Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Trying to process a weekend spent in a beat-up Toyota

Our time the last 5 days has evaporated like water on the ground in the afternoon sun here in Haiti. We had an exploratory team in from the church where we attend small group in Dallas. I really enjoyed seeing some familiar faces and liked sharing what limited knowledge I have about my new city. But at the end of it I felt poured out. I was dehydrated (but better fed than I have been in months), and exhausted.

I have been thinking about the next few blog entries for awhile. I wondered how to tell the story of what I had seen in a way that makes sense to anyone. I feel an obligation to communicate what is going on in Port-au-Prince, but it is my biggest fear that I am an ineffective storyteller.

The Weekend:
My companions' flight was late. I got to spend some real quality time at the airport and at some point I will write a blog just about picking someone up from the airport here. It is one of the more chaotic, yet memorable, experiences in PAP.

The team had a schedule that was cute, really. They had meetings scheduled roughly one hour apart, in parts of the city that were at least two hours apart with light traffic. We quickly accepted that timing was going to be off all weekend and just went with the flow.

Their itinerary meant that we would be criss-crossing PAP for two days. I was interested to see some areas that I had not visted yet like Carrefour and the epicenter, Leogane. Thinking about this afterward I wonder what I was excited about. Right now, everything in this city looks the same to me. Every block looks like the last. Standing houses, fallen houses, tents on streets, inquisitive stares. I went to Leogane and saw the same things I have seen off Delmas. The only thing that changed were the street names.

Every time I go out, I see more clearly how vast and colossal the problems are here in Port-au-Prince. Every time I think I have my head around them, I end up on another drive around the city and get a reality check.

There is great local leadership, but no national leadership. There is little communication regarding how to implement goals made at meetings in Miami, New York and Washington, DC. I have thought a lot about New Orleans lately, and how after Katrina it took years to get that city in a condition that was acceptable and even now it still shows scars. That happened in the richest country in the world. This quake happened in the poorest country in the western hemisphere. How can things get back to normal, how can Haiti rebuild at a pace that is acceptable to us when the USA strained to rebuild one of its most culturally rich cities? I do not have the answers after this weekend.

Good News:
In some positive news late last week we were notified that we have received a grant from WMU's HEART Fund. We will be using the fund to build a house for one of our schools workers. Expect to see some pictures and learn about what life was like for this family since the quake.

Ben

1 comment:

  1. As Bob Hope used to say, "Thanks for the memories". Ben, from what the news says, the US is trying to play their role there really low-key, not wanting to be accused of nation-building. Sounds kind of strange to me, but we hear reports that US troops there are not even flying our flag?? Hard to say what's true, especially with the limited coverage up here.

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