We Can't Forget Haiti
by Rachel Estes
Arriving in Haiti is immediately intense... in a joyful, chaotic, welcoming, stunning way. There are the teams of volunteers pouring off the plane and into customs; there are the UN soldiers watching; there are the men in grey uniforms who are vying to help with luggage. The feeling is one of "falling down the rabbit hole." And yet, as the drive to the guest house continues, there are the familiar—polite drivers, rude drivers, honking, beautiful bread being sold on the roadside, women with huge smiles watching us drive by.
Mike (Willis), Donette (Lataillade) and Belorne facilitate the guest house and do it with such graceful precision. This is a time for crisis, for reaction, for organization. Come to Haiti ready to be fully present, to work hard and to reflect harder. They are strict in a way that is kind and caregiving to the country that we're flowing into. Cultural instructions, advice, and differences are a large part of the orientation all done to make sure that we are as un-invasive as possible.
The work. Lines of swinging 5 gallon buckets of concrete... for hours. Due to the heat and, to be honest, the intensity of a work we're not used to, we are cautioned to take breaks every 20 minutes or so. A hard thing (but crucial) for a North American, who is there to "WORK." This proves to be discussion many a night at devotion. The children work alongside of you. They are eager to help, to play hand games and to practice counting in English. Creole was not a language that comes easily, so references to Michael Jackson were helpful as a cross cultural connection.
Here is what I told my daughters when I got home:
"I was so glad to go to Haiti. I was very ready to come home. I am grateful to be going again. And I will feel ready, again, to come back... to share the stories, the reflections and the reasons we can't forget Haiti."
Rachel Estes participated in a May 3-8 UMVIM trip to Haiti with Canterbury UMC, Birmingham, AL, with Team Leader Matt Lacey. She has signed up to be a team leader for another UMVIM trip to Haiti and will schedule soon.
Read more about this UMVIM team from North Alabama Conference and see their photos on the Conference web site.