I can’t believe its 10:27, Tuesday, February 9, 2010. Four weeks ago today the earth quake happened. Four weeks ago today life got turned upside down. Four weeks ago today became the day against which all natural disasters in this area very well may be measured for centuries to come. For weeks ago today became the day that people will refer to as “after that day, things were never the same”. Wow, four weeks, huh?
Its been a busy four weeks. A tiring four weeks. A productive four weeks.
Life in Haiti seems to be slowing back down to a normal pace. People are getting by, making due, and moving forward. Within the first few days after the earthquake everyone was afraid. We were afraid that we would run out of the things we needed to live. For most Haitians, it was food, water, and a future. For those of us on the Mission Center and others in the area it was food, fuel, cash, medical supplies, and ways to help. Medical staff was running short and people were injured and dying. Tap taps (local transportation), motorcycle taxis, and missionaries were making mad rushes to the gas stations to fill up tanks and drums. Grocery store lines were long and shelves were emptying out. Large checks were written and extra cash was in hand. Day by day, moment by moment, things changed, plans were revised and lists were rewritten. Medical teams were coming and then they couldn’t. Supplies were on their way and then they weren’t. But my how things have changed. Within a couple weeks of the rush, stores in our area were reopened and resumed their regular schedules. Merchants were back on the streets, gas was delivered, Dr's were a plenty (so many in fact some couldn’t find places to work) and medical and food supplies were being delivered multiple times daily.
News is coming in a lot less frequently than it was in the beginning days, but here is what I know from street level; I admit, I don’t have the bigger picture.
Apparently there are still places in port who aren’t receiving aid. But from what I also understand massive amounts of aid has been delivered and I also know many areas are being supported. I even heard of an organization who claimed that it was giving out 800,000 meals a day. I have no reason not to believe them. I just imagine there are so many people dispersed to so many areas, it has to be hard to know exactly where everyone is. I’ve also heard organizations mention that they’re not receiving aid. I don’t know this for a fact, but I would venture to guess this may have something to do with the proverbial squeaky wheel getting the oil. Those who are crying loudest get taken care of first. I’m not blaming anyone either. I’ve said it so many times, especially in the beginning when I heard so many people complaining about the amount of time it was taking to get relief efforts organized, this is a complex problem with a complex solution. I didn’t see any of those people volunteering to come in and oversee the distribution of relief in a city of over 2 million residents. Knowing as little as I know, I am grateful it wasn’t my job to organize how it got done. I wouldn’t be good at some thing like that. I’m better at handing out bowls of rice than figuring out where they need to go in the first place. While I do understand that when your suffering its not really reasonable to expect you to be OK when your neighbor is getting provisions while you look on. Its beyond my ability to even begin to understand how you facilitate something like this. I guess I’m just saying lets offer some grace. It wasn’t an easy task and the hardships aren’t over. For those who are trying to do their part, I am grateful.
Aid is coming to us with the help of missionaries and humanitarians working in this area. For many weeks, many planes each day have been bringing in food and medical supplies. Almost as fast as they have come in, it has gone out. There are so many people who have come to Cayes and are now living with relatives. So while the need doesn’t seem as immediate, it is still very real. These families, many of whom, were already struggling to find daily provisions for their immediate families are now being forced into finding food for many extra people now residing with them. RMI and other organizations in the area are working with the MEBSH churches to make deliveries to many of the MEBSH churches (many of which are also sister churches in the RMI program) and providing them with resources to distribute within their communities. Yes, there are those who don’t have what they need. But we are doing everything we can and working moment by moment to make it happen. One of the missionaries has spoken with a military relief organization and are trying to coordinate what could possibility be several tons of food coming into this area. We have no official news on this that I know of but we are hopeful as this will help supply so many with what they need.
Medical Teams are still coming into the area. Most of the teams who have been brought in by missionaries on the mission center are working at the Clinic on the mission center or at BonneFin. There have been at times so many Doctors and medical professionals, that people who were planning to come (or who came)weren’t needed. While it is frustrating for those who made the sacrifice to come, it is encouraging to see how God has abundantly blessed. The missionary family coming to work with RMI on the field in Haiti in March (Rob and Becky Thompson) has a house here on the mission center which is being used to house medical supplies that are delivered. The house has been full and empty multiple times. It was just emptied not many days ago and is already full again.
I was just in town yesterday. While shelves in grocery stores are not full, they are certainly not empty. And while certain items may be in short supply, most of the time what you are looking for has a substitute item readily available. One of the store owners was asked where she was receiving her stock from and she said Port au Prince. One of the main grocery stores is completely destroyed but there are others in Port that are still completely operational and if those aren’t available, there are shipments that can come in from the Dominican Republic. There are some items however that are impossible to find. Here, cokes are still bottled the old fashioned way; in 20oz glass bottles that are bought by the case and returned to the place of purchase once the bottles are emptied. There are also imported cases (mostly cans and some plastic bottles) of things like Diet Coke, Dr. Pepper, etc. that are available and some local versions of sodas in plastic bottles as well. Yesterday Serge and I were trying to find coke to stock at the Guest House as well as for some of the other missionary families and it was impossible to find. The plant where they make the sodas (among other beverages) was damaged in the quake so it may be some time before it’s repaired and ready for production. Boxes of frozen (imported) chicken legs were almost impossible to find. Cases of Tampico are also almost impossible to find.
It also seems as though lines at the gas stations have returned to their normal state.
We still don’t know what the future looks like. Its too early to tell. There are many families who are still living at the hospital as loved ones are healing. There are still many families staying at Gabyon, the tent city downtown. People don’t know where they will go when they have to leave there. Elementary and High schools have reopened and students have returned. But in Port many are broken and students of all ages don’t know how or when they can, if ever, return. So there are many uncertainties that lie ahead and futures that can only be known by the revolution of time. But for now as we look around and see reminders of such I am encouraged to remember that God is sovereign even if we’ve forgotten so, and He loves us still even when we feel forgotten.