Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Haitian Reflection

John and I gave a presentation to the Heading Avenue Franciscan Sisters last Sunday. Following is a little reflection that we ended the program with.

This is Haiti

And so is this.

Life in Haiti is sometimes the same as here.

But often, it is different.

We here in the United States are so fortunate in the material sense.

We live in an orderly world with building codes and paved roads.

And plenty of doctors.

We have regular meals, plans, goals, and schedules.

We can begin to think that how we live is just the way the world is.

In Haiti, many parts of life are different. It is dirty and smells.

And too many children


When there is no electricity, schedules are set by the rising and setting sun.

Haitians hopes for the future

Are in some ways the same as ours

And in some ways different.

To get through the day.

To feed their children.

And send them to school.

To work hard so that life might be a little bit better for them and their children.

And to smile.

In the lack of structure, people hear and see God more.

They aren’t caught up as much in their own plans and in many ways have less control over their lives.

“Give us this day our daily bread,” is a prayer Haitians understand very well.

Perhaps they will be more interested in talking with a friend, singing a song, and praising God for any little blessing.

I’m fearful that in talking like this, we will be tempted to say, “In their poverty,

They really are happy.

But the poverty exacts

A terrible price.

We do have much to learn from the poor people of the world. In living in such dire circumstances, they realize what is important.

Like how great God is.

They realize what is important like we would if we were told we had six months to live.

But the poverty exacts a terrible price, a price that the developed world should not tolerate. When we turn out heads, it hurts our souls.

A Polish sister we know runs a health clinic in a very poor area. She has been to the United States and echoes Mother Teresa when she says, “Americans suffer from a poverty of the heart. So what is the solution?

Perhaps a clue can be found in the Haitian motto on the Haitian flag: L’union fait la force. Through unity, strength.

Or to put it another way, we need each other.

She needs your time and talent.

They need your treasure.

All need your prayers.

But we need them too.

To save us from shallowness, self-absorption, and materialism and lots of other causes of sinfulness and unhappiness.

To remind us that the most important thing is how we treat one another. That the Way is both a means and an end. That we are charged with bringing the Kingdom of God to Earth.

To do our part to make the world a beautiful place. For everyone.


Anonymous said...

Since 2005 my daughter & I have only made 4 trips to Haiti, and will continue, to help at the children's hospital with the Missionary Sisters of Charity in Port au Prince. We give these children the only thing we have to give them during our short stays there. LOVE.

Only seeing is believing. There are no words to describe the plight of the people of Haiti. To view the beautiful sunsets against the landscape of extreme poverty is an oxy-moron to the eyes. One has to wonder, did God do this intentionally? Show us the beautiful sunset, only to draw our eyes to what rests just below it? Some will turn a blind eye. Others will do whatever is in there power to make even a meager difference in just one of their lives. And those who can't will powerfully pray for them.

If the only difference I can make in a Haitian child's life is to hold them, rock them, play with them, LOVE them, if only for a few days, then that is all I need to keep returning. Both my daughter & I have been questioned, why Haiti? Why not Africa? or India? The Philippines? Are there not people in need there too? Even here in the U.S. Are there not homeless, poverty stricken people here too?

My only answer can be, Yes, there are countless in the world who need help! But I am only 1 person. I have only been given one connection to help those in need, & it happens to be in Haiti. And I feel blessed that I'm able to do only that. Our U.S. government provides opportunity, assistance (both financial & medical) to it's poverty stricken. Some may say they cannot "find" work, only because they are too proud to flip-burgers or mop floors. And far too many rely on the government's generosity to provide for them. Opportunity is available in the U.S, if we're willing to swallow our pride. The government of Haiti provides no assistance to their people. They have only themselves & God to rely on.

Many thanks & God's Blessings to Dr. John Carroll, and others like him, who have set their sights below the sunset & choose to share their time, medical talents & treasures to make a difference; one person at a time.

Maria Carroll said...


What beautiful and eloquent words. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us and your gifts with the people of Haiti.


Reno said...

I have been doing volunteer work in Haiti and other countries in the south for 26 years. I have spent much more time in Haiti, because I find that there needs are greater.

I wish every one could spend time in Haiti and see for themself just how hard life is. And yet, I have always found the people very happy. It is needs, not wants that they are missing.

People ask me how hard it is there, and I tell them that it is not hard. I have a return ticket, they do not. They have to continue to live under there hard conditions.

A visit to Haiti will make someone realise just how much we have.

God bless you for all the work you are doing through Haitian Hearts. Keep up the work.


Maria Carroll said...


Thanks for your kind words. Hope to see you in Haiti soon.