* Michelle Thoughts

Haiti Hopeless or Healing

One of the greatest tragedies in my socially conscious lifetime was the earthquake in Haiti this year. What a greater tragedy it would be to forget…

The Bazilme family, whom we shared a week with in Haiti last June (Pastor Delamy Bazilme is the in-country leader of Haiti Foundation of Hope), were recently in the Northwest. Hearing Pastor Delamy speak about the current situation brought both hope and helplessness. We can only thank God that he and his family are still alive, having been in Port-au-Prince the day of the quake. He has been working non-stop since the disaster, hardly sleeping, until their trip the States a couple weeks ago. Just over a year ago, I had heard him speak about the challenges in Haiti before ever setting foot there, but this time it was different. To hear him say the situation is simply “miserable,” I could sense in his voice and behind his jolly and gracious spirit, that he is worn and tired. I pray for his strength, endurance, and encouragement through this uphill battle, Pastor Delamy, the power house and the hope for so many people.

In an effort to stay in tune with the situation in Haiti, Jedd and I attended a talk at the Mercy Corps Action Center by a member of the International Crisis Group, an organizational that analyzes the factors driving conflict and makes recommendations for policy and reconstruction. He repeated something which was shared with us on the Nicaragua Immersion as well, which was that Bill Clinton actually took the blame for exacerbating the degree of devastation in Haiti.

In his presidency, Clinton pressured countries like Haiti to dramatically lower their tariffs on imported U.S. rice, leaving them unable to supply their own staple crop and diminishing their investments in agriculture. Now the U.N. special envoy to Haiti, he says: “It may have been good for some of my farmers in Arkansas, but it has not worked. It was a mistake. … I had to live everyday with the consequences of the loss of capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people because of what I did; nobody else.” We saw similar effects of American trade policies, which hinder self-sustaining agricultural production, in Nicaragua. Unfortunately, Haiti has become a prime example of just how detrimental our self-serving trade policies can get. It’s refreshing to hear Clinton apologize. I only hope he’ll be effective and thoughtful in helping turn this around. A major part of the Crisis Group’s reconstruction advice includes investment in agriculture, as well as expanding credit to small businesses and farmers and decentralizing the country’s economic center into eight regional development centers. According to the Group, the “Emergency” period in Haiti will last about three years (can you imagine a three year emergency?) and the First Phase of reconstruction will take a full decade. Policy decisions needed to move forward with a resettlement plan have yet to be made, and the country is waiting on U.S. Congress to approve desperately needed assistance funding for democratic elections in 2011 (a requirement to satisfy U.N. benchmarks).

In reflecting on the miserable catastrophe in Haiti, the ridiculous oil spill, the never-ending wars, the broken public school systems, and on and on with all that is deeply wrong with humanity, I have been very humbled. I’ve realized that I cannot solve the world’s problems and neither can anyone else. I’ve seen how complex, deeply rooted, and numerous our problems are. All that remains is trust in God. Not that I’ve given up or even become pessimistic really. But I’ve submitted to the reality that we as human beings are in over our heads, and our only hope is our Creator. A Creator, who- fortunately for us- is powerful and loving and has made great promises for justice, restoration, and a kingdom come on Earth as it is in heaven. He has asked us to be His hands and feet and to do small things with great love, trusting in His plan.

* Jedd Thoughts

Hope for Haiti

I’m in shock. My heart is crushed, and I am deeply saddened.

It’s been about 7 months since our journey to the Haiti we once knew, now forever changed, a Haiti in desperate need of help and hope. You might recall posts from our recent trip about the land, our pictures, our love for the people.

First of all, many thanks to you for your prayers, thoughts, and financial support to organizations like the Red Cross, Mercy Corps, One Days Wages, and of course, our dear friends at Haiti Foundation of Hope. Please continue to pray for the people of Haiti, for the relief work, for those missing loved ones, for the aid workers preparing to travel, and for humility and a way to connect on a humanistic level to those affected by this disaster. There have been many tragedies in our world, yet this one feels so different to me as we think of our friends and the people there, the magnitude of the situation, barely being able to imagine what it’s like down there.

It pains and angers me to read comments that people believe that Haitians somehow deserved this (Read this CNN article about Pat Robertson), that the damage could have been prevented, that we should focus on putting blame on someone or God for the situation. Thankfully, there have been a lot of amazing reflection about this issue (like Donald Miller’s Response) and I am reminded that I do not help the issue by getting angry at others and trying to debate, but instead, I am called to support the relief efforts in anyway possible.

We must use our energy and resource to act and respond to help. I can’t even fathom how people have the audacity to cast away human suffering and need and focus on issues that distract from the true need at hand. I know there are some who can relate to this kind of suffering and tragedy, but for the most of us, we don’t and could never comprehend something to this magnitude.

