I had a rough night last night.
It seems that now I have returned from Haiti, I am finally able to grieve the disaster that was the earthquake. And it kind of sucks.
When you're in Haiti for a long time, your mentality shifts. You get to a point where you recognize that everything that Haiti is dealing with is just the reality. You want to do as much as you can to make that reality a bit better... but things that would normally be terrible just become... normal.
You expect to see crumbled buildings. You expect to see kids begging for money and/or food. You expect some of the people you meet to still be living in a tent. It seems (somewhat) normal.
Sometimes you are faced with elevated circumstances within that normal that make you sad... make you want to fix it. For example, when I was first in Haiti and I would travel to the UMCOR NGO office, I would see this flattened hospital. Thinking about the trained medical professionals and the patients inside was... heartbreaking. Right outside the hospital was this haunting, abandoned red car that had obviously been there since the earthquake. What happened to the owner? Moments like that make you want to weep... when you're met with such a harsh visual.
Or, for example, that first time that we really talked with Robenson's mother. When we found out that in the 35 seconds of the earthquake she lost her husband, income, and home... and that she had been working tirelessly for the past 6 months after the quake to put food on the table. She couldn't afford anything else, though... and, at times, she could barely afford the food. Moments like that also bring deep sadness to your heart. A moment when you re-commit yourself to helping kids go to school, making sure they have enough to eat, and making sure that they're living in a safe, secure place.
But since I've been home (this past week or so especially) I have found myself truly grieving. For Haiti. For my friends. For the disasters upon disasters that strike the country and for the people who have no time to grieve, no time to stop because sending their children to school and putting food on the table is more important.
I recently watched a show called "World's Deadliest Earthquakes" in which the Jan. 12th earthquake was the first one mentioned. I re-watched footage of Haiti during and immediately after the quake. I saw people screaming and weeping in the streets. I saw my Haitian brothers and sisters trying so desperately to get their friends and family out of collapsed buildings. I saw a dead body in the street covered with a worn sheet.
I admit that I cried. I felt that moment all over again... but this time, it felt personal. The people screaming on the TV were my friends... not people from a random, far-away country. They were those that had welcomed me, arms open. Who cared for me. Who supported me. They are Oge, and Belorne, and Claire, and Marie Claude, and Johnny, and Daniel, and Maxo, and Peterson, and Jean Claude, and Ruth, and so many, many more.
I don't know where I am going with this really. I suppose I just wanted to make the reality of that disaster real for you again, too. To remember that the work is not done. To remember that there are missionaries and NGO workers that are there working tirelessly to bring healing and comfort to Haiti. To remember that there are still people in tents. There are still kids who go to bed hungry. There are still parents without income. There are still people who shift through the rubble.
And now that I'm separated from it... now that I'm having a chance to process all of it... I remind myself that while it may be Haiti's currently reality... it shouldn't be their reality forever.
Haiti is important. The people are real. We need to continue to respond - through prayer, advocacy, and donations.
And we need to keep telling their story. To continue to remind people that they're still there. There is still work to do.