Port au Prince, Haiti Day 5

The internet was down last night so I was unable to blog. It sounds like air traffic is increasing—helicopters, big planes, little planes, all day and perhaps through the night. Haiti used to be receive such infrequent air traffic, all I heard was song, voices, birds, drumming, breezes, dogs and roosters.

I drove through the city today and the destruction is unfathomable. Strange, eerie, surreal images of a once poor but bustling city—-a bust and a random office chair still standing in front of a crumbled Ministry of Justice. A person searching through papers scattered in the dust of a former office building, looking for????? Maybe someone he loved worked there; perhaps there is a trace.

I met a friend of many years today and she is almost transparent with shock and grief. Both her parents and in laws lost everything; 3 family members died, many friends and colleagues gone, and not yet found, or only found recently. Most of her people have left but she and her husband remain to offer their cars to NGO’s in desperate need of transportation, to “be here for Haiti; we have to rebuild. We cannot leave.”

A young man from the city began his session today with “I have no hope. I watched my parents and brother die when the house fell; everything is gone.” He has a few months work with an NGO; then what? Stars for a ceiling, just enough money to eat, nothing to rebuild, or to buy a tent or mattress. He is so tired from not sleeping at night, from worrying about where to shave, go to the bathroom, lay down as opposed to sit up–but he won’t nap. “This job is all I have–if I sleep they will fire me”.

I’ve requested a large tent to create a resting space, a quiet space for those who share this unimaginably difficult reality. The choice to sleep a few hours when the work day ends, or during lunch.

Tomorrow, more stories and I listen for a thread of hope. There is nothing easy to say to the things people are sharing. I reflect on my contemplative training: listen, listen, listen. I offer a few reflections, ask to learn about loved ones lost, to know their names, and maybe an idea comes into the space–a way to rest, cope, regain hope.

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