While the world got to see life in Haiti immediately after the earthquake, the media is not exposing the incomprehensible living conditions that our Haitian sisters and brothers Haitian have to cope with today. Two weeks ago I walked through one of 1,300 tent cities where over 1 million homeless people are trying to survive. Amidst the crying of babies, the smiles of children, and the overwhelming smells, over 25,000 people were huddled together under wall to wall shelters, some with tents, and many with sheets, blankets and cardboard held up by branches and crooked sticks. People were cooking over wood and charcoal; washing clothes and their bodies out of scarce buckets of water; children were playing along the pathways between the rows of dwellings; and many were seeking shelter from the 95 degree sun.
And then it began to rain hard. Within 30 minutes and without adequate toilet facilities, sewage flowed with mud down the pathways and through many of the make shift shelters.
I was in northern Haiti one week after the January 12th earthquake, and we felt the 6.1-magnitude earthquake in the village of Thibeau. St James Church has been twinned for 8 years with our sister church of St Ives, and although Thibeau suffered no direct damage, the area is experiencing an increase in refugees relocating from Port au Prince. Over the years, St. James parishioners have supported safe water programs; constructed a church, rectory, school and community center; and supported hundreds of children attending school in the area. It has been a spiritually rewarding experience for our church, and we are now challenged as to how best help with the refugee resettlement. Eastern Hills has recently made a generous contribution to expand the safe water program in Thibeau and we look forward to partnering with them and sharing the gift of getting to know and serve these the least of our sisters and brothers.