Ever since Columbus set foot on the island of Hispaniola in 1492, the land has been witness to a constant barrage of atrocities. The Spaniards were the first to exploit the wealth of the land, mining for gold. The infectious diseases they brought with them (along with ill-treatment, malnutrition, and societal disruption) caused almost total annihilation of the native Taino people and black slaves were brought in for labour.
The western half of the island (now Haiti) became a haven for pirates and was settled by French buccaneers. Hostilities between the French and Spanish were eventually reconciled in 1697, the French taking the western third of the island and the Spanish taking the rest. Saint-Domingue, as it was then called, was very prosperous under French rule, producing sugar, coffee, and indigo. It was also known as one of the most brutally efficient slave colonies.
A hundred years later, inspired by the French Revolution (and with dreadful irony) the slaves revolted and Haiti's history became even messier. Despot after despot ruled the country, corruption became a way of life, and human life became the cheapest currency. The fertile land became despoiled of its richness as the poor masses cut down the forests for fuel, causing desertification of 98% of its original forest cover.
Other nations, such as the USA and France, have dabbled in the political arena to no apparent good. For two hundred years, the land of Haiti has known no relief from coups, oppression, corruption, and natural disaster. Last year was the worst year in a long run of very bad years.
In spite of Jeff's covertly (and not-so-covertly) dour looks;
in spite of my Bishop's cheerful warnings about the dangers in Haiti and the Dominican Republic;
in spite of dear Lori's frantic pleas every time the subject is raised (Don't do it Sue, don't do it, it's dangerous over there, you'll be killed!);
in spite of Jon's strict admonition You should not go to Haiti...
...I am going.
Plans are coming together. All my plane tickets are purchased, although I'm a tad concerned about that 30 minute plane change at Chicago Midway. A young lady who also lives in Oregon is going to be traveling with us. I suggest taking a gander at her website; she is quite the girl. I wish I had been as focused about my purpose in life when I was eighteen. Makes me feel a bit late to the party.
Friends at church have been donating supplies for me to take to the birth clinic. I plan to take a suitcase full of supplies and a carry-on for my clothes and shoes. My new push is for powdered formula for the malnourished babies at the orphanage nearby. They are fed on beans and rice twice a day. It makes my heart hurt to compare them to all of our babies who are so full of mother's milk and good food and will probably never go hungry a day in their lives.
If you are interested in the birth clinic and their vision, go here to see their website. I just reread Desiree's blog post that she wrote as she was leaving Haiti last March and it made me cry.
I fully expect this experience to be life-changing.
I hope it is in a good way.
I hope that I will want to go back and stay longer.
I hope that when I return my preoccupation is not unbearable to my friends and family.
I hope that someone will be lifted because of my efforts.
I hope that some day mothers in Haiti will not have to live in constant fear for their children's lives.
And I hope that you, my friends, will follow my exploits and pray for me, my friends, and the people of Haiti.