Haiti is pretty hard to describe with words. Conveying a country’s worth of hope, suffering, hunger, degradation, chaos, resilience, massive dysfunction and tremendous beauty is no easy task. So let’s just talk about some things we saw on our most recent trip to this fascinating place.
1. We met a family living in a row of makeshift tents and tent-like structures, just a golf shot away from the Bicentennial Monument in Port-au-Prince. The place was crowded, chaotic, trash-strewn, muddy, mosquito-infested and hot as blazes. We interviewed a young mother with a 9-month-old who had just gotten out of the hospital.
2. We met beautiful, smiling kids at an orphanage who sang for us and seemed quite content to entertain themselves by flipping through a phone book. The 90 kids there laughed and played, despite having fewer toys than my (1) daughter.
3. We saved a goat. *Full Disclosure* An FFP-Haiti staff member saved a goat that was hanging by a rope around its neck after falling off a sheer mountain ledge. Technically, I was eating almonds in the front seat while this occurred, but did root him on so I am claiming a role in this heroic rescue operation.
4. We met with 6 different families in a very remote, mountainous area and were welcomed into each home with generous hospitality. Zero of the six families had eaten that day.
5. We saw tremendous beauty on the drive to Morisseau, passing lovely beach areas and eventually winding through picturesque mountains. While there we saw a school inaugurated that will educate 140 students and met with families who’ve had their lives transformed by the gift of a safe new home.
6. In another remote area that seemed to have been lost in time, we met with more people who used to live in deplorable, unsafe shacks, but now live in nice FFP homes. We saw a lot more people who could use the same.
These are just a few of the things we saw. Again, it’s hard to accurately convey in words all of the maddening, confusing, inspiring, uplifting and distressing things you see in a place like Haiti. It’s equally hard to know what to do with all this information, or how to convey it in a way that will result in more people caring about the folks living there. But I suppose the takeaway is to always remember that Haiti, just like anywhere else, is full of human beings who need, deserve and hope for all the same things we do. And whatever we can do to help them – be it with food, water, shelter, small business support, etc. – is really great.