Tent to Tent Visitations

We maneuvered around the slimy brown muck, careful not to lose our footing and FALL into the slimy brown muck or, even worse, into the side of someone’s unstable shelter.  The paths only allowed for a single file line, as the tents had been placed as close as possible to accommodate as many tents as the empty field would permit.

Tent City residents rarely have guests, except for the occasional non-profit relief groups who offer day clinics or pass out food; they definitely never have guests who walk from tent to tent and ask to sit and visit with them!  Because of the news reports of rapes, crimes, & violence within the tent cities, most guests fear the worst.  But, having good rapport with each tent city’s manager, we felt led to meet the families in THEIR environment; to go to them instead of having them come to us, wait in line for an hour, and then only get to interact on a limited basis.  Furthermore, in the three days that I’ve been in the tent cities, NOT ONCE have I felt unsafe.  In fact, I have experienced only sincere hospitality and gratitude.  NOT ONCE has any person been threatening, hostile, or even rude.  I know that crime runs amuck in these chaotic environments, but as Christ followers, we are to obey the Spirit’s leading without fear, but with confidence, power, and a sound mind.

Every person we visited today affected my hate/love relationship with Haiti.  The people are precious – their kindness, their contagious smiles, their openness and honesty. They exhibit determination and perseverance, even though they feel hopeless.   It’s hard to not fall in love with them.

I HATE the situation they are in…more specifically, I hate their government, or rather, their LACK oF GOVERNMENT.   NO cleanup has started (except for individuals taking initiative on their own homes).  Buildings remain in dangerous heaps, some still leaning on the structures next to them.  Their waterways, sidewalks, and streets are basically trash dumps. I’ve been to some pretty nasty places in my life…none compare to Port-au-Prince.  I did not see any signs of an organized trash collection; the people literally just throw everything (and I mean everything) into the streets or streams.  Portable bathrooms (some just wooden walls with holes in the ground) add to the dangerous, unsanitary conditions…all because the government won’t get their act together.  It’s frustrating…many of us here found ourselves not just saddened, but angry.   And don’t even get me started on the education and health systems!  I may have to write about those later on, because the truth will astonish and overwhelm you with just how oppressive the government treats “their” people.  We just do what we can and then pray that God will shake up the government and either change the hearts of the leaders or replace them with those more compassionate and honest.

My breaking point today came with the second person we visited.  We trekked our way to a tent nestled between another tent, a high concrete wall and thick, low-hanging banana tree leaves.  The tent barely covered a small twin size mattress…just enough protection for a night’s sleep.  Outside the tent was one pot for cooking beans or rice.  The young lady who welcomed us to her “home” looked no older than 20.  She was petite and thin.  Her husband was at the market trying to find work.  She stays home because she is pregnant and needs to rest.

We chatted for a while, then I asked her when her baby is due.  Her eyes slightly danced around, looking for an answer, but then she simply replied, “I don’t know”.  I, confused, looked at my translator.  He apparently understood  my facial expression and proceeded to explain that most pregnant women never get to find out their anticipated due date because they never get to see a doctor during their pregnancy.  It’s too expensive.  So, they have to just make guesses to their dates.

Just the day before, I held a 1 day old baby, thinking about the conditions of her birth.  And now, here I was talking with a pregnant girl, overwhelmed with the realization of the conditions of her pregnancy.  Never knowing the health of herself or her baby.  Never getting to hear his or her heartbeat.  Never getting the opportunity to fully prepare for the new life that she will soon be blessed with…  No wonder she is scared.

We prayed.  She smiled. I cried.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Elizabeth Kennickell
    Aug 05, 2010 @ 21:03:10

    Lindsey,
    While it is true that Haiti has not had a stable or beneficial government, we must give credit for the debacle in Haiti to all parties involved. The reason public works such as health, education, and infrastructure are lacking is due to the lack of funds left in the national budget after paying off loans to entities such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The impoverished nation has not ever been allowed to succeed because of historical exploitation from France and the U.S. Currently, Haiti is paying $1 million a week in loan payments. There is a movement to lobby for debt cancellation for HIPC (Heavily Impoverished Poor Countries) as petitioned in the UN Millennium Goals. For more information and articles see .

    Reply

    • lmparks
      Aug 05, 2010 @ 22:42:10

      Thanks, Elizabeth. You’re right, Haiti is not in this condition solely because of their own government. However, the issue here is directly in relation to the earthquake relief and the donations that have been given to Haiti’s officials solely for the cleanup and rehabilitation.they’ve done little work with the money given specifically for the Earthquake relief. Those funds are not for loan payments, rather for helping the Haitian people…and it’s not being done.

      Reply

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