Port au Prince, Haiti Day 8

Today I awoke early enough to meditate, and found myself holding my heart and crying. The pool of sadness is deep, deep, deep.

We were encouraged yesterday by the emergency response logistics coordinator–who is an amazing person to have around–to walk around the neighborhood (we are near the Hotel Montana). We began a new project today with the local neighborhood–they formed a committee and are cleaning up the smaller debris which has blocked the road. I walked through the hot, dusty, stinky clean-up and whenever I spoke with someone and commented on the challenge of this work, they replied “nou oblige.” “We are obliged.” I have heard this many times–this is our home, our heart. We are here and we have work to do. Kembe la. We stand, we are strong, we endure.

I walked to the Hotel Montana and, convinced I had taken a wrong turn (despite my having been there many many times) I finally asked a US soldier where the hotel had been. The stench should have cued me. He pointed to a massive pile of rubble peeking above a very large red gate. It wasn’t just the pile of rubble–I expected that–the entire landscape has changed. I did not recognize the road, the earth the environment, despite my knowing the area well. My book club used to be here! I had a moment of complete disorientation, and, looking across the valley, saw an apartment building much like the one I used to live in. Half of it was “broken off” and hanging towards the edge of the mountain. I felt dizzy. My God, this must have been awful to feel the 34 seconds of violent lurching, shaking, and rolling. It looks, here, like the whole world fell down.

One person returned to talk to me today and said he had rested, for the first time. He practiced some very simple grounding techniques I taught him. We spoke of a healing, memorial garden for his lost children and he “arranged the flowers” in his mind, and heart. We will look for a place tomorrow to plant the flowers.

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