Thursday, July 15, 2010
Haiti has been all but forgotten. It isn't in the news anymore. There are no celebrities raising money, and for most people, Haiti is assumed to be back to normal. When you walk through the streets you see the hopelessness of their situation. It isn't back to normal, but far from it. 1.3 million refugees in camps are experiencing rape, abuse, starvation, and utter desolation. This is compounded by rubble and architectural damage on every block throughout Port Au Prince, Haiti's capital.
I've decided instead of re-writing one of the stories that spoke to this desperation best, I would just copy it out from my journal entry.
July 10, 2010
We hadn't even gotten out of the truck before these four boys came and grabbed my hands and started patting my hair. We had been dropped off in a tent city, it was across from the crumbled palace. It was like a maze. We went to meet with some people and hear there stories and hand out what little money we had. Walking through the maze of tents, I saw different faces. They would look up at me and smile and say "bonjour". Seeing into their tents, tents they had lived in for over six months now, broke my heart. Some had nailed together metal scraps, mixed with sheets and some tarps. The floors to their tents were dirt. All the while the four boy were following us back in, and working hard to keep my attention, constantly holding my hands.
I was walking past this one tent where I saw a woman (very skinny) sitting at the opening to her tent washing a shirt in this little plastic basin of water. There were four other women with babies inside the tent. My first thought was that there wouldn't be enough room for me in that tiny tent, but I felt pulled in by this one woman's smile. They wanted me to come in. I was a "Blanc" and hope is scarce for them. I was trying to get past the woman who was doing laundry and she wouldn't move. She didn't want me in. The other women started scolding her until she moved. Tripping over them I found a spot. This tent was horrible. It was SO BRUTALLY HOT, and right next to this stone wall. They told me, water would flood the tent, coming down the wall and they had to be careful it wouldn't drown the babies. (When it rains in Haiti, it is torrential.) They actually went out and got a fan from someone else's tent and brought it back to make me more comfortable. This was humbling, at the very least I could suffer in the heat with them.
The ladies one by one began telling me the nightmare of their lives through Blan, our translator. He was so awesome, I love him! Since nearly every woman I had the honor of speaking to had been raped in the tent villages, I started there. I asked if they felt safe? A couple of them laughed and said they had knives, but that yes, each one had been raped at least once. They had been robbed, abused, beaten, and raped since living in the tents. They had been there since the earthquake. (Over six months ago) One of their daughters had to perform oral sex on a man in order to get water. Her daughter was nine. This is common.
I didn't know where to go from here. I wanted to know their story, for it deserved to be told. I saw their value as if they were Jesus himself. I asked if anyone had pain in their body. One woman at the doorway told me her stomach hurts all the time. My first thought was she is hungry, but we prayed. She was still in pain. The second time I prayed, I begged. I called forth her destiny, I proclaimed her value and I literally poured my heart out before her, for her healing. My good and amazing Father healed her when compassion began to control me. With tears in her eyes and mine, she told me it went away. It was at this moment, the woman who had been doing her laundry felt to talk to me and tell me what happened to her. She had a baby a few months ago in the tents. When some men came to rob her, she wouldn't let them take anything, so they pulled her baby from her and left. I've had two children and I remember the extreme pain of when your milk comes in. I've often thought of how painful it is, that you HAVE to nurse, or you feel like you will die. I believe God made it so in those early weeks, so we would wake up in the night and feed our babies. When she was telling me that they took her three day old baby, I couldn't help but think about her emotional anguish coupled with her physical pain. I wanted to die, the pain and compassion was so great. There are no right words to say to a woman who just bared herself like that and experienced that. She told me that they brought the baby back three days later just to die in her arms that night. I bust out crying, weeping in her tent. I could hardly see her through my tears. I couldn't get to her for all the other women and children were in my way. I just kept telling her I was sorry, that I was so sorry. I was blowing her kisses and putting my hands together in prayer. She started to cry as well and we had a moment that will be remembered throughout my entire lifetime and into eternity.
