Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

January 14, 2010

Haiti – – Memories and Grief

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 6:00 am

I cannot comprehend the devastation in Haiti.  My heart trembles as I try to imagine the scene of death, injury,  fear, and confusion.  We will probably never know the total effect upon the survivors of this terrible act of nature.  Their lives will forever be changed.

My mind goes back to past days in Haiti.  Those  days were so below par from our living conditions.  Though the country has come a long way from my days there, the nation is still so far behind most countries in the world.

Life has improved.  Most of the people know better living conditions now.  Education has improved, medical care is better, governing officials are more sensible, housing has improved, and though malnutrition still exists, it is not as rampant.  It has been almost  35 years since I spent time there.  I will perhaps tell more later, but one small glimpse for now.

The country was under a ruthless dictator.  He had little regard for human life and thus made no effort to improve living conditions.  He did  not care for outsiders.  He was suspicious, especially of Americans. He certainly did not respect my wish to go up into the mountains, some 250 miles.  It took 2 days to get permission.  I had to show the documents to pass through security and leave the city of Port-au-Prince.  I had to sign that the government would not be responsible for me, and I was told emphatically that if I failed to return there would be no one to come look for me.

With my companions, we made the long journey.  There was nothing but severe poverty.  Most homes were made from mud and tree limbs.  Families  tried to grow a few crops, but landslides consistently destroyed so much for which they worked.  I was an outsider who attracted much attention.  In fact, except for a few people who had been to the city, most had never seen a white person.  They wanted to touch my skin to see how it felt. The witch doctor that controlled that area felt threatened, and we were continually watched. 

What we found were people who were truly hurting.  They had so little.  Yet, their friendliness and compassion was overwhelming.  They would do their best to provide food for us or a place to sleep.  From the children with bloated stomachs from malnutrition, to the aged that would struggle to walk because of injuries for which there had not been medical care, I did not find a person who complained about their plight. There were no expressions of bitterness.  Though they lived under such adverse difficulties, they accepted life as they knew it.  They did not exhibit a spirit of sadness or defeat, but they showed themselves to be  people of determination.

I am confident that same spirit is prevailing in Haiti today amid this crisis.  Oh, they are in despair, of course.  But they will demonstrate a spirit of survival.  Although they can do little for themselves physically or materially at this time, there is something we can do.  We can respond to many calls that might come asking to give help, but what will cost us little will be a fervent commitment to prayer.  We may never know how our prayers may affect individuals, families or a nation, but we can be confident of a Heavenly Father that loves every person and is attentive when His children pray for others.

“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by your Father in heaven.”  (Matthew 18:19)                                                                                                                               “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”  (James 5:16)




  1. Amen and Amen. They are a beautiful people. I hope you write about the magic tricks and the Witch Doctor-one of my favorite Haiti stories.

    Comment by jjr, mo — January 14, 2010 @ 5:13 pm | Reply

  2. So impressed by the majority of Americans being interviewed in the midst of the ruin. Most of them were there to help the Haitians- church groups, missionaries, secular groups. They vow to go back to continue to help rebuild.

    Comment by Carol Mathews — January 15, 2010 @ 8:46 am | Reply

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