What a full week we have had here in Haiti! Words cannot begin to describe the range of emotions we felt over the last 5 days. We’ve had highs and lows, sharing these brief moments with the children here in Port-Au-Prince, specifically in Compassion project HA-353. Today, Compassion-Haiti operates a full office with 76 full-time employees currently serving 241 projects similar to 353. HA-353 alone has 347 “Compassion children” who fall under the Child Development Program (through sponsorship), and in total, Compassion-Haiti counts more than 72K registered children who receive education, medical care, meals, and the opportunity to hear the lasting message of Jesus. Taken into account that each one of those 347 children come from individual families (only one child per family), the actual reached/impacted family members is much, much more than that!
As mentioned yesterday, as a team (broken up into two groups) we were able to visit the actual homes of a couple sponsored children. While we saw the poverty over the previous few days, this gave us a chance to actually step into someone’s home and experience it first-hand. In many cases, multiple people live in a single bedroom ‘house’ and live on dollars a day. In fact, seventy-five percent of the population in this community is unemployed. 75%!? It was heartbreaking and sobering to take in.
On top of that, it was gut-wrenching to hear the stories of nearly everyone this week about how the earthquake affected them two years ago:
- Dave & Marilyn (the operators of the guest house we’re staying in) just left Haiti hours before and had to get updates via satellite phone on the state of Villa Ormiso.
- Johnny (our Compassion translator/driver) just dropped off two Compassion representatives to a high-end hotel and ended up having to walk home (miles!) just to get an update on his wife.
- 62 children that were a part of Compassion’s Programs in Haiti died as a result of the earthquake, and a total of 434 died overall (which included the children’s family members, project staff and pastors).
- 4,638 houses were destroyed and over 14K houses damaged as a result of the earthquake (of those a part of Compassion’s programs).
And, that is just the TIP of the iceberg. We’ve heard stories of people who still won’t sleep in concrete-ceiling houses because of fear that they’ll collapse. Even now, over two years later, there still are tent cities where Haitians have made their homes. It’s eye-opening to realize that a country that is less than a couple-hour flight from Miami has been so devastated.
With all that we experienced and saw this week, I want to remember that God’s hand is at work and His name is to be praised about all things. One of the ladies we visited with yesterday was a true-picture of eternal-gratefulness. She was 80+ years old, took in a 10-year old boy, got hit by a bus in downtown PAP, isn’t employed, her tin-roof is leaking, no electricity or plumbing, and was reliant on her church for much of her provisions. Through all of this (and I’m certain this was only a glimpse into her life) she emphatically told us, “God is good. He is generous and gives many, many blessings.” Wow.
As we reflect on this amazing week, I want to remember those words: God is good. No matter what I see or experience, He is good. No matter how “good” my life may seem, He is good. No matter how difficult my situation appears, He is good.