Monday, March 1, 2010

Food Drop: Part One

This past week we've had a few friends in the neighborhood. Ryan and Adam, two friends from Texas, have been in Haiti with an NGO doing videography and photography. This past week they had a few days with no assignment, so they decided to live in a tent city in Petionville and make friends. Every few days they popped over to me and Ben's house for a bit. Friday night we ate dinner at fellow Quisqueya teacher Corrigan's house- wow, that man's love language must be burritos- yum.

Our friend Anna had just come in town from Texas, and all of us were asking the same questions: We have communities back in the States who are willing to donate money, labor, supplies, and prayer, and they keep telling us they want to help, but we're not sure exactly where to direct them. So we spent the last few days having many long conversations with people who run ministries in Haiti and doing research, learning more about TeacHaiti, the Apparent Project, a prefabricated home project by Maxima, and a shipping-container-turned-home project by Hope Contained, among other options. We're in the "information gathering" stage, and will spend the next few weeks praying earnestly for wisdom.
Our friend from Texas, Anna, joined Ben and I on Saturday for a very special project. Our friends Ryan and Adam had been a part of several food drops around the city and wanted to do one more. They had scouted a location, hired a driver, found a car, bought the rice, and employed several Haitian ladies to sort the giant rice bags into family-sized bags. I was very nervous, because food drops have often turned "pushy", to say the least. It was also threatening rain, and was much closer to dusk than I would've liked, but it was the only day we could do it, so off we went on a wing and a prayer.... or, a big yellow school bus and a prayer, as it turned out.
Starting to load the bus. The was SO MUCH rice. I got even more nervous when I realized the rice was visible out of the windows. But on we went...

Ben loading the giant bags of rice, each containing a dozen or so smaller family-sized bags.
We loaded the school bus up with rice at Ryan and Adam's friend's mom's school. The school was heavily damaged in the quake and is no longer operational.
Busted bus. 
Where they're currently holding school. Once again, praise God that Quisqueya was spared. I've begun to take that for granted as I walk this campus each day.
The tent city. The smoke is burning trash. This was not the original planned location, but as we drove down this dirt road, Ryan and Adam noticed that a tent city had sprung up on an empty hillside a little ways north of the city (just on the other side of Croix-de-Bouquet). We all immediately felt like this was the place- this was where we needed to go. After having driven through tent cities in Petionville and near the Airport earlier that day, I was starting to get the impression that most of the tent cities were getting more aid, fancier tents (all stamped with UNICEF or USAID or another logo). Heck, I had even heard of one tent city with televisions! But this place was rough.
The tents in this place were made of just sticks and sheets- even clothes. Notice the green piece of cloth at the bottom right of this pic- that's a pair of pants, seams ripped open, used to make a shelter tent. These homes probably wouldn't withstand a hefty gust of wind, not to mention a monsoon rain season. At one point Ben walked around and looked into some tents- not one pair of spare clothes, no stored water, no stored food. No pots or pans.
We noticed that even though the tent city was very new, there was a makeshift church set up in the middle. It was extremely modest- just a few benches under a blue tarp, held up by four sticks. As soon as there was a community, no matter how impoverished, they built a little church.

Ben and I were so excited to share the story of this food drop with you all that we practically fought over who got to blog first. So we compromised- I shared the first half, Ben will tell the rest of the story in part two tomorrow. Man, what a day. One of my best memories in Haiti so far. I was on a high after returning home.

But the joy didn't last long. It rained cats and dogs last night after we completed the food drop. Pouring, soaking rain. It did that again tonight. Not one of the shelter tents I saw was waterproof. They were bedsheets on sticks at best.

Those children that I held yesterday at 5 pm- the ones whose faces you see in the photo above- those kids were sleeping on mud at 9 pm. It makes me sick. It breaks my heart.

But, at least-
they weren't as hungry as before.



  1. ok, ok, I'm a blog-nerd! I have been checking yours and Anna's blogs all day to hear about the food drop. Ben, you'd better get writing soon. I want to hear more! :)

    But thanks so much for the first half of the story at least... I'm happy I checked one last time before heading to bed! The pictures of the kids and the tents are great. I can only imagine what awful conditions when it pours rain. How do you keep your kids from crying? Certainly no one can sleep. You wait for rain to stop, then the sun to dry everything out. How terrible! But what a wonderful testimony of Christian community that they have built a place for worship even in a tent city!!

    And as you said, at least they had fuller tummies in the rain!

    Praying for the joy of the Lord for you as you minister among these in their harsh conditions.

  2. Hi Katie & Ben,

    Thanks for all y'all are doing and keeping up the excellent blog. I just wanted to make sure you got my email. Have you had a chance to look it over? I am heading to Costa Rica for a mission trip in a couple days, so if you could let me know what you think by Wednesday, I'd appreciate it. I know you are very, very busy. Keep up the good work!

    Lane Murphy
    Writer, Baylor Magazine



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