I've seen poverty in the United States, but nothing compares to the poverty I saw last week in Haiti.
Penny and I spent January 2 through January 8 there as part of a Christ Episcopal Church mission team. Christ Church teams have served there once or twice a year since 1996.
I had heard that Haiti was the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. And then I saw that reality for myself.
Even in the capital of Port-au-Prince, the majority of Haitians live in shacks made of boards and corrugated metal or, for the better off, in squat houses made of cinder blocks; they have no indoor plumbing or reliable electricity (the power goes off in the late afternoon); little or no clean water for drinking and washing; no trash pickup; little or no access to medical or dental care; and no regular work, the unemployment rate exceeding 50 percent.
For most Haitian, every day is a right for survival.
Blue-helmeted, heavily armed UN troops rumble down the streets in trucks or drive by in jeeps or stand, guarding intersections. This was my first visit to a country whose peace and security are the responsibility of the United Nations's troops and police.
Haiti, our neighbor just to the south of Florida, is a tragedy.
And, yet, I returned from my week there full of hope and joy and with a deepened faith in Christ and a renewed commitment to the work of the church. The church, including our own, is making a profound difference for the good there.
I'll reflect more about my time in Haiti in future columns here.
For now, take a look at the photos that Penny and I took during our mission week. Go to:
And please pray for the people of Haiti.