"Each of us as human beings has a responsibility to reach out to help our brothers and sisters affected by disasters. One day it may be us or our loved ones needing someone to reach out and help."
Michael W. Hawkins
I am truly saddened by the devastation in Haiti. It seems like the poorest of the poor continue to suffer the most. I made a couple of quick stops to Haiti via cruise ships in recent years but the short stays were limited to a private enclave open only to tourists so I was unable to visit the real Haiti.
My real Haitian experiences were in the 50’s when I visited the island a few times. It was in the days of Papa Doc and the brutal oppression of the peasant population. Not withstanding the extreme poverty and hard times I found the people to some of the warmest and friendliest I have ever met.
As an example a few friends and I were coming down the side of one of the mountains when we stopped at a small village and went into a hut where there was an old jukebox, a soda cooler with beer and soda on ice and a number of locals sitting barefooted on the dirt floor. There were no chairs and so we stood until some of the patrons went and borrowed chairs from neighbors for us to sit on. We had a few beers and talked to some of the people who understood English. Beer was ten cents a can and my friends and I maybe had a total of eight. I wanted to pay but all I had was $5 US and at the time I did not have much money so that was more than I could afford. The owner said no problem and found a motorcycle cop who went down the mountain to Port-Au-Prince a number of miles away to get change; it took him about an hour and he refused let me give him something for his trouble.
While that happened a long time ago I have often thought about these good people who had nothing, not even shoes, but who smiled and laughed in spite of it all. The memories have often put my problems into perspective.
Let me share with you this letter that was forwarded to me by one of my Salvation Army friends this afternoon.
Many of you know Major Bob Poff from here in the Central Territory of The Salvation Army. He and his wife are stationed in Port-au-Prince in Haiti.
Major Poff sent out the following letter a little while ago sharing his experiences during the earthquake and how The Salvation Army there is coping with the disaster. Also below is a link with TV interview with Major Bob Poff in Haiti.
Please keep the people of Haiti, our staff and volunteers in your prayers during this critical time of recovery from an earthquake that has left so much devastation.
For additional updates visit our Indiana Divisional website at http://www.salvationarmyindiana.org.
Your prayers are greatly appreciated!
Jo Ann Remender
Director of Planned Giving
The Salvation Army
Indiana Divisional Headquarters
Here is a copy of the letter from Major Poff
Devastation in Haiti
Words cannot begin to describe the devastation that has taken place in Port au Prince, Haiti.
I am the Director of Disaster Services for The Salvation Army in Haiti, and I am from the United States. My wife and I have been in PAP since April, and have fallen deeply in love with the country and it’s people.
When the earthquake struck, I was driving down the mountain from Petionville. Our truck was being tossed to and fro like a toy, and when it stopped, I looked out the windows to see buildings "pancaking" down, like I have never witnessed before. Traffic, of course, came to a stand-still, while thousands of people poured out into the streets, crying, carrying bloody bodies, looking for anyone who could help them. We piled as many bodies into the back of our truck, and took them down the hill with us, hoping to find medical attention. All of them were older, scared, bleeding, and terrified. It took about 2 hours to go less than 1 mile. Traffic was horrible, devastation was everywhere, and suffering humanity was front and center.
When we could drive no further, we left the truck parked on the side of the street, and walked the remaining 2 miles to get back to the Army compound. What I found was very sad! All of the security walls were down. The Children’s Home itself seems pretty intact, but our quarters, which is attached, are destroyed. Unlivable. The walls and ceiling are still standing – but so badly compromised that I wouldn’t even think of trying to stay there. All of the children, and hundreds of neighbors, are sleeping in our playground area tonight. Occasionally, there is another tremor – another reminder that we are not yet finished with this calamity. And when it comes, all of the people cry out and the children are terrified.
As I am sitting outside now, with most people trying to get a little sleep, I can hear the moans and cries of the neighbors. One of our staff went to a home in the neighborhood, to try to be of assistance to the woman who lived there. But she was too late.
The scene will be repeated over and over again. Tomorrow, we will begin the process of assessing damage, learning about casualties, and preparing for the future.
God bless Haiti.
Major Bob Poff
If you want to join with me and make a donation to help the Salvation Army with their disaster relief efforts you can do so at http://salvationarmyindiana.org/category/haitian-earthquake/
There have only been a couple of occasions over the past ten years that I have published the Daily that I did not include some humor to brighten our day. Unfortunately this is another time that is too solemn for levity, you may want to instead spend a few minutes in prayer for the Haitian refuges.
Speaking of prayer here is one from Holly Lebowitz Rossi that touched me; I hope it touches you as well.
Prayer and I aren’t always on speaking terms, especially lately, but as the Haiti earthquake images and death tolls slowly sink into my brain, I feel that tug that is the human instinct to pray.
So here it is. My prayer is for solid ground.
May the earth that crumbled beneath feet and homes and schools once again become solid ground for walking and loving and learning.
May worried families and friends discover their loved ones safely spared waiting for them on solid ground.
May those who are trapped amid the rubble feel the solid power of love and healing that the world is sending their way.
May we who are so far away from the devastation find a way to share some of the solid ground of our full lives with those who have lost so much.
May the solid ground of this simple prayer become a foundation on which Haiti can rebuild.
I wish I had the power to make things better for the Haitians and the others who suffer through no fault of their own. While I can note make miracles I can care, I can help in small ways, and I can help fund those who can do more than I can and for that I am grateful.
My Best Always,
Stay well and do good work.
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