March 1 – A personal reflection

I was broken in Haiti.

A little over a year ago, I was part of a team that arrived in Port-au-Prince a mere three hours before the earthquake. We lived through the destruction, the pain, and the suffering. I watched helplessly as the people of Haiti suffered injuries that none of us could heal. I watched as children died. It cut a deep scar in my heart, one I lived with for a year. The pain lessened, but the scar did not heal. It broke me. I felt distant from the people of Haiti, having seen them, but not having met them.

One year later, I have returned and I went to visit people in the central plateau of Haiti. I remember in particular that we met with an association of women. They welcomed us with great respect, glad we had come to meet with them. Over forty women openly shared their daily challenges. They spoke of raising their families under extremely difficult circumstances, many of them single parents, many of them taking in orphans. As difficult as it was, they seemed to accept that this is what must be done – and to simply do it. Amidst these incredible challenges, they demonstrated a remarkable spirit. They were filled with joy and thankfulness for what they had. They were filled with hope for their children’s future.

After the meeting, everyone gathered outside for a group photo. I went in front, one knee on the ground. A woman behind me placed her hands gently on my shoulders, and left them there as several pictures were taken. In that moment, it was like a wave of energy passed through me. Something important happened. For the first time, I felt that I was not just welcomed, but was accepted. In that moment, with my knee on the harsh ground that caused so much pain, with the touch on my shoulders connecting me to this wonderful woman, I was again made whole.

Haiti had healed that which was broken, and my year of mourning was at an end.

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