Partners in Health reported about 12 hours ago that 13 operating rooms are now up and running in their field operation site in Port-au-Prince. Thirteen!
When I lived in New England, I had the privilege of working with a literacy program that served many of Boston’s immigrant communities. I was, and still am, in awe of people who had so little material wealth, who sometimes worked 2 or 3 minimum wage jobs, and still made the time and energy commitment to learn a new language while adapting to a different culture and vastly different weather conditions. And somehow they managed to remain positive, gracious and upbeat despite the many challenges they faced.
That pretty much describes my notion of heroism. It also describes the people I met in Boston’s Haitian community. I went to work in their community center one day and, despite the snow everywhere, I somehow managed to find a parking spot on the street. Streets in Boston’s poorer communities are always the last to get plowed, if they get plowed at all.
Well, the street did get plowed — while I was inside the building. When I came out to the car, there was a two-foot high bank of snow between my car and the street. Even in my trusty Subaru, I wasn’t going anywhere.
I just stood there trying to figure out what to do. Within a minute or two, half a dozen Haitian men materialized from — where? I have no idea. They weren’t dressed for the weather, but with bare hands and plastic cups, they started to help me dig out. The snow was that hard icy snow that hurts your fingers, but they smiled, laughed, and kept digging until there was enough of a break that, with a couple of them pushing from behind, I was able to pull the car out onto the street.
I keep coming back to those hands digging in the snow and see them digging now through the rubble in Port-au-Prince. And wish there were some way, besides sending money and prayers, to help.
But money and prayers are a start.