by Fred Muffet
Mission USA team recently returned from a trip to Haiti. The devastating effects from the January earthquake still linger. The following are excerpts from Fred Muffet’s reflections on the trip.
Building projects and medical help
[The principal] told us that he lost many of his children due to the fact that some of them simply will not go into a concrete building [still fearful of the earthquake], and therefore no longer attended school. He also showed us that the wall which would be 4 feet high if we laid the 300 block would be much more safe for the kids if it was 6 feet high. The ladies on the trip would build the school benches.
We left Ohio with two nurses. Two more joined us in Miami. Assisting them were several of our team members. On Monday, they treated the school children. On Tuesday, they treated the children’s families, and neighbors. The line never ended all day long. They saw about 150 people, and treated them for everything from skin diseases, to malnutrition. Unfortunately, there were a couple of the children they saw, that they felt were not going to survive more than a few more days.
Hunger among children
Many of the children do not get enough to eat. One of the things we knew up front was that the school did not have enough money to feed the children more than once or twice a week. In Haiti there is no refrigeration. There is no fresh milk, and you cannot keep anything for long periods of time. Rice and beans are the main meal in Haiti. Dried fish or chicken is sometimes added. We bought a two-month supply of rice and beans, oil and fish for the school, as well as several bags of rice and beans for them. We also bought many bags of rice and beans and passed out smaller amounts to the children’s families and neighbors of the school. If we had left more food behind, it would have been subject to theft or rodents.
There are no ambulances, because there are few hospitals, and the ones that are there would be something you might expect to have been in the 1950s era. A trip to a Haiti hospital usually is followed by death within a few days. We had the sad experience of watching a Haitian family experience the death of a loved one. She was in her 40s and had a young child. The child will be put in an orphanage because there is no one to care for him, and the family had to deal with a burial.
What can I say that I already have not about Port Au Prince? There are hundreds of tent cities, with tens of thousands of people living in them. Almost no one has a job, no one has any money, few have food. There are laws, but no one to enforce them. The police are too busy for common problems, so theft is rampant. Sporadic gunfire is often heard. To get a shower, you find one of the relief agencies with a water supply, and strip in public for a quick wash. In less than a few minutes you are sweating profusely again.
Traffic in Port Au Prince is something your wildest imagination would not believe. Potholes are everywhere on the streets that are paved. Drivers avoiding the potholes go on the wrong side of the street, up on sidewalks, and traffic signals are ignored. Pedestrians are open season.
Haiti as God created it is beautiful. There are mountains, lush rainfalls, flowers, trees, and beach. Now let me describe it as closely as possible as it currently stands. Imagine this beautiful place turned into a landfill that accepts all type of waste including sewage and garbage, one the size of Cleveland. Now add heat, up to 100 degrees on a typical day. Next remove all water sources except what you can collect off the rooftops during a rain. Are you with me? OK, now add about 5 million people, and put them elbow-to-elbow. Subtract any type of government assistance such as police or fire protection. Add no jobs, no manufacturing and very little food. Each person must try to make a living scrapping something from the landfill to trade or sell for food. Finally, try if you can to imagine the earthquake. The buildings in Haiti were mostly concrete to protect them from nearly every hurricane that travels the Atlantic.
You do not have to change Haiti to make Jesus happy. You have to “love your neighbor” and serve him as you would yourself. We made an impact on the lives of hundreds of people on our trip, and for that reason I will always be thankful that we went. The Bible verse that became so very clear for me is the one that says if you so much as give a cold drink of water in my name, you will be blessed. You and I cannot imagine how much a cold drink of water means to someone that does not have clean water, and does not have ice, and does not have a glass to put it in!
Whether we return to Haiti or not will be decided by others. We definitely helped the lives of those children. We fed hundreds, and built a school. Yet, this is a grain of sand when compared to the problems facing Haiti. We could send teams there forever, and still have plenty to do. Be assured that future trips to Haiti, and wherever else a need is found, The Chapel and Mission USA will respond.