I wasn't sure what to expect on my return to Haiti. I started noticing the changes immediately. At our first stop delivering water to Cite Soleil, instead of noticing poverty, I saw that Hope Church had been finished and school was in session. There were between 160-200 young students in the newly formed Kindergarten class, including children between the ages of 3-7. So instead of holding two or three children while watching buckets being filled with water and hauled to homes, I handled the water truck hose. There were noticeably fewer children hanging around the water truck that day because they were in school!
Last year when we visited an organization that temporarily takes care of sick infants and toddlers, I saw lots of sick or malnourished children who were crying in the cribs, sometimes with very wet diapers. This year, visiting that same place, I saw tireless workers changing diapers, changing bedding, preparing meals, feeding children, doing endless laundry, while knowing the likes and dislikes of each child and laughing at their antics. I also watched as many mothers and some fathers lined up at the door to see their children during visiting hours, sitting with them, cuddling them, doing their hair, loving them.
Last year when we visited a home for disabled children and adults, some of them severely disabled, I cried. I cried for the children so disabled they could move nothing but their eyes. I cried because some were nearly unresponsive, laying in their cribs with flies buzzing everywhere. This year while visiting these same precious children, I nearly cried with tears of joy. Again, the changes were significant. These same children acknowledged me when I approached them. They waved their arms and audibly laughed when they heard my voice. They were obviously well cared for. The walls were painted with Disney characters; reinforced metal screens had been installed to keep the flies off the children; a pharmacy had been set up in a separate room, which was incredibly clean and organized. The same children that made me cry last year had me laughing this year!
So, are these changes actual physical changes for the better? Absolutely. But the way I "see" things also changed. I see the hard work, the caring hands, the love of God in every place I visit. So yes, Haiti has changed, but so have I. I see the promise in Haiti's future, despite the hardships. I see the drive of the Haitians to be self-sustaining and the tenacity to carry it out. I see God's hand in everything.
By: Wendy Haagenson