Day 2: The Water Truck
“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.” – Mother Teresa
Our devotions tonight felt very different than last night. Last night was about hope, about healing, about rebuilding: person by person, family by family, community by community. Tonight, unfortunately, we struggled to put a positive spin on anything we witnessed. Tonight our words were much less optimistic.
The pictures will tell a different story. The beautiful smiling faces, the laughter, the children splashing in the water…it will appear as if this was a happy day. And while there were many moments of joy, the enormity of the heartbreak is hard to camouflage.
Cite Soleil is, essentially, a slum. In fact, it is the poorest slum in the western hemisphere. Two hundred and eighty thousand people live in a 3 square mile area. Living is not the right word, though. What they are actually doing is surviving. Entire families live on less than $1/day, which is easy to say; easy to throw out as a statistic, easy to gloss over as words on a computer screen. But when you see it, smell it, hear it, feel it, experience it….it becomes painfully real.
Our job was to bring clean, potable water to them.
Here’s the dichotomy we experienced. The joy we saw, the laughter we shared, and the gratitude shown to us when we carried their 5 gallon buckets…it came from the children. It came from the innocence of youth. It came from the blissful ignorance of their reality.
Once you hit a certain age in this country (we observed it to be somewhere around 15-16), the eyes harden. The smiles disappear. The reality of their life has set in, and the despair at knowing they may never escape this situation has settled into their souls. With 80% unemployment, virtually no education, and a government that has forgotten them, hope feels empty. In fact, hope becomes painful. To some, it may feel like God has forsaken them.
The one ray of light we saw was Hope Church. Sitting on a sea of garbage (40 feet deep) in the middle of Cite Soleil, Hope Church has become a beacon of light in the community. Built with funds from Healing Haiti, but built ENITRELY by Haitians (jobs are the answer, jobs are the long term solution, jobs are what are desperately needed here), it is a free school and church for the people who live there.
They started their first Kindergarten classes two weeks ago, and, now, a new world of possibilities has blossomed. The spark has been lit, and God will surely follow them as they start their new, hope-filled, journey.