You Are Not ForgottenBlog, Featured — By Sara Sterley on January 14, 2010 at 12:00 am
The church I grew up at had a sister parish in Saint-Louis-de-Sud, Haiti. The church sent mission trips to Haiti twice a year. We would build schools, run electricity and hold medical clinics. From a young age, I was fascinated by the stories we heard from those returning from trips to Haiti. I repeatedly asked my parents and the trip leaders if I could go, and, eventually, they relented during my junior year in high school.
We stayed in Port-au-Prince at the beginning and end of our trip because Saint-Louis-de-Sud was about a six-hour drive from the capital (though the two cities were only 100 miles apart). We stayed at a priest’s house who regularly hosted groups from the United States. The view of the city from my window was beautiful, so long as you looked up at the mountains, not down toward the lawn where families were living in shanties made of cardboard among heaps of trash in the streets.
To say that Haiti changed me is an understatement. Poverty on that scale only an hour flight from Miami is a devastating thing to witness. What affected me more than the poverty, though, was the character of the Haitian people. The people I met were full of joy, dancing in the streets after church. They lived in true community and worked together for the good of their friends and neighbors. Their lives centered on their dependence on God, and, for over ten years now, I have envied that kind of faith.
I often think of Peirnot, a little boy I met on my first day in Saint-Louis-de-Sud. I gave him a piece of candy I had in my pocket, and he followed me around for the next two weeks. He took us swimming at a beautiful, secluded Caribbean beach, brought us a live chicken to cook for dinner, and, on our last day, he gave me a picture of himself to take home, the only recent picture he had of himself, but he insisted that I have it. Piernot must be twenty now, and I hope he wasn’t anywhere near Port-au-Prince on Tuesday.
I have often thought that Haiti has been neglected. Other areas of the world have often received more attention, more celebrity endorsements, and more money. Perhaps now God is giving the church an opportunity to step in to this situation and show the people of Haiti that they are not forgotten.
If you are looking for a way to help the people of Haiti, stay informed about the situation, be praying for the rescue efforts and for those who have lost loved ones, and consider donating to an organization that is on the ground in Haiti. Some of my favorites are Partners in Health, World Vision, and Nehemiah Vision Ministries.