Living with Haiti

Sitting in the airport waiting for my flight back home I’m introduced to another class of Haitians – designer boots, neon yellow stiletto sandals, dyed hair, and traveling with their families to and from the country. Even in the airport in Haiti I start to return to so called “developed” society.

Sitting on the airplane I get my second dose of “reality” as I marvel at the personal screens for every seat and listen to a voice telling me, “Even while in the air you don’t have to miss what’s on the air.” And so from the moment I land back in the States I begin comparing what I’ve always taken for granted to what I saw and experienced in Haiti.

It’s been three full days now since I got back from my mission trip to Haiti and I’m discovering that there’s a lot of adjusting to do right here at home. Even driving back from the airport provided food for thought.

Smooth roads to the rubble and trash filled streets. Houses and lawns that are mansions to the compact tent cities that stretch farther than the eye can see. Grocery stores with more food than one of my Haitian orphans have seen in his lifetime. Children at school. Parents at work. Malls. Playgrounds, and the list keeps growing.

Someone told me before I left that Haiti would give me new eyes to view the world with. They were right. Now when I see pictures of my chubby little niece I see little Fabiola struggling to hold her head up. Now when I sit at my desk to study for exams I see that young man with his eyes wide, amazed and envious that I am finishing a college degree. Now when I sit down to eat I can hear that young mother with her toddler and new born baby telling the sisters over and over again, “We haven’t eaten. We haven’t eaten.”

I’m not haunted by these memories. On the contrary, recalling them helps me to appreciate more all that I have… and now I can see better than ever that I have a lot.

I think it is all a matter of perspective. This wasn’t a field trip that I took, it was a mission. The questions that I’m bombarded with of “what’s your favorite experience” always leave me at a loss of words. When you come face to face with human suffering I don’t think “favorite” is the word to describe it. Every experience in Haiti was life changing, but so difficult to fully put into words. How can I make anyone totally understand what “my little babies” in the orphanage mean to me or have done for me?

All I can say is that if you don’t know what I’m talking about or you haven’t had an experience like this before: go. I’m living with Haiti in my heart and I’m a better person for it.

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Printed from: http://live.regnumchristi.org/2012/01/living-with-haiti/ .
© Legionaries of Christ 2014.

1 Comment   »

  • Allison K. Logsdon says:

    It was amazing to read this and be able to see that someone else understands. I was in Petionville, Haiti (about an hour up the mountains from Port au Prince for a week on a mission trip. We worked with God's Littlest Angels orphanage, and spent most of the time at the baby house (60 children, ranging in age from preemie to 18 months)
    When I got back, people kept asking me what it was like...and even though I would try to explain what I saw, I knew that they wouldn't understand. The conditions in Haiti are like nothing I could have ever imagined. We hear stories about people drinking "dirty water" but it didn't seem realistic until I saw people gathered around mud puddles filling up their jugs for water...
    Sometimes it is hard being back here in the states. I left my heart with the little babes in Haiti, and it is so hard to explain to someone who has never been there...

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