Reflections from Margaret’s Recent Trip to Haiti
Posted May 7th, 2012
I have just returned from Port-au-Prince where I spent time with our Haitian partners, with children at the food program, with some of the students we sponsor, and at the after-school program. It was such a gift to be there. To see your donations in action, to envision the possibilities with our partners, to communicate your love and concern – this was a great joy and privilege. With every plate of food I passed out and with every student I talked to, I thought of you, because without your support, these essential programs would not exist.
Between 800 – 1,000 girls and boys, as well as some older youth and adults, came to the food program each day I was there. Many are still living in tents. Some are sleeping wherever they find shelter. All were hungry and grateful for the nutritious meals they received. I could see it in their eyes. I felt it as they ate.
I was there as the rainy season began in Haiti. The pouring rain makes everything a challenge. The cooking team continues to work out of a temporary, open-sided kitchen on the back of a cook’s home, and meals are served under a temporary structure that is not very different than a big tent. Through the creativity and determination of our partners, the system is working. As I helped pass out plates of food to the children, the wind blew and water leaked through the tarps and onto all of us. Yet, I knew we were being held in God’s hands.
One of the purposes of this trip was to create a video to help with fund-raising for the programs and for our building project. A wonderful volunteer video crew from San Francisco traveled with me. We videotaped the programs and interviewed our Haitian partners, the children, and other community members. There is excitement about the future of the programs, the new kitchen/cafeteria and school we plan to build, and the powerful difference all of this will make in the lives of the children. I look forward to sharing the video and the building project plans with you this summer.
Now that I am back from Haiti, back in my home in Berkeley, I’m finding my “re-entry” transition unsettling. I think about the children I met (including a two-week old baby), and the tent communities where many of them live. I think about the rain and the cholera epidemic; about the absence of running water and electricity; about the social, political, and economic injustices that have created this situation. And as these thoughts arise, I remind myself of what we’ve been able to accomplish over the years, little by little, and the fact that hundreds of children in one neighborhood of Port-au-Prince are able to count on one meal every weekday, thanks to your prayers, your encouragement, and your ongoing donations.
My visit has made me all the more inspired to make our vision for building on the land we have purchased a reality, so that there is a permanent and safe home for the programs, and so that more impoverished children will have the opportunity to go to school.
And so, as I reflect on where we’ve been and where we’re headed, I keep reminding myself of Fr. Gerry Jean-Juste’s words to me over ten years ago. They give me strength and hope. “We have a Creole saying I want to teach you,” he said. “Piti piti na rive. That means little by little we will arrive. One step at a time, Margaret. In Haiti, sometimes they are very, very small steps. Sometimes we go backward. But it’s important to keep taking steps, even though they are small. Never lose hope. Never give up. One day, maybe not during my lifetime, but one day we will get there.”
Margaret Trost, Founder, What If? Foundation