stand haitiPartners 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.

8 comments to Haiti

  • I can understand the depth of your compassion for the Haitians having heard of their quick actions when you needed help. I know that you’re wishing you could do more to help the people of Haiti and knowing your heart, you’re doing your best. As you said, money and prayers are a good start. Thirteen operating rooms is another great step in the right direction!

  • Nancy

    It definitely is a good step. I wish we could and would do more though.

  • I’m sending my money and prays.
    What a great memory and proof that chivalry is not dead. Thank you for sharing.

  • Your story is a vivid reminder that money and success do not build character. Character comes from within and the actions of those who came to help in your time of need exemplify the best of human nature.
    This is an inspiring story. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

  • Nancy

    I just learned that the son of some old friends in Boston has gone to Haiti as part of the Partners in Health team to build a tent hospital.

  • We have people rallying at work too. During Katrina UC offered a weeks vacation and travel expenses to anyone that had the skills needed and wanted to go to New Orleans to help out.
    I don’t think they’ll be able to do that now with the economy but the students and staff will always find a way to help.
    My husband’s boss is collecting shoes to send over too. I guess every little bit helps.

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