Aftershock; Haiti, Hardship, Help & Hope

After Shock

I wrote recently again about the neverending suffering of Haiti, and the remarkable resiliency of the people and the children who live in conditions unimaginable to the rest of us:

The question is always “what can we do?” and the answer always feels a little hopeless; yes, by all means, we can and should send help to relief agencies. We should keep the people of Haiti, especially the children, in our prayers. Reading stories like this, what can we do but keep them humbly in our prayers, when their nightmare simply does not end?

An Amnesty report laid bare horrific accounts of rape in Haiti’s squalid refugee camps a year after a devastating quake left many struggling to rebuild their shattered lives.

They are women like Guerline, who two months after losing her husband when their home crumbled to the ground in the devastating quake, had to watch as her teenage daughter was raped in a makeshift tarpaulin camp in Port-au-Prince. “Four men raped her. She is 13 years old,” Guerline told Amnesty International researchers, who compiled the report, published Wednesday, after interviewing more than 50 women and girls in Haiti’s post-quake camps.

“They told me that if I talked about it, they would kill me. They said that if I went to the police, they would shoot me dead. . . .Guerline was raped on the same night as her daughter by hooded men in the tent city. She can’t get the events of that terrible night out of her head.

I read this and look at the beautiful faces of the people, and think, only prayer and fasting can help, and what sacrifices we can make.

Mother Teresa famously said that we are not always called to do great things, but everyday we are called to do small things with great love.

Here is a small thing that can be done. Over at Patheos, the Book Club is looking at and discussing Kent Annan’s After Shock: Searching for Honest Faith When Your World Is Shaken. Jamie Arpin-Ricci writes:

Kent Annan, co-director of Haiti Partners, a nonprofit focused on education in Haiti, has worked in Haiti since 2003, living there some of the time before moving back to the U.S., now traveling there regularly from Florida. Less than two weeks after the publication of his first book about his work in Haiti, Following Jesus through the Eye of the Needle: Living Fully, Loving Dangerously (IVPress, 2009), that already impoverished nation experienced the historic earthquake that left more than 200,000 dead and millions homeless. After Shock invites us to experience the aftermath of those events on the lives and faith of those left behind:

Faith can seem certain. A sense of peace or clarity, the mysterious beauty of life, or the transformations seen in yourself, in someone else, in a community—it couldn’t be other than God. But there are also shocks to the system when God seems either absent or negligent. Do we ignore these shocks and their aftershocks? Sometimes a crisis of faith happens in an instant; other times it’s a drift into uncertainty. Welcome confirmations of faith. And just as important, pay attention to the crises of doubt or unanswered questions. Honest faith doesn’t deny God, but it doesn’t deny the uncertain and painful reality of life either. (from After Shock)

Buy After Shock; it is an inexpensive book that will both inform the heart and mind, and feed the spirit, and 100% of the proceeds from its sale will go to Haiti Partners.

It is a small way to help the suffering people of Haiti; if we do these small things with great love, things will change. I believe that.

You can read an interview with Annan, here.

We’re looking at videos too.

New Beginnings are Hard to Come By

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Mandy P.

    I think the most discouraging thing with Haiti and the relief effort is how corrupt their government is. Even before the disaster they received boatloads of foreign aid and very little of it actually made it’s way down to the people. The only thing I know to do is give to reputable organizations that will get the aid to the people and to pray, pray, pray.

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  • zmama

    Thank you for this Anchoress. Last year before our daughter’s 8th birthday I found out about a group in the city of Jacmel that works to keep impoverished children off the streets by teaching them traditional Haitian painting and art. The group is called Art Creation Foundation For Children click here. After talking it over with my daughter we held a “cupcakes and crafts” birthday party at home for her . In lieu of gifts we asked each of her friends to donate new art supplies for the children at ACFFC. I was able to ship 2 large boxes to the woman who coordinates the program, Judy Hofman, who is located in Miami. Along with the supplies we sent a cd with photos taken at the party as well as a short video message our daughter and her friends made for the children in Jacmel. We later learned from Judy that the children watched the video over and over and Judy designated one of the little girls in the program as a special friend for our daughter. Before Christmas my daughter had fun going out with me and shopping for some gifts for her Haitian friend and I found some items to send for the other children to share. I do not write this to toot my own horn, but to say that there are ways to help and remain connected to the people in Haiti in these days of the 24 hour news cycle when we tend to forget these enormous tragedies and go on with our usual lives after just a few weeks. Mandy rightly mentioned the govt. corruption and I think many of us feel frustrated when these events take place that the money we send for relief efforts will end up lining some govt. official’s pockets rather than get to the people in need. It has been immensely rewarding to know the items we sent to the children actually reached them and in addition we now have made a personal connection with some of the people there. I’m sure there are many other similar programs there. For me to discover ACFFC it took just a quick google search researching “art supplies for Haitian children”, I’m sure it was inspired by the Holy Spirit for something put the idea in my head last winter to look for a program that did just what ACFFC is doing. On our living room wall is a beautiful papier mache nativity scene made by the children in Jacmel and picked out for our daughter by her Haitian friend. When we sent the gifts we never expected to receive anything in return but this has turned out to be our family’s most treasured Christmas gift and a reminder of the beautiful children in Haiti. I shared with Judy how good it was for my daughter to have this experience of giving gifts to children who are truly in need to help her make the transition from believing to being Santa Claus/St. Nicholas for others. Judy in turn blew me away when she shared that the children at ACFFC took money they had earned from selling their artwork and went out with her when she visited in December to buy presents for children in an orphanage there who otherwise would not have received gifts from Petite Pere Noel, their version of Santa. It makes me cry even as I write this to think about these children who then told Judy they wanted to give up their own Christmas party and instead give a party for the younger children in the orphanage. The children at ACFFC later did have their own celebration but that is the most beautiful expression of the spirit of Christmas giving I have ever heard. Sorry this response is so long but I thought you might like this too.

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