It seems so surreal. Hearing about the earthquake in Haiti... seeing it on the news, spending two days and hundreds of calls trying to get updates on our mission team, two orphanages and three schools. The frustration and feeling must have been obvious because Alyn told me I was crabby. I just felt so out of control... a feeling of helplessness. All I could do is pray.
The news was so terrible and it just kept getting worse. After booking two different flights that were canceled into Port au Prince I was finally confirmed into Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic. I spent Saturday in Fort Lauderdale with my good friend Kevin. I called Fabrice, a young Haitian man that we have been sponsoring through college in Santiago and asked if he could meet me at the airport, get me to the bus station and go with me on a 8 hour bus ride to Port au Prince. It is amazing...
Santa Domingo is such a modern metropolis with fancy shops, fancy cars and lots of different businesses. The roads were perfectly paved. The streets were clean. There was greenery everywhere. I just couldn't help thinking how different this side of the island is from Haiti. It just didn't seem fair.
The ride to the border was uneventful. But the border crossing was chaotic taking almost two ours to deport from Dominican and go through immigration on the Haiti side. It was immediately obvious when we were in Haiti. Rough dirt roads with all kinds of natural roadblocks including 6-12 inches of water from a lake. Winding roads and small tin and concrete shanties... even the poor houses I saw in the Dominican were so much nicer than the poor houses in Haiti.
I kept looking for damage and saw little to none. We drove through Croix de Bouquet and everything looked normal. Finally turning onto the road that took us through Tebarre, I saw my first glimpse of the destruction. There was a house whose first level had completely collapsed on one side and the entire second story had crashed to the ground on that side leaving the second story completely intact on a diagonal. Everyone on the bus gasped... it was too dark to take pictures but I know they will stay with me forever. One by one we saw the collapse of building after building. It was often hard to tell what the building looked like. We only saw 2,3 or 4 slabs of concrete laying solidly on top of each other.
We arrived at the bus station which was crowded and dark. There was little to no electricity in Port au Prince. The intense destruction became more real as we departed the bus only to see a 3 story building next to the bus station completely collapsed. I had no place to stay. I had called the Hotel we normally stay in but could not get ahold of them. Gertrude's guest house had collapsed... our director Jean's house had collapsed...Troy and Tara Livesay had sent an email saying they were crowded but would find a place for me... but I didn't have internet access and never got their email. Kevin met me with Jean at the bus station and said that I could stay with him. He said his house didn't collapse but they were still sleeping out on the street because of the after shocks. I was tired and didn't care where I slept.
Kevin's house was black. Everyone from the neighborhood was sleeping on the street. Kevin and I decided to go to a park in Petionville that was being used as a refugee camp. Many of the poor from the area had lost their homes or were scared to sleep inside so they had setup makeshift tents our of plastic, sheets, string and rope. There were thousands of people in the park with many vendors attempting to serve the masses with cold drinks, fried chicken and rice and beans.
As we drank our refreshments sitting on a wall surrounding the park, we noticed a little boy... couldn't have been more than 8 years old. It appeared that he had nice clothes on... T-shrit, jeans and a nice belt yet he was barefoot and completely dirty. We asked him where his mama or papa were and he told us him mama was coming for him. It wasn't real convincing. When we inquired, the vendors said his mama and papa were dead and he was saying that because he was scared. My heart broke. I gave him 10 Goudes and Kevin warned me that we would have lots of kids around us if I did that but I couldn't help myself. After another few minutes we asked him if he was hungry... ou gragu? He nodded his head. I gave Kevin some money and he headed off to buy a plate of rice and beans... that in itself was hard. The price of food had skyrocket because of the earthquake and then skyrocketed again because we were white. After 5 minutes of bickering back and forth they finally agreed on a price. I wish I would have had my camera with. This little boy was starving. He ate this big plate of rice and beans so fast it made me think he must not have eaten for a couple days. It broke my heart again when we had to leave. Lord I ask you to send someone into this little boys path that will care for him and give him comfort.
The rest of the night was uneventful. We road the motorcycle back to Kevin's and slept outside under the stars... a little cold, a little hard, a few mosquito's... but I had nothing to complain about.