October Haitian Journal

As most of you know, I was in Haiti from October 8th through October 18th working on establishing the Santa Chiara Children’s Center, which is the new outreach ministry of Pax et Bonum Communications. Each day during the trip I kept a detailed journal. Since my return home, I’ve been busy typing the journal I wrote by hand. I thought I would post one journal entry on my blog. If anyone wants to see the full journal please write to me at http://www.straubgt@aol and I will send you a pdf file.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015 at 7:05pm. Tonight we feed six kids and one adult a very hearty meal prepared by the loving hands of Ecarlatte who made a big pot of rice and beans and a big pot of chicken parts and potatoes strewed in tomato sauce. Cooked outdoors, it took nearly three hours to prepare. As she dished out the plates of food I thought the portions were too large and couldn’t imagine anyone finishing what she had served them, especially the little kids. But I was wrong. Very plate was returned to the kitchen without even a grain of rice on it. After the meal, everyone sat around the balcony laughing and joking…their bellies were full and they were happy. The homeless woman for whom we built the tent structure seemed especially happy to have a hot meal and eat it in a pleasant environment. Everyone was especially hungry tonight because we were busy this morning the Fr. Camy and checking on the alternative location for the center and so we never prepared a lunch for anyone.

Fr. Camy told us how hard it was to help the poor in Haiti. The people are conditioned to expect corruption, after all they have known nothing but corruption and abuse for centuries. People question his motives, thinking he is lining his own pockets more than he is educating poor kids. He said starting something new is always very hard and that we need to stay strong and trust in God. God, he said, knows our hearts even if everyone else doubts our motives. I mentioned that even in America when you attempt to bear witness to the Gospel you eventually will encounter resistance from the consumer-oriented, self-satisfied corners of our society.

I felt a bit down today…I suppose I was just overwhelmed by the scope of the problems the poor face in this poor place. Everywhere you turn you encounter another heart-breaking story. Tonight as I watched everyone consume their meal, I thought: “What will they eat next week when we are not here?” I also thought about the thousands upon thousands of people who are just as hungry as those we served tonight. The problem seems insurmountable. I said something to the priest along the lines of “God is bigger than our problems…no job is too big for God.” Yet, at times, I don’t believe that. I think about, for instance, the cost-effectiveness of this trip. What have we done so far? We built one tent structure for a homeless family, and we feed, on average, six kids three meals a day. I have no idea exactly what we have spent on food and building supplies these past four days, but it must be around $500. But when you add in the $2,000 in plane tickets for Ecarlatte and me, someone might question the cost effectiveness of our efforts. But, if you were here and saw the smiles, those cold questions would melt away.

This is a land of endless sad stories. The people are hurting. There is a tangible sense of anger and frustration in the air. Everything is truly hard. If I had only had ten bucks to my name and was alone in Port-au-Prince…I wouldn’t last a week. As I write this journal entry, there is so much laugher outside on the balcony I need to put down the sad pen and go film the fun.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015 at 8:40pm. The kids are still on the balcony playing. A few minutes ago, I went to the bathroom to take a quick shower. I was hot and sweaty from the long day. I turned on the shower…a few drops came out, then nothing. The tank on the roof was empty. I became very frustrated, very quickly. But in the middle of my silent rant as I got dressed I realized all the people we served tonight had no shower water either…ever. As a Franciscan, I’m supposed to praise God in everything, the good and the bad alike. That is often not easy. It wasn’t tonight.

It is now near nine o’clock…the kids are still here. We woke up with three of them already here, slipping on the floor in Baby’s room. By 7:00am, four or five more kids came for breakfast. To be honest, I’m not used to having so many people around all day long. I remember filming at the St. Francis Inn (the soup kitchen in Philadelphia) and hearing how the staff needed to protect a little quiet time every day for each of them. The needs are so overwhelming, then can cause you to work yourself to the point of exhaustion. We’ll have to establish reasonable limits or we will burn ourselves out rather quickly. Each day here is our small apartment, we have kids with us from 6:00am to 9:00pm. I don’t know how many will be sleeping here tonight.


2 Responses to “October Haitian Journal”

  1. 1 theluzfund October 22, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    Thanks Gerry. I very much appreciate your writings. They may not seem like much to you, but they mean much to me. I do not think I could do Haiti. I leave for three weeks in Peru next Thursday, returning a day before Thanksgiving. One week will be spent at Dr Tonys. Stay strong. Chuck

  2. 2 Nancy October 23, 2015 at 4:57 am

    “Never worry about the numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.” – Mother Theresa

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