti trip in January I wrote a piece for another organization’s publication. In it I said that there were too many stories in Haiti to give justice to the reality down here. But it is in the individual Haitian that we can best understand the tragedy, the needs and how best to respond. Here are just a few from the people we met yesterday…
William’s our driver, before the quake he was a tennis instructor at the hotel we are staying. He has five children, the two oldest live in the U.S., the other three live with him at the hotel, on the tennis court where he once taught, with the rest of the staff who have lost their homes in the quake. When I asked William what his children do while he works he says, “ahhh…nothing.”
Henry is the bishop at a church in Petonville. After the quake he had 600 people living in the small parking lot at the church. He carefully helps provide what he can to everyone, the 600 people who lived at the church, the members of his congregation, his family, and the children who are sponsored by the organization he runs. Everyone. All 600 people have moved off the parking lot, Henry’s church provided them with tents to live where their homes once stood. He’s angry about the lack of progress since the quake. Yesterday afternoon, determined to show us the lack of progress, he takes us to his mother-in-laws home. All of the exterior walls fell during the quake, remarkably the roof still stands, thanks to two interior walls. Henry, trying to do everything he can, got his mother-in-law to take in one of the children orphaned by the quake.
Roberto worked at a hotel in Port-au-Prince prior to the quake. Since the quake he was laid off, the hotel doesn’t have as many guests so they don’t need him. He’s a single father of a three month old boy (obviously born after the quake), his wife left him and his son days after the birth of their first child. He’s the most loving father’s I’ve met in my life.
John and Mimi are siblings, nine and four respectively. They lost both their parents in the quake and they were separated, unaware that the other was living. John has been living at an orphanage since the quake. His sister was receiving medial treatment by another organization. They were reunited for the first time since the quake two days ago. Workers who were in the room when they were united say that they cried, and cried.