Monday, January 11, 2010

A first reflection on my week in Haiti

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.


  1. I enjoyed looking at your pictures, but the news I am watching doesn't look good. Please give us an update of how these very people that you helped last week are now doing during this disaster.
    -Pam T-

  2. Pam,

    As I write in my blog post today, our Haiti partners are safe. No news, however, about members of Per Val's several congregations. The Episcopal cathedral and school in Port au Prince, which we visited last week, alas, have been destroyed. No news of casualties there.


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