Port au Prince

Port au Prince
"He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure." Psalm 40:2

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Thank you

Thank you so much for your support and prayers for our time in Haiti. What an amazing week it was! It was a stretching and an eye opening experience. I come back with a lot of hope for Haiti and also with a deep sense of concern.

Haiti is a crazy place. I really wish I had a point of reference for how Haiti was before the earthquake. One of the most depressing things was when we hear a Haitian say “We are not glad the earthquake happened but without the earthquake no one would be paying attention to Haiti and helping us.” Shame on us. Learning about the history of the island was eye opening. Colonial attitudes towards Haiti along with terrible and corrupt political leadership left the people decimated, which was bad enough. Seeing the additional damage done by the earthquake is really heartbreaking.

But I come back really hopeful. We had a great meeting with a Haitian charged with rebuilding Haiti. We met this one gentleman, Abby Brun, who is on the recovery and rebuilding commission that is charged with making the recommendation on how to spend the $5.3 billion that is coming in aid from the International Community. He was brilliant and visionary and I have real hope that a room full of people like him can forge an even better Haiti. He understood how temporary shelter is surely going to lead to just larger slums and he is pushing for intentional city planning outside Port au Prince which really includes creating industry and jobs for folks that will be relocated. Folks who lived through the earthquake are also reporting things are going much smoother since after the earthquake because of the continued response.

Our medical people were immediately put to use. People who have not gotten medical care ever are being given amazing quality free care. At the same time there are limitations to technologies. Our team saw several people die, knowing that if they were in the US the medical technology could have saved folks. One of the paradoxes is that while Haitians are finally getting the medical care every human deserves many of the Haitian hospitals are under great strain as the expatriate volunteer pool is finally meeting the needs but because all the care has been free since the earthquake the hospitals bottom lines are under great strain. One hospital went out of business. As a missions pastor these sort of issues always worry me and convict me that we always need to be thoughtful in the good we want to do and that we have a unshakeable burden to make sure we leave a medical system that is stronger and better, when the volunteers do stop coming.

For the most part I got to connect with the great folks at World Relief and in some other great organizations. After our meetings ended we got to be plumbers at the hospital that needed a whole new system. There had been water dripping into the ceiling of the ER for years. Since the hospital was constructed there was no upkeep on the plumbing. We were glad we were able to be of use in re plumbing the entire hospital. I never thought I would know so much about PVC pipes and how to make them fit together. The team was great and the experience was really awesome.

We are looking to take more volunteers down in August to continue to meet the needs. If you are interested in volunteering please let me know.

John the Plumber