A year seems like a long time, when so much likely could happen. What will be filling up those 365 days seems full of promise and mystery. When you live a year, it flies by. You're sometimes amazed that so much actually happened, because it seemed like nothing was going on.
This marks the end of our first year in Haiti.
Katie provided the narrative recap of our past year. The frenzied craziness of the past year has been well documented on this blog. But what, if anything, has been learned?
We have learned that if there is a earthquake, you don't go huddle in the bathtub, you get in doorway. Everyone got that? Good.
Some people still haven't learned that Haiti is NOT in Africa. Someone asked me last night, "So, how is Africa?" I told them I didn't know, I had never been there. The awkward silence was heavy. Haiti is in the Caribbean sea. East of Jamaica and Cuba, west of Puerto Rico, next to the Dominican Republic.
Also learned: our school is pronounced Kiss-KAY-uh Christian School. Not "Quesadilla"!
I have learned that I love working and living abroad. After getting married and having a relationship with Christ, it is the best thing I have ever done. If anyone is in a stage in their life where they are mobile, go somewhere. America is a nice place, but go- see other countries learn about other cultures. You will be a deeper, richer person because of it.
I have learned that Haiti requires patience and dedication, like the long-term attention that New Orleans deserved after Katrina. If you wonder what is different in Haiti now, if anything has changed or improved, I would say mostly no. To me, Port-au-Prince looks the same as it did in April; it is too depressing to talk about regularly so I avoid it. In the meantime, governments delay sending their pledged contributions for earthquake recovery and the Haitian government is in deadlock over November's presidential elections (still no winner). All of this leads to a feeling that nothing is changing. The feeling that people are not moving out of the tent cities. They are not finding permanent solutions. What we will learn in the coming year is if the Haitian people are willing to tolerate this much longer.
I am learning how to help. I watch plane loads of blan (white people, or foreigners) fly into Port-au-Prince, then read stories about how $2 of every $100 in some rebuilding contracts goes to a Haitian company, and I wonder how this place is going to get better. All the things we seem to do to help appear to end up making it worse.
I have learned that people actually read what I write. Which blows me away. I thought that after the attention from the earthquake died down, readers would move on. However, I am being told by people that they checks our blog for updates every day. Really? I do not know all the names, but thank you.
Sometimes that requires you to readjust your comfort zone. Like when someone examines your face and tells you your ringworm "doesn't look that bad". Sometimes it devastates you with how cared for you are. Like when old friends tell you that when you do not write for a few days they start to worry about you.
This blog was supposed to be for family and friends to keep up with us. We never thought more than 20 people would look at it.
2011 is here. Our second year at Quisqueya School and Haiti is here. We have more to learn.