Haiti January 12, 2013

4:53 pm, 1/12/13. I am turning our car into Belvil, the quiet neighborhood, where I stay in Port au Prince. It is the precise moment when the earthquake of 2010 devastated Port au Prince 3 years ago. My friends, colleagues and I have spent most of the preceding week talking about how impossible it is that 3 years have past. As I observe the life on the streets, I see hundreds of people on cell phones, selling market wares, buying, walking and sitting while sad, thin dogs scrap for food. I muse at the thought that perhaps none of them are aware that 4:53 pm is upon us; 2 years ago, at the multiple 1 year commemorations, there were thousands of moments of silence around the country. Today, life is doing the usual, just as it was in the moment the earth opened up and shook, rolled and slammed.

I think it’s incredibly sane that life goes on. I spent most of the day being with close friends who I reached out to within minutes of my learning about the earthquake back in 2010. We talked about the elegance of how many people are in simple observation: a trip to the cemetery (or, cemeteries); visits to sites where friends and family perished; time for reflection with family. One friend shares how a dear friend of hers who lost her husband and was left alone with 3 small children, woke up, fed the children, took them to see their fathers grave, and then came home to do the very things they all loved to do together, reveling in the safety of their home. And their togetherness.

My friends son, a musician who wrote a compelling song about the beauty that is so paradoxical to Haiti’s many challenges, says “3 years already? The bruises still seem fresh”.

The song I am referring to, “Ayiti Se” (check out the official video on you tube; Ayiti Se Official Video Mikaben) celebrates everything Haiti is. There is no dwelling on what Haiti isn’t, hasn’t, or lost.

This is the spirit that showed up in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake (and so many of Haiti’s other tragedies and calamities) that so many of us labeled resiliency. It is resiliency, and; its more. One of the conversations about future projects I am engaged in, on behalf of TRI, is support for a documentary about these places, historic moments and cultural practices, that are Haiti’s ancient heart and soul. The richness of these places is available to all of us. I have other projects cooking, related to revamping Haiti’s education so that children, from a young age, are taught to appreciate their rich and diverse cultural and spiritual history (I blogged about this in 2010). While I acknowledge the importance of never forgetting this terrible tragedy, I tire of the media’s ongoing focus on what’s still going wrong. Yes, I am outraged that so much promised aid never made it, and that people are forced to live in and around rubble. It is a slander to human dignity.

And while I am deeply concerned at the erosive quality the ongoing challenges of living in poverty, rubble, and violence have on Haiti’s blood-and-spirit resiliency, I am in awe of that resiliency. Its worthy of a deep bow, and celebration. So, from now on, TRI and my personal efforts will focus on projects that bring to a world thirsty for compassion, goodness and joy; the upswings in Haiti’s current path.

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