Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thoughts Twenty One Days Later

I've witnessed a metamorphosis here since arriving here 21 days ago. Then, the words I could use to describe what I saw was a whole city in shock, walking around like zombies, walking wounded. Blank stares. Hollow eyes, caked with mud, now dry from an inability to produce more tears. A survival mentality had set in - each one for themselves. Walk right past someone trapped, because they needed to get home to find their own loved ones.

Today, car horns blare from 4:00am on late into the night. The continual roar of traffic, occasional squealing of tires, movement everywhere. Life is returning to Port-au-Prince. It started like a drip - in dire need of food and water, street vendors started setting up shop - hawking anything and everything. Fruits and vegetables started appearing. Clothes, used and new - recovered from the rubble of someone else's house - who knows - now hand on clothes hangers covering a filthy crumbling wall like royal curtains. Mountains of shoes have also made it to the street vendors. Even seen a place where you could buy just one shoe! Not sure why, either they had a niche for those that could only find one of their shoes. Or more morbid, selling shoes to all those who lost limbs because of this tragedy.
Fuel supplies stabilized, so that there were no longer block long lines at the pump hoping to get a few gallons of diesel. Shortly there after, the money transfer companies started forwarding money from loved ones outside of Haiti to their loved ones who were going on week two of no banking system, no ATM, no electricity, no water, no grocery stores, no bed to sleep on - only the hard pavement of the road in front of their house. Lines circled around corner for the hundreds that desperately needed cash.

After a governmental decree, banks started opening their doors - well not throwing them open, but just a crack. The armed guards at the door let one customer in at a time. Still, there is no electricity in Port-au-Prince. In the last few days a couple restaurants have opened. Very few shops are open, but some just now getting back into business. Food is still hard to come by, with huge crowds crushing to get anything possible. It takes military escorts to get a food distribution done without disturbances or getting your truck emptied en route. The medical emergency continues - as seen by this "ambulance" (medical team unknown) to the airport to be med evac. Digging out will take months.
Life is springing forth from devastation. This banana plant demonstrates the resilience of the Haitian people.
The biggest prayer from people in Port-au-Prince is that it does not rain! Living in the streets, with most not having even a tent will be horrible if it rains. Sprawling tent cities will become mud holes if it rains. It is estimated that there is only 1 porta potty for every 2,000 people in the camp. Rain will bring serious health issues.

The metamorphosis is not yet complete. But three weeks ago, this mother lived through the worst natural disaster Haiti has experienced. She was just a few miles from the epicenter. This photo taken today, shows resilience - hope!
Keep praying for the Haitian people during these extremely difficult times!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Random Images

My incredibly supportive and wonderful wife always says she wants to see photos of me while I am in Haiti. So here are some random photos - no rhyme or reason - just to give you a glimps of what life is like here.

Walking aroung Port-au-Prince these days you see heart breaking, gut wrenching scenes of pain, desparation, and hopelessness. But,

You also see beauty,

Proud mamas,
Joyful kids,

Hopeful, aspiring stars, (Casting for Haitian remake of Titanic?)

And, passionate pastors!

Awsome accomodations at the Haiti Hilton - with complimentary early morning wake up calls (rooster), jet tub (broken water pipe flooding a tent), aromatherapy (burning plastic next door), and orthopedic beds (concrete parking lot).

Bob acting weird.

Medical team from USA & Haiti after a long day treating patients in Leogane, an area where over 90% of the buildings were destroyed.
Bob on tarmac at PaP airport with US Airforce C-17 in background. Bob still acting weird!

US Navy hospital ship Comfort in PaP harbor. Tent city of displaced people.