One of the most beautiful aspects of our time in Haiti is watching people who’ve never been here find their place to serve and work. We always experience a mix of frustration with the language barrier and the lack of resources that are so easily available in the United States – rope, ink pens, antibiotic cream, a hammer, a wrench.
But we also feel, always, this determination to be of help.
Right now, I’ve been watching Patty Fellabaum trying her best to register people for the medical clinic and find little ways to better organize the chaos. She finally has found solutions, the patients are organized, and she’s dancing with the kids.
Outside, the men in our group are working alongside Haitians on an unexpected project: they’re trying to fix their well – their only source of fresh water. It is a massive undertaking: they must raise up the piping for the well in 10-foot sections at a time, being careful not to lose their grip on the pipes and drop them down the well. They’ve have figured out the problem – a broken gadget that we hope to find when we get back to town.
Our work here often feels like two steps forward and 1.8 steps back. I try to remind everyone who struggles with this to consider what it would be like for this to be your life, as it is for the people who live here. The only thing is they don’t have the money to even achieve what we’re pulling off in fits and starts.
Our evenings are always a great time to decompress, laugh, tell stories and plan for the next day. We start with evening prayer and take time for everyone to offer reflections on their days, and I try to use scripture lessons that amplify what we believe God is doing through our efforts.
. Then it’s time for rum punch or a soda before exhaustion takes everyone increasingly early to bed.
These trips are always joy-filled while also heartbreaking. This is a wonderful country that needs so very much. It is an honor to stand beside the people of Haiti – they always teach me so much about human dignity and what truly matters in life. Haitians don’t have much in the way of material wealth, but they have a great deal to teach us about how to do humanity.
The Reverend Eric Long
Rector, St. John’s Episcopal, Roanoke, Va.