impressions of haiti after three years

IMG_4556i arrived in haiti sunday morning, after more than three years since my last visit. we spent the day visiting a few missions teams, and seeing a handful of the ministry partners who work with Praying Pelican Missions.

while they did cover my expenses for being here, this bit is not a line they fed me or anything i’m writing out of obligation: i totally dig their approach and attitude. they are all about serving the local church, and seem meticulous in protecting that vision. it’s one thing to say, “we want to serve the local church,” but still have a “we white westerners know what you need” attitude; but the PPM staff seem to fully embrace an attitude of humility and “we are less.”

i’ll probably write more about the actual work we’re seeing on another day; but i want to return to my impressions upon returning. my first two visits to haiti were in february and may of 2010, closely on the heels of the earthquake. even though there was some evident progress made in those months, the situation in may of 2010 was still pretty bleak. while i have plenty of stories of individual haitians i met on those trips that have become part of my own story, the single image–or reality–that best summed up the complexities of those days was the image of a tent city.

IMG_0056these tent cities–mostly comprised of makeshift “tents,” not real tents–were everywhere. hundreds of thousands of people were living in them. and the living conditions were horrendous.

on the upside: almost all of the tent cities are gone now. i saw maybe three of them as we drove through port au prince and carrefour today. i’m sure there are plenty more than that, but it’s a fraction of what was. and all over the place, i saw construction and life.

that was encouraging.

but the realities of life here in the poorest country in the western hemisphere haven’t abated. and there’s zero debating this: they haven’t yet “recovered” from the destruction of the earthquake.

i’ve been to plenty of poor countries. and in one sense, any attempt to say which is better or worse is a waste of time: complex systems of poverty–whether you live in the poorest country in the western hemisphere, or the seventh poorest country in some other part of the world–are overwhelming.

one thing i’m looking forward to this week is getting a better sense of the haitian church’s identity post-earthquake. my sense had been, during those first trips here, that the haitian church struggled with figuring out her sense of self. i witnessed the church coming alive during those early post-earthquake months, stepping up with a sense of confidence in a lived-out gospel. it was great to meet a handful of church leaders today, and hear, over and over again, how they are all actively involved in loving their neighborhoods in significant and tangible ways.

so: hope is alive in haiti. but the work is far, far, far from over.

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3 thoughts on “impressions of haiti after three years”

  1. I have been to Haiti three times with PPM and have been blown away each time. My high school students and adults have served in Mariani helping build the local church and school. It’s wonderful to see the rebuilding first hand. There is so much hope in Haiti and I can not wait to return.

  2. @Adam – When we were there in June, it blew my mind how far they had come in a year. It is amazing to think the church could be finished this year. Hope you all are having an amazing time.

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