Thursday, January 23, 2014

True Poverty Part 2

My sister Wendy and I went to Lakewood Park for a 4th of July celebration. The fireworks were always fabulous shot over Lake Erie. As we were walking into the park the sky became a very interesting shade of green. The numerous trees in the park had been shaking all day with the wind but at this moment you could hear a pin drop. The trees were eerily still. It was the calm before the storm. In a split second the roar was so loud it rattled my teeth. Within seconds every tree in the park was uprooted and people were running and screaming. Within a minute or two four of our classmates would be dead and the park looked like a battle zone. Tornado's leave a path of destruction that is incredible.

Left in the wake of destruction like the tornado is hungry children, broken families, teens with no purpose, drug addiction, alcohol addiction and homelessness. Like the tornado that can happen in seconds it can take years to rebuild. In the park we were in that fateful evening it took many years to replant every single tree and have it grow to be strong once again. The lives of those four families that lost their children that day the destruction lives on.

When I look at Haiti I see much destruction. In Haiti most couples never marry. The reasons are many but at the top of the list is a lack of money to get married. The government requires purchasing a marriage license and when you can barely make it to feed yourself it is just easier to shack up. Of course in Haiti shacking up really can be a shack! An intact marriage is rare in Haiti.

Morality is another huge issue in Haiti. Stealing is not seen as wrong. Where I served we had to lock up anything that had any value. Stealing is a huge issue there. The government sees nothing wrong with stealing and the drug lords steal from them to sell to the people. It becomes a vicious cycle. At MamaBaby the issue of stealing had to be dealt with. You could be fired on the spot for stealing the medicines or the supplies for birthing Mama's.

The lack of opportunity is perhaps the biggest challenge over in Haiti. There are no places to flip burgers, no malls to work in, no government jobs. I see the women particularly at risk. Since most don't have a husband to help carry the load they are left to scrounge for food. When they do get food they have to decide if they will eat or will their children eat. Most chose to feed their children instead of themselves.

Education is not free over in Haiti. Our interpreter Claudin is 26 years of age and is just now graduating from high school. Many years his mother didn't have the money to send him to school. Not only do you have to pay for school but you have to purchase the school uniform. Most just don't have the money so most don't go to school. He is one of the rare gems found in Haiti. His mother was a hard worker and she worked to keep Claudin in clothes and food. He dreams of coming to America and going to college. Very few young man have the ambition to make something of their lives. They turn to drugs and violence and many times young women pay the heaviest price.

In my experience over in Haiti most women have lost any hope. On our intake form we had to ask many questions about their lives and health.  Over half of the women did not want to be pregnant and well over half spent their days sad and who can blame them? The future does not look bright for them. They bring babies into the world that they don't want because they know that trying to feed them will be a monumentum task. They understand the risk of having a baby. They have seen Aunts and Mothers die from childbirth, they see their babies die. It is frankly a bleak place.

Not all is lost though. There are glimmers of hope. There are Mama's who want to learn how to care for their babies. They are willing to walk twenty miles to MamaBaby in labor just to have compassionate hands serve them. There are groups who come from the United States to serve the people by training them to garden so they have food, to marry and not sleep around, to have self respect. No, not all is lost.

I remember the story of the little girl on the beach throwing one star fish back into the ocean while hundreds are laying there dying. Someone came up to her and asked why she did what she did since it was hopeless. She replied that for this one star fish she could make a difference. That is my prayer. That we can make a difference to just one. There are hundreds of women and children dying over in Haiti. But to the one we are able to serve it makes all the difference.

Tomorrow I want to talk about the role of government and the church in fighting poverty.
Till then go make a difference in the life of just ONE.
In Christ Alone,

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

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