It's been three weeks since I boarded the plane in Port-au-Prince, eager to escape the warmed odor of its streets. The dust wasn't bad to leave behind either as I coughed it up bit by bit on the flight home. My mind had started to regularly refer to that country as hell and I felt like I was being delivered. Even now, I'm amazed at how little I had remembered from my first trip there in 2007, as a High School senior. I've come to believe there lies an enormous difference between knowing that poverty exists and physically experiencing it smile up at you, in the form of a small child, quietly asking for a "foto."
Dayspring Ministries, the non-profit I traveled with (founded by my grandmother), has done great things for the people of Haiti. These were the things I remembered. The orphanage children: the ones that are well fed, clothed, and have a safe place to live. The sponsored school children: the ones that receive an education and eat lunch. The sponsored widows: the ones that now have homes.
I had forgotten about the slums we had to drive through to get to the orphanage, shacks on the mountainside, children without pants, calloused feet and garbage on the sides of the roads. One million people still live in tents post-earthquake. Gosh, blue tarps were everywhere. Statistics hardly describe it. So I cried. I sat out in the truck one night and cried because I had forgotten suffering was real—that people live in huts and schools are made out of plywood and tin and people don't know how to prevent cholera.
My grandmother was right in what she told me that night about being encouraged by the good work being done. The orphanage is raising leaders for the country, Dayspring is expanding its reach and us being there showed people they were loved. But I cannot help feeling responsible, believing that somehow my costly life is not just costly for me. My lack of giving, my failure to utilize skills, my disregard—it's costly for that man in the market aggressively trying to sell sugar cane. We've got to take care of each other.
Dayspring is changing Haiti, I've seen it. I'm not trying to down play that—I just want to ponder the possibility of doing more. I want to have more conversations about tangible, creative solutions and not feel paralyzed by the multitudes of problems in this world. It paralyzed me that night in the truck, and many nights since, but I don't want to shy away. Too much depends on us.
If you want to donate to Dayspring, I can tell you that 99.9% of the money goes directly to Haiti and I know it's used well. Donations can be made here. If not Dayspring, look for other causes, other fights. I'm telling this first to myself, but we need to re-think the way we live; we need more conversations, considerations and what ifs.