Landing in Haiti, we were greeted with a relatively orderly experience through immigration and customs – but upon exiting the building, it was clear we were in a new world. We were surrounded by people – many trying to carry our bags for us – even grabbing on and not letting go – all in an attempt to make their living – which you certainly can’t fault them for.
Once we met our team contact and got in our truck, we were greeted by nothing short of shocking imagery. Right outside the airport, people are living in tiny structures smaller than most self storage units, made from scrap tarps, wood and metal. In places, there must have been groups of over 200 of these homes, side by side and several deep for the better part of a mile. Trash and rubble are still all over the place – the aroma at times was pretty assaulting. People live in conditions that are heartbreaking (like the photo below).
But even in this desolate environment, I was in awe by the joy of the Haitian people. It would be an oversimplification to say that everything is joyful here, because its not, but for my middle class eyes, the joy these people display is amazing. Like the photo at the top of the post (and several of the images in the gallery below), the Haitian people as a whole have learned a profound truth – possessions do not equal happiness, nor does poverty equal despair. This is especially true among the people who are being served and loved by the church here in Haiti. It’s a lesson I, and I believe our Americanized culture as a whole could learn much from.
Below are a collection of photos from our first day in Haiti. More coming tomorrow!