Tuesday, August 23, 2011
It may have been that I was coming back from getting my last shot in preparation for our VIM team's October trip to Haiti, but this was my experience today. As I was walking to my office, I saw people outside buildings in our DC community seeking safety and couldn't help but think about the continued struggles of our brothers and sisters in Haiti as they recover from last January's earthquake. Our nation's capital was hit today with a 5.9 magnitude earthquake. This led staffers working in the White House, Capitol, and other offices across the city out of buildings as a precautionary measure, soon a rumor came that one house in DC may have collapsed, and I received texts and calls from friends and family to see whether I was ok. Luckily, for the most part, our community was spared of anything worse than mere inconvenience.
As I stood outside my office building, I began to imagine what it must have been like last January as Haitians faced a devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake. What would we have done had our Capitol collapsed today killing nearly half of our elected officials as happened in Port Au Prince? What had Haitian parents and citizens been going through as they faced the reality that they didn't know their loved ones' whereabouts and had no way to reach them? What if the city's infrastructure today charged with leading the recovery was also left decimated? Even as a wealthy country, how fast would we recover as families? How fast would we have recovered as a nation? Unfortunately, Haiti's problem did not start today. It's part of a cycle of injustice that originates from its history as a French slave colony and has continued through decades of both internal and external exploitation.
Tomorrow, we'll go back to business as usual (pun somewhat intended). Still, the decisions made in our city will determine whether Haitians will have the resources to help them on their road to recovery and ensure that this recovery will be sustainable. Moving forward, let us not forget about this common and unique experience we had. The ground beneath our feet shook. Though the implications for us were much different, let this experience plant a seed of deep empathy within with hopes that for some, this state will grow into a more concrete state of solidarity. We owe this to our broader world community, our faith, and ourselves.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
The history of Haiti is so rich. From its inception, Haiti has had a cosmopolitan story, its inhabitants coming from so many lands around the world. It is a story filled with tensions of politics, economics and race but also of deep strength and spirituality. Standing today on African soil and knowing in a few short weeks I'll be in Haiti sends shivers down my spine. I'm eager to trace those steps of history from Cape Coast to Haiti, thankful to know that the story is still being told.