Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The men from Lifeline put our duffle bags in the blue bus and the ladies got on the yellow school bus. The United Nations soldiers stood on guard as we left for Grand Guave. Two off duty policeman rode the bus with us. It did make me feel more secure but I was not prepared for what I saw alongside the road. The internet did not capture the true devastation in Haiti. There were small hills of trash next to tables and booths of fresh vegetables and meats. Next to the food was several pigs routing through the trash for food. It was as if a major war had just happened and the bombs had torn apart houses and businesses leaving roofs off and debris everywhere. People were cramped into the streets and buildings; few were smiling. The stench was overwhelming and I wondered what I was doing there.

It’s really hard to explain what I saw. Water is at a premium as there are few “water stations” where they bring their buckets to fill and then carry back to their homes. It is remarkable how they have a hope in their eyes and are excited over water. I have to force myself to drink enough water at home to stay hydrated. Most Americans do not know the value of water. To the Haitians it is life. This reminds me of the Samaritan Woman in the book of John. Lord, forgive me when I waste water.

We were told not to take pictures as we rode through Port-au-Prince. In fact, we were told to keep our hands inside the bus. If you had a camera in your hand and it was extended outside the window, chances are it would be taken from you. Of course there were some who couldn’t help themselves and they took pictures. I could see the anger in the faces of the young men as their privacy was invaded. One man banged on the door at the back of the bus. I just happened to be sitting in the back seat and my heart was beating fast and my hands were griping the seat in front of me. I don’t remember how long it took but it seemed like Port-au-Prince just went on and on.

The town of Grand Guave was a miniature Port-au-Prince. Mush less traffic and people, but there was still a lot of trash everywhere with broken down buildings. One big difference was the dirt streets that connected to the main cobblestone avenue. The streets were so narrow I am amazed we could make turns. Finally we reached Lifeline Mission and entered through the guarded gate.

On the compound was a lodge, a beautiful courtyard, a pavilion used as a church, and another pavilion used for distribution of shoes. The medical clinic was on the left along with the clothing store and sewing center. The school consisted of several rooms with no outside walls and hard benches for the children to sit on.

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