I feel overwhelmed and I’m not even there, yet.
Thanks to Twitter and the Internet, I can digest #Haiti news 24/7 and, because of my fierce interest and concern, that’s exactly what I’m doing.
My daughter says I’m obsessed.
Maybe she’s right. I just can’t seem to distance myself from the Haitians’ reality – even though it’s one I have not yet personally experienced. My husband and I leave in two weeks with our team of 10 from Eagle Pointe Church in Acworth, Georgia, and even the travel part sounds grueling:
Atlanta in the wee hours of Feb. 28 to Ft. Lauderdale through customs to Port-au-Prince (at least we don’t have to make our way into the Dominican Republic, as most earlier teams did, and wend our way through 10 hours of bad roads) to whatever part of that town we will call our home for six days in a tent. All I know is there’s an orphanage there – and lives that I desperately want to help change.
Preparing to go is already a flurry. They have so many, many needs and, before we can even get around to addressing them full time, we have to think about a few of our own.
Malaria tablets. Prevention against tuberculosis – it’s rampant in Haiti. Same with Hepatitis. I’m told there’s time to booster our systems against Hepatitis A, but B? Not so much. That’s the one where you don’t want spit or blood “contaminating” you. Tetanus. Even more potential illnesses that escape me at the moment. I keep hearing something about dengue fever. Sounds frightening.
And yet I feel selfish when I fret over the “what might happen’s” of trekking to Haiti to help.
Those people – by the hundreds of thousands (and I don’t just mean numbers – I mean BREATHING, ACHING INDIVIDUALS!) – are living in filth and facing the real fear that, in just a few weeks, a fierce storm season arrives and their pieced-together shelters will likely be swept away during flooding through debris-choked streets.
That is a big fear.
So the little things, like “Will one of those mosquitoes that is munching on my kids after dark – though I’m trying to huddle them beneath me under a sheet of government-issued plastic (if even that) for shelter – cause malaria or spread fatal disease?” just gets lost in their “How will we survive this night” despair. Never mind that some of them no longer have an arm or leg. Or husband or wife or mother or father or child or sister or brother or dearest friend.
And, no, that’s not even taking into account their incessant hunger.
Or their fear for safety. Women are being raped in the night and, with husbands and brothers no longer alive for protection, there are few who will risk intervening to help each other. Children, some too young to even identify the aunts and uncles and grandparents and neighbors who might rescue them, are being spirited away and sold for slavery and worse.
Yet God is there. Haitians are gathering by the sixty thousands to sing and praise and fiercely, desperately pray. They are thronging in the streets – it is their living room now.
God is the reason I’m willing to go. His plan is always better than my own and I trust Him.
But, yeah, I’m feeling a “little” overwhelmed. I’m not sleeping much.
Neither are they.
Because I know and they know that, no matter how many protein bars or toys or sacks of rice or even tents that I can distribute, it will be a drop in the bucket. There is no handy, “Delta is ready when you are” escape for those people and they couldn’t leave their country to grasp at a better life, even if they wanted to. There is no leaving – there is only coping, without a home and without protection and without food.
There is only one thing I can offer:
Now that I know about their need, they don’t have to do it without me.
It might not solve a country’s devastation but, in a mere 14 days, I will reach in my pocket and my fist will emerge with as many protein bars as I can hold and some mother who has had nothing for perhaps days will have something in her own hand to give to her starving child.
The baby formula you send with me will fill her baby’s yearning stomach.
The coloring books and crayons you contribute will put an afternoon’s glow back into a kid’s face.
The tent you provide will mean they get to watch the rain slide in sheets down around them, instead of through their clothes and belongings and into the mud pooling in their makeshift beds.
Forget giving a box of chocolates and ridiculous roses for Valentines Day. Show your family just how grateful you are for what and who you have by sharing with someone who may literally die without you!
Trust me, love will fly at you from all corners!
I don’t know what you can give to me or others like me to send to Haiti and the people who are, yes, dying there – but, more importantly, fighting to LIVE there.
But I do know that, whatever it is, it matters.