Before leaving that tent, I asked if anyone else needed prayer, if anyone else had pain in their body. One woman who had been nursing the whole time spoke up. I looked at the interpreter and he said in a quiet humbled voice, "Aimee, she said she is hungry."
I don't know if I've ever been split open like that in my life. I had very little money left, but i left it. I had some candy and a granola bar..,I left it too. It wasn't enough, it was almost mean. I had two toothbrushes and as I laid them on the floor, I thought about how very "American" it was to think of bringing toothbrushes to starving people. I had no idea the need there. I looked up at Blon and said, "What can we do?" with as much hopelessness as anything. He said, "We can go buy some rice? Don't tell them though, in case we can't come back. Let's just go now." I felt excited about buying them some food. I blessed each one on the head, babies too, and left.
We went to buy 6 bags of rice and 6 jars of oil. It cost $50. This was outrageous to me. I didn't have it on me, but my brother stepped in to the rescue. Haiti imports everything and apparently someone is taking advantage of the situation to be charging that much for freakin rice.
Anyway we drove back to the tents and decided it wouldn't be wise to carry food past that many starving people. We sent Blon in to get the women and discreetly bring them out. They could carry the bags back. I felt excited waiting to see them again. It was like they were my sisters that I never had. It was unfair that they were suffering while I was playing my life away.
I saw them emerge and felt panic whip through my body. They had nearly tripled in size. I remembered the women, but there were more women and men that came out with them. It was like being in the middle of a shark feeding. Babies were screaming due to the chaos and yelling. Every person was so desperate for a bag of rice and we only had six. Oh Lord have mercy, this man starting grabbing a bag before it made it to the nursing woman and I began to yell at him. I started to push him as hard as I could from the angle I had until he looked at me. I yelled at him "NO, it's for her." He let go, which I'm glad of. In those situations I don't know what I'm capable of, but I feel so much stronger than I actually am.
I gave the bag to her. I soon realized that the woman who had been healed of her stomach ache didn't get rice. I walked over to tell her sorry, but sorry doesn't feed her her and her family. It just doesn't. She was gracious in her disappointment. As they all walked away, the woman who lost her baby, the woman who didn't want me in her tent originally, looked back at me. We locked eyes again and she blew me a kiss.
I climbed in the front seat of the truck as we drove away...weeping silently. It's just not right. Oh God, please send people to help them. Please don't let me have to live wondering how they are forever. Bless them, keep them...love them, hold them, feed them, comfort them....please God, have mercy.
July 11, 2010 (journal excerpt)
After handing out all the candy and toys, I was invited into this woman's tent who had a one month old baby. With no translator, I simple said one word..."Jesus". I looked at her. She was crying. Her husband died in the earthquake. She looked at me through her tears and smiled and said, "Jesus."
That's all that was needed for me to know I could pray for her baby and for her. I sang, "Jesus loves the little children" and the baby just looked at me. I looked right into her eyes and her babies eyes and I saw my Lord. It broke me. She showed me her hand-done c-section wound, that took place in that tent. I have never seen anything more horrible in my life. It was black, almost purple...completely and utterly infected (dried puss) and she was putting a bandage equally as dirty back on top of it.
Jesus, truly you were more beautiful in that tent then in any church in America. I felt your heart beat in that child, I saw your eyes look at me through her mama. I felt your essence pour out of me like liquid gold and yet, I couldn't access your kingdom fully on her behalf. But truly you are with the broken and the weak. You have not forgotten them. Please use me to help bring glory and hope and comfort to the people of Haiti, and all throughout this earth.
Oh God the need is overwhelming, what can one person do? I feel so helpless, so small in the grandeur of their pain and suffering. It nearly swallowed me whole. Lord, I would waste my life for them if I felt like it would make a difference, will it make a difference?