My Wallpaper from Haiti

I love these two Haitian children. I don’t know who they are, but they are so beautiful, so charming -and they remind me of my sons in demeanor, the straightforward older one, the little hotdogger behind him.

They have been on my desktop since I posted this piece, an update on Haiti, mostly from the perspective of Ed, a missionary in a city called Petit Goave.

I get updates on Petit Goave, and Ed, from a reader named DeLynn, and each time I open one of her emails, it is with a feeling that is half-dread, half-gladness. Dread, because what the people of Haiti are living through is so harrowing, and it is reading that makes one’s heart ache. Gladness because I get to see pictures of people like these children, and they make me gasp with the vivacity and joy and courage I see in them.

Look at those smiles. These children have known joy and security in their lives, even without prosperity, which is a fleeting and illusory thing. The one in the foreground, who looks a little older to me, his eyes are full of light and life. That little one leaning over his shoulders -you can tell he’s a scamp.

I wish I knew their names
, but they have become a part of my life, even so. I turn on my computer and there they are, in all their youth and health and beauty, and they smile and I smile back, and ask God’s blessings on them, and their families, and on all the people in Haiti who are suffering, mourning, recovering, wandering, hoping, living, healing and laughing, even as they realize that “normal” has been completely redefined for them, that “ordinary” is no longer even on their map. I pray for the people who are working to bring them relief, and for a change-of-heart for those who would exploit or bully or terrorize or further victimize these people who have had every material thing, and many loved ones, taken from them. I pray for perseverance for these children and all their friends. And I pray that their future will be -with the help of God, and the goodwill of nations- better than their past has been.

A while back I wrote about the difference between Icons and popular idols:

An Icon looks out from an Intrinsic light and points to its Source; there are no shadows in which to hide

An idol looks out from man-created light, and points to no one but himself; then walks into the shadows

An Icon looks you straight in the eye and dares you to pursue truth.

An idol wears shades and has his spokesperson tell you what you want to hear.

An Icon teaches you how to focus, how to quiet down, focus, collect oneself and hear the small, still voice.

An idol teaches throws noise, images and issues at you, non-stop, scatters your thinking and deafens you to any voice but his.

An Icon whispers wisdom.

An idol shouts sound-bites and mindless trendspeak.

An Icon inspires you to chant to the Most High.

An idol inspires you to chant to him.

In a way, the image of these two little boys is as much a Holy Icon for me as is this image of Namrata Nayak. These photographs, of put-upon young people with eyes that are direct and fearless, are as instructive to me as any Orthodox Icon. Both humble me, and urge me to prayer, and instruct me as to what matters in life; they teach the power of light, and love. They demonstrate the transcendent, unconquerable human spirit that cannot be extinguished by adversity. A light shines in the darkness. The darkness does not overcome.

Here are a few updates from Ed,
and a few more pictures, as of Tuesday/Wednesday:

Some of the kids gathering for a game. Most of them dressed up in their best clothes as though they were coming to a fancy dinner. All of them are living in the street;many no longer have homes.

Writes Ed: “As long as they have food and somewhere to play, they’re okay. It’s when they go to bed under the stars that they remember.”

Yes, I’m sure that’s when the sounds and sensations of the earthquake come alive at night, reverberating in their memories.

The food handouts in Port au Prince (PAP) have not been going well. Too many people, and the strong push ahead and take most of it. Ironically, often the people that most need help are least likely to get it. This would have been the case even before the earthquake.

They did a food handout near the dock here in Petit Goave today and it got out of hand as well. Everyone is afraid there won’t be enough. Usually there isn’t, especially when bullies take more than their share. In communities that we work in, we are able to make sure each family gets some.

It is a huge task and we are dealing with hundreds and they with thousands.

And today, after many days of difficult reads…

I believe that wonderful things are going to rise out of this nightmare. We are getting some BIG dreams. It’s going to be a long hard road, but it’s going to be worth it. Lest we get too lost in the future, the ever present tremors keep us in the present. I hate those things. . . we gave supplies to 45 families this afternoon. Also, fed several folks here at the house and met with a few pastors. The weather was beautiful. We have ice and gas in town now. That’s great news. Don’t know when there will be electricity again. . . . it is night again. Everything here is dark. Everything except my computer screen, which the bugs can’t resist. Nearly time to head back to my tent. I am one of the lucky ones that has a tent. The moon is full tonight…and so are the streets

French rescuers have managed to pull a 16 year old girl out of the rubble – she was miraculously alive after 15 days – but these photographs of Port au Prince show a society breaking down. As difficult as things are in Petit Goave, with thugs, and thieves and hardship, it sounds like there is a measure of stability there.

