photo credit: rachel fears
We pulled into City de Soleil with the windows rolled down, listening to “Somebody That I Used to Know” in my iPod. The grime in the air seemed to stick to my skin even quicker than I remembered. Little brown kids ran into the street, screaming with bliss “Blanc!” “Blanc!”
We passed through the place we used to do food distributions. Not the best of memories, to be honest. Our first time there was filled with fears and feelings of not being able to do enough. “What was a food distribution going to do in the long term anyway?” I remember asking myself. This place was flooded with sick children; the poorest of the poor inhabit these slums. This is the poorest place in the Western hemisphere.
If you take a right and head down a little road, still overpopulated with burning trash piles and people selling Cokes, you will find a small church. This church is one of the first places Justice Water built a rain catchment tank. We park our car and meet a pastor that Ryan lovingly calls “Eddy Murphy” (He looks just like him!). He takes his hand and begins to walk to the tank to show us all.
That tank. Oh, I remember that tank. Last year, we struggled to finish it with the crew we had. It felt impossible trying to rope Haitians in from that community. Determined to finish the project, we pressed on. Sifting “sand” that was really white rock; working in the smallest work space ever for such a large tank; guttering and trying to get out before sun down (it is City Solei, after all).
Expecting a giant, gaping hole or a leveled rain tank foundation, I turn the corner to see a fully operating rain catchment tank. I listen and interpret as best I can…”There was a small hole…” as the pastor points to the tank…”but, we were able to patch it up easily”. My mind did a turn. What? I was embarrassed. Why would I expect anything less from these amazing people?
Hope grew in my heart. Haiti is not what it used to be. And, its certainly not what it used to be to me. I look to my left. I greet Santia, Widline and Mirline. These three girls were students in a YWAM school, which we taught last summer in Port-Au-Prince. They are ecstatic to see our group (some of their fellow students!). I take note of the amazing men and women I am standing with- Haitian, American and Canadian. We worked with almost all of them on that very tank last year, barely knowing one another. Now, I call these people my family.
I look around. Where am I? What once was a place representative of the very heart of destruction, fear and pain in one of the poorest places in the world is now a representative for hope. For rebuilding. For healing. Jesus has transformed this community. One of the vehicles He has chosen for this place is water. Another is me and Ryan.
Humbled. Excited. This is the way I feel in this country that has crept into my heart so slowly that I am always surprised by my love for it. Haiti. You are changing. You are not what you seem.