Monday, June 21, 2010

Haiti or Bust

Tomorrow I  start off on a week-long work trip to Haiti. I am going so that I can learn, listen and see. Although I have been advocating on Haiti's behalf for a month now, consulting and volunteering around Haiti relief efforts for 4 months and praying on Haiti for 5 months, I have never visited the country. It has been a long-distance relationship across the great gulf of our cultural differences and misconceptions. Finally, I have the opportunity to resolve this disconnect.

I am both excited to go and a little nervous. I have all of my vaccinations, started my anti-malarial medication last week, and have assembled a nice little pile of food bars, anti-bacterial gel, a good pocket knife, immodium and my best intentions. 100 degree heat, malaria mosquitoes and travelers indigestion don't really worry me, though. Nor does the hurricane season, political instability or the scary idea of losing my checked bag. (For all the SIT Cameroon alum out there, anyone remember our checked bag debacle on Cameroon Airlines? Oh, I mean, Air Peut-etre;) What worries me is being face to face with the enormous amount of suffering which must be gripping this country, and not knowing what to do with it.

When September 11th gripped our own country in its hold, the results were overwhelming. It felt like the entire region was collectively suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndome and that the entire country was in deep mourning. Everyone was affected. Everyone now remembers where they were when September 11th struck. We lost thousands of dear souls and had our financial and cultural infrastructure shaken to its core.

As I reflect on our own National tragedies at ground zero or with Hurricane Katrina, I try to envision what the comparison must be like on the ground in Haiti. The  only word that comes to mind is overwhelm. 200,000 people and counting. Maybe a quarter of a million. That's more people than were killed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. How can one country contain so much pain and suffering? I imagine tears running out into the streets, mixing up with dirty flood water and spilling into the ocean...the only container big enough, perhaps, to hold such an event.

My Haitian friends tell me that despite this pain, Haitians still have hope. They have experienced their unfair share of political upheaval, hunger, poverty and national crisis in the past. Yet, a strength, wisdom and unity seems to still persevere in Haiti. And so, I hope to go and listen to Haitian voices and Haitian stories. I plan to maintain this blog as often as I can for the journey. I hope to document my own personal experiences over the next week and see where the Spirit may take us. It may be a bit of a wild ride, but I still invite you to join me through this blog. Just don't forget to bring some dramamine, in case it ever gets a little bumpy:)


  1. I love this posting! Good luck in Haiti.

  2. Bless, bless, bless Elise! Can NOT wait to hear about all your experiences.
    Prayers ensuing for peace and safety,

  3. You are so perfect for this work... I'm so happy for you. Peace and hope for your journey! xoxox Michelle