When things calm down a little in Haiti, when mail can reliably get through, and something like a plan for moving forward exists, and the beginnings of order are in place, I want to send some baseball stuff to the children of Petit Goave. And dolls, and puzzles, and books. Maybe Team Rubicon can show me how to organize such an effort. I would love to do it. Can’t you just see those two boys up top wearing Yankee caps? Or this little guy?

Speaking of Icons, and Holy Things, look what Pianogirl has sent my way – what has been left standing amid the rubble of Port au Prince!

What is left of Sacre Couer Catholic Church, Reuters

The AP has another shot

Declaring and end to search-and-rescue missions must be heartbreaking for many thousands.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Maria

    The image of the Crucifix standing bold in the rubble is astounding.

  • Mark @ Israel

    The search and rescue mission in Haiti should not be terminated. It should continue. There may still be many people who are waiting to be rescued under those rubbles. There could still be miracles in this place. Individuals and governments of different countries should work hand in hand to help Haiti because they need it badly.

  • Dale

    Yankee Caps?

    [Maybe some Yankee caps, and some BoSox caps...for the fun of it. And maybe some of those tee shirts that show all umm...27 of the Yankees WS Rings? ;-) -admin]

  • NanB

    The crucifix amid the ruins is an extremely powerful photo; Jesus always triumphs. I hope that the search and rescue keeps going; there are probably quite a few still alive under the rubble.

  • Anne

    I would love to be able to send toys and such to the children of Haiti. A while ago, my daughter and I sent a box of Beanie Babies to Baghdad, and it would be wonderful if something like that was do-able. I’ve donated to Catholic Relief and to Team Rubicon, of course, but it would be nice to send “a little something” to those sweet faces.

    [I am really serious about this - in fact, I dreamt about it last night. Realized that with roving thugs moving through villages, real baseball bats might not be the thing, but certainly wiffle bats and balls, real mitts and balls (can't have a game of catch without them) and some gear should be within the realm of the possible. I will think more on this! Ed relates that the children do well when they are able to play; perhaps some "play therapy"!-admin]

  • CV

    That image of Christ on the cross still standing amidst the ruins reminds me of the steel beams left standing in the shape of a cross after the World Trade Center collapse.

    Could be coincidence, I suppose, but it seems more like a powerful message.

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  • F

    Love the Redeemer in the rubble. Its such a reminder to His beloved Haitian children to turn to Him: his church building may have fallen but He is still tough enough to stay strong & withstand it all for/with them. Awesome.

    A protestant pastor who has done 3 missions to Haiti discussed Pat Robertson’s odd comments with me during last weekend’s Walk for Life West Coast. While he too shared my sense of “what the???” he did say that Pat was taken out of context and that he had said many other positive things the media ignored. This Christ in the rubble made me think of all this Haiti stuff in a spiritual light…The pastor also shared with me that about 7 years ago, the Haitians declared voodoo their official religion (at this point, the Pastor just raised his eyebrows and looked at me as he was equally puzzled by that and the quake). Now, I’d not heard of that declaration and wondered if any of you had. Many of you are great web crawlers and have search talents and capabilities far beyond mine. I’d be curious to know.

    Again, the way Christ seems to be unscathed in that pile of destruction really brought this topic back to mind. I’ve been pondering it since the quake.

    I’m from quake country, so, no, I’m not looking to point fingers folks (I’m aware of things seismic/geological), just feeling that there is something almost (or totally) biblical going on here.

    I’m so glad you keep reminding us of Haiti, Anchoress. I am sad to see its slipped the media’s main focus so soon. I love your toy-lift idea. I’ll ask St. Nicholas to help you get that off the ground (I’m currently reading a huge book about him and he LOVES children!!!).

  • grace
  • Stefanie

    I saw that photo elsewhere and am going to use it as a focus image (icon!) for the 12th Station of the Cross. I do an inter-active one for the public school kids in religious education — the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th graders during Lent.
    He is always there with us…the suffering Christ, our King.

  • Elizabeth

    Here’s an organization that helps children:


    They’re very good about making sure the money goes to the children vs. admin. costs.

    They are always available for any questions.

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  • Mary

    Anchoress, Thanks for the wallpaper idea. I now have the little guy in the striped t-shirt smiling at me when I start working. I do love his pudgy cheeks, happy grin, and folded hands, (what a little ham!) and I’d love to send him some little shorts, too. But it’d have to be a StL Cardinals cap!!!

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