Sunday, March 7, 2010

Observations of Port au Prince

Late last night we posted photos from our drive through Port au Prince. Today we wanted to try to paint a picture of what we saw.

Gigantic mountains of rubble, chunks of cement, rebar, unsalvageable personal items littered every street. Collapsed buildings, single and multiple stories, that have caved in on themselves. A seven story building completely flattened - you could count the floors from the ground. Universities, churches, businesses, houses, hospitals, schools, pharmacies... everything. People living their lives amid the rubble. Clean laundry hanging on the crumbling walls. Piles of old truck and car tires. Wild pigs eating garbage out of the gutters. Very young children wandering unsupervised. Gates that have been padlocked to keep people out of unsafe areas. People climbing on top of the rubble looking for things that they can use. Cars driving haphazardly through the streets, on the right, on the left, passing whenever and wherever they please. Honking horns at other cars, trucks, mopeds and pedestrians. Tin shacks. Banana and orange trees ripe with fruit. Bright blue tent cities in empty lots full of children. People cooking over open fires. Empty car carcasses, stripped of anything of value. Beautiful palm trees and bougianvilla vines among the rubble. Men and boys urinating in the street. People selling their wares on the sidewalks - hot food, vegetables, iron artwork, vibrant paintings, clothing.

Words can't describe it. The photos don't capture it. If a photo can say 1,000 words, then you need 1,000,000 words to express what we observed driving through the streets, trying not to get bounced out of that truck. We can't express the vibe of the city, the tone of the people, the spirit of the Haitians. People stared at us as we drove by. We wonder what they were thinking of our entourage?

Questions ran through our minds:

How can people live like this?
How do they keep going when everything is in ruins?
If this is 2 months later, how bad was it the day of the quake?
How can we help these people?
Can we really make a difference?
How can this country be transformed?

And then we remember that this is exactly why we are here this week. To find ways to make a difference, to help this country re-build and sustain itself. We are here to identify the most pressing needs and find ways to work hand-in-hand with the Haitians to transform this country.

1 comment:

cris said...

very poetic and moving. bless you and your work.