Imagine sleeping in a building with no steel rebar in it for reinforcement, let alone on something that is kind of mattress. Imagine being one of thousands of homes that are built next to each other, on top of each other. Access to clean water, food, and medical care is scarce. Human waste and trash is hard to remove and transportation to and from your home is either walking or making your way in cramped trucks on rocky pathways that are meant to be roads. There is no stable economy, your country has been hit with several natural disasters, natural resources have been depleted from human action as well as mother nature, and you are too poor to be able to afford to leave and try to make a better life for yourself.

Now sadly, this was just day to day life for the average Haitian. Reality now, a 7.3 magnitude earthquake has just leveled and ravaged this country. All I can think of is, “Why of all places, Haiti?”, especially an earthquake. I read a report about the last major California earthquake and how it caused $20 billion worth of damage and over 80 people were killed. From the reports coming in through the media, tens of thousands have died in the Haitian earthquake and worst yet, aid such as clean water, food, and medicine can’t even make its way on to the island with damaged ports and blocked roads meaning that millions could suffer.

It’s been hard these past couple of days to not feel so saddened, to not feel for so many who have lost loved ones and in many ways the life they’ve known. Yet even in the midst of this chaos, I choose to believe that there is hope for Haiti, I know there is hope for Haiti. If there is a group of people who can endure through hardships, a group of people who know how to survive, and a group of people who will teach us all important lessons about life, it will be the people of Haiti. For many years that have not received the aid and respect they deserve. I hope that in these next couple days, months, and years, we will find a way to come together to work side by side with them to help rebuild their nation and their lives. There is still hope for Haiti.

Here are some pictures I took to get a sense of the buildings that once were, that probably do not exist anymore.

Other Travels

The People of Haiti


When I think about the people of Haiti, I am reminded of their beauty both in spirit and in appearance. They are striking and hauntingly beautiful, particularly when they smile which is not their typical first glance impression. Most Haitians at first glance seem unapproachable and a bit irritable. It’s not that they look mean, just not inviting. However, after saying hello or making eye contact, this facade or assumption I had of their personality, quickly gave way to their true nature of warmth and joy. HPeople20

They are very strong and physically fit people, being very active in their day to day routines and walking as their main form of transportation. However, the most distinctive and beautiful thing about Haitians in regards to their appearance is their eyes. HPeople17Haitians have very large, engaging eyes and a lot is said through them. I often found myself drawn to the way they would look at us with such curiosity as I looked back with wonder. I wondered what many of them thought about us being there. Whether or not the sight of us, our clothes, our actions, or words that we used seem strange or even silly.

I was very surprised that most of the people we met in Terre Blanche had such an intentional desire to get to know us on a personal level. They wanted to build relationships with us, wanted to know about who we where and why we felt God had brought us there. We loved that they felt very comfortable with us asking questions to them about their lives and knew they wanted us to know more about them.

In Terre Blanche, as we walked around the village, people would come out of their thatched roof homes to greet us with joy, and children in groups of 10 or more would follow us asking us to take photos of them. Sadly, not of all Haiti is like this and it’s a true testimony of the miracles and wonders God is doing to instill hope in the people of this village and in many other parts of Haiti (where the people of Haiti are in partnership with aid workers).

Overall, life in Haiti is difficult. I’ve often complained here in the US about not having enough money to buy something that I want, or worried about what I don’t have, but the truth is, compared to majority of the people there, I am a very rich man and was humbled at what I witnessed.



The types of conditions that Haitians live in seem unfair, especially for how hard they work to survive on a day to day basis. It is extremely difficult to get access to clean water, most of the once fertile land (more about the land another day) has been washed away by floods (and continue to be damaged by floods), roads and buildings have been and are continuously devastated by storms, and the government is inadequately equipped or adept to deal with the massive needs of the people. Many do not have a lot of clothes or food, and then if something medically goes wrong, getting proper health care becomes a major issue (thank God for the clinic). But even facing all of this, I was inspired by their spirit and the countless stories of love and sacrifice they had for each other.


Before we went to Haiti, Pastor Delamy thanked us for the hope we would bring to Terre Blanche and the people of Haiti. Yet, when I was there, I learned about family members walking miles barefoot in 90 degree weather to bring love ones to the clinic, proud parents who try hard to feed their children and can’t, a woman around 80 years of age who walks 9 miles a day to conduct her business (and succeeds), and Haitian leaders who give everything of themselves (even facing dangerous situations) in the hopes that they can make a difference in the lives of their people.

If anything, I came away with hope from the people of Haiti, that even in the poorest country, life on a very rich scale takes place, where miracles abound, and a strong sense of God’s presence rests among the people. I guess a part of me is envious because their faith and trust in God seemed so real, being that their needs are great, whereas often times my prayers and requests to God of what I need seem so trifle.

Pastor Delamy thanked us at the end of our trip for loving his people, who he loves and thinks of as his children, and it reminded me how God as father loves us as children. Can I learn to trust and believe that God will provide for all my needs and quiet my worries and remember the hope and faith that the beautiful people of Terre Blanche have in Him?







Related posts:
The Land of Haiti
Haiti Recap Video
Learn more about Haiti Foundation of Hope