Known for beautiful waters and Sandy beaches, the islands in the Caribbean are sought after destinations for travelers but somehow Haiti is overlooked by those craving rest and relaxation. Five years ago I started traveling to Haiti. My first trip was in 2012, just two years after the devastating 7.0 earthquake that claimed so many lives. By the time you read this post, I will be making my 5th trip to a country that is so much more than what you see and read about on the news.
Google “Haiti hurricane news” and you’ll see images of flattened houses, trees that took years to grown that now lie on their sides, and people lined up after waking for hours, desperate for deliveries of clean water and food in the hardest hit areas. Images in the newspaper show houses whose walls may still stand but without a roof and belongings, sun pours into eerily empty residences.
Among these images are also photos that tug at your heartstrings that show the very human side of the devastation caused by the earthquake and the resiliency of a nation that is trying to pick itself up and move on from the most recent natural disaster to strike the island.
I’ll also see families playing in the river on the ride into to Jacmel. Moms washing their children’s clothes for them to be clean for school lets me know I’ve almost arrived to the coastal city that I love.
A father holding his little girl close as they waited to cross a busy intersection, just like I used to do when my kids were little and something I do instinctually each and every time a car rounds the corner a little too fast.
There are road side stands abundant with fresh produce on Saturday market day that aren’t different from the tables piled high with produce at my Saturday farmers’ market.
These pictures show that Haitians aren’t all that different from the rest of us but their circumstances are.
In the past two weeks I’ve been in touch with friends in Haiti from Artisan Business Network who are on the ground and know what kind of help the artists I work with need. Today I am traveling to Haiti with 4 giant duffel bags full of donations – donations that you sent when you read my post. I have 198 pounds of donations that your friends and neighbors sent when you shared my post. You have made donations of products that I have shoved, crammed, and coerced into duffel bags so full they hardly zip. You have made monetary donations to the handful of trusted organizations whose great and impactful work I shared.
My heart is full. I am overwhelmed with gratitude and kindness that came with each box delivered to my doorstep over the past two weeks.
Some of the boxes came with notes thanking me for going, wishing me well on my trip, sending love to those I work with, or hoping that the product in the box would be helpful. Others came with no note, sent anonymously but the gesture was the same.
Every item packed in my duffel bags will make a difference and for that I thank you.
Thank you for being generous and finding it in your hearts to care about people who live in an amazing country that just can’t seem to catch a break from Mother Nature.
Really and truly thank you!