I am packing my bags and I’m hitting the bricks! Dagwood sandwich in one hand, knap sack in the other,”we” are headed on an adventure of great proportions. Oops I let the cat out of the bag, by saying “we” didn’t I? Well it seems my eldest son wanted more than to just file paperwork at the local police station to fulfill his “public service” requirements for graduation from high school. So he and I headed off on a spiritual journey. An expedition hopefully filled with emotional growth and worldly knowledge. Not a vacation mind you but an actual trip filled with hard work, dedication and compassion for others. So we answered the call, meeting up with 8 other people from our church, partaking in some fundraising and away we go!!!
Along the way it will be a true conquest to overcome the need for electronics, video games, ringing cell phones, packed schedules and school. A much-needed reality check from todays society filled with not so real “reality” television blaring in your face 24/7.
Where can we go to find such isolation you ask??
Yep, that’s right as in “hot as Haiti” the wonderful little grief-stricken country on the tip of the Dominican Republic. You remember Haiti don’t you? A massive 7.0 earthquake ripped the country apart in 2010 leaving 316,000 dead, 300,000 injured and more than a million residents homeless; devastating the country’s infrastructure and crushing any commerce or trade to sustain economic stability. Well its 2012 and it appears that half a million Haitians still remain homeless living on the streets or in tent camps. financial aid is at a stalemate with only portions of promised funding actually being delivered to its intended recipients. Government corruption is rampant and the Haitian citizens are truly suffering.
Thanks to the wonderful air carrier American Airlines , my son and I are heading into Port Au Prince with a United Methodist Church group, sponsored by UMCOR or the United Methodist Committee On Relief. Leaving in June we will spend 10 lovely days and nights soaked in radiant sun just north of the equator. This not so all expense paid vacation will provide us ample time to dig, shuttle rubble, and carry heavy objects from one place to another. Want to lose weight while in Haiti? No problem with an average 80% humidity while entrenched in 90+ degree weather, those pounds will melt right off. I am surprised Guthy-Renker hasn’t figured out how to bottle it up and sell it to the masses on late night T.V. yet.
While in Haiti we will be treated to luxurious accommodations including but not limited too; One room out buildings with army cots, an open air solar shower, built-in charcoal kitchen, and wooden sided latrine. Want to go on an excursion while you there? No problem just grab your interpreter and head out into the streets to meet the locals! Dont worry, they are glad to see you ( as volunteers are the only true economy source) so be respectful, take it all in and just avoid eye contact with U.N. police officers at all costs.
All kidding aside. We cant wait to go! My wife volunteered last year and came home with amazing stories of families torn apart, entire families killed, strangers raising children they found after the quake and some of the kindest most resilient, generous people she had ever met. They live in a world where they are truly on their own. The streets are lined with garbage, rubble remains everywhere, mass tent cities are still operating, and Cholera is still rampant, all though latest statistics from UMCOR show those numbers are dropping. The Haitian people want and need our help. The churches are the only true center of social and economic stability for these people. We are honored to a part of this rebuilding effort.
I also think this will be an incredible growing experience for my son. Surrounded by all the creature comforts a kid could possibly have, we hope this will further ground an already fairly centered kid just a little more. When we are finished I hope this will help him understand why people risk their lives daily to make it into the United States hoping to create a better life for themselves and thier families.
Not that long ago I had the pleasure of meeting a gentlemen during jury duty who resided from Haiti. He risked everything and fled the country 20+ years ago hoping for a better life in America. To this day he works very hard at his job, sending half his income home so his family may survive. He is a pillar in his community and a regular at the local United Methodist Church, where he leads committees, sings in the choir and prays daily for “his people” back home. During the earthquake he lost 6 of his 8 siblings along with his parents. He wishes daily he could go home to visit the remaining family members but is terrified they (the government) will recognize him and hold him back in country. In his words this would not only mean incarceration but as the major contributor to their well being, the loss of a very good income for his family. So he remains in a country he has learned to love, adopted as his own and stays by himself so others may prosper.
So be prepared people! For while my son and I are in Haiti with our team, I will be blogging about our experiences! The highs, the lows, the weight loss, the crying, the need for beer and my soft, fluffy, imperialist bed! Along the way we hope to learn a culture, to make new friends and if only for a very short moment in time help out with the good attitudes and strong hands god gave us.