Friday 17 January 2014

over the wall

I prepared for months for this trip.

Many more gave time, money, vocal support, a listening ear, advice and prayers (prayers most important of all as it happens) to get us here now.  And to arrange that twenty foot box full of random stuff that will hopefully make a difference somewhere.  I was almost spent before I got here.  With packed bags the money was absurdly inadequate given the cost of this sleepless city.  How can a shoddy hotel room with very basic facilities cost a minimum of $70 or $80 a night?  Many American aid workers come here on full expenses might be part of the answer, as well as an over exuberant business mentality that is everywhere from the sugar cane seller to the hotelier.  But that's just part of it - the discomfort, the pain comes to mind first.  But there's also the joy, the joy which exceeds many of the experiences I have ever had.  I prepared myself for a difficult trip - for two years.  And now I am here I am shocked by the good fortune that has washed in around us - yes, the suffering and poverty and filth is still in abundance - but we are living in exclusive comfort in the convent.  And I feel guilty most of the time that this is not what I prepared myself for - I am secure and comfortable, yes -  but it's still unfair given what exists out there, over the wall!

This is where many fell.  But without doubt the people seem stronger than before.  My last visit was two years ago.  There was residual rubble and occasional scars from the earthquake were still visible in places.  Most of the blue plastic sheets for roofs had been cleared and sheltering frightened people coerced to move elsewhere out of sight.  Or told to return to their precariously built houses and repair them.  Perhaps help was available to them in various forms and the road to recovery - at least to a level pre-quake - was slow and frustrating.  Life certainly has its struggles - life here certainly has a dark side.  But they all shine too with a boundless brilliance. Every moment I spend here it changes who I am.  Get close enough to experience the Haitian temperament, their soul, the love and laughter they give freely . .  their smile shining freely and generously.

The president is doing a good job - he is a good man - one of the sisters tells me with a calm conviction . . " . I pray for him!" Sister Gisele disclosed, as we chatted, mixing colours together on the convent rooftop, painting the mountain.  The summit, way up high in the bleaching renewing sun! A summit way too far to reach.