Tag Archives: Haiti

Me and My Blessed Life

When I was younger my dad said to me a number of times, “Bria, you were born the right colour, in the right place, at the right time.” I never really knew what he meant, so I’d nod my head and smile as though I understood. Now, before you start ranting on about how that’s ‘whatever label or ist that you want to ascribe to it’, I believe he was trying to teach me to be thankful for my privileged/blessed lot in life, not to take my situation for granted and squander away my opportunities.

However, lately I’ve found it troubling. I’ve begun to understand what he tried to teach me so many years ago, but with greater understanding comes greater responsibility. These are the thoughts that have been plaguing my mind lately. Please don’t take them the wrong way.

I have blonde hair, blue eyes and white skin. I don’t know what it’s like to be a minority. I’ve never been a recipient of racism. I’ve  never been turned down for employment because of how I look or talk or because of where I come from. Yet I complain about my skin, my hairstyle and having to wear glasses (that are covered under my husbands benefits…I don’t even pay for the damn things).

I have my health and an able body, one that was blessed with growing three children. I don’t know the feeling of chronic pain. I’m a stranger to the long and lonely years of infertility. I don’t bear marks or scars of accidents or ailments. Yet I complain about having wide hips, about needing to lose 10 pounds, about a few stretch marks here or there and a saggy stretched-out tummy.

I have a house over my head, a kitchen full of food, a nice yard for the kids to play in and a car in my driveway (and a truck to tow our boat). I don’t know what it’s like to be homeless and I probably never will. I don’t know what it’s like to be truly hungry. Yet I complain about our renovations, about not having enough room, about our neighbourhood and I’m constantly think about moving to a ‘nicer’ place. I complain about not having anything to cook for dinner when my fridge, pantry and freezer are full.

I live in a province that is unbelievably abundant and beautiful in a country that is free. I don’t know what it’s like to be a refugee. I don’t know what it’s like to live in a place that is war-torn. Yet I complain about our harsh winters, our giant mosquitoes, our bad roads and our high taxes.

I have family who loves me, friends who care about me and a church community that supports me. I have money in my wallet and in the bank. I go on leisurely trips outside of the city to beaches and cottages and, on occasion, hotels. I don’t know what it’s like to not have a family. I don’t know what it’s like to not have friends. Yet I complain about the little things that irritate me with family, friends and church. I complain about not going on more grandiose trips to more exotic destinations.  I’m forever complaining about not having enough money.

I have a loving husband who has an amazing job and a secondary source of income. He treats me well and smothers me with affection everyday. He supports me in everything I do and loves that I stay home to take care of his kids. I have three beautiful children who are healthy and smart. They have things they need to work on, as we all do, but they are well behaved and love their parents and each other very much. They are free to go to school to learn and play with their friends, regardless of race or religion.

This is my privileged life. I don’t battle AIDS or famine or threats of war. I don’t fear widespread diseases or imprisonment because of my faith. Yet I complain and complain and complain. The things I battle are apathy, complacency and idleness.

Sometimes I just hang my head in shame over how blessed my life is and how ungrateful my heart is. I think back to those little outstretched hands poking through the fence in Haiti, begging me for a handful of rice and beans. What would they think of my life up here?

{Lord, teach me to be more like you.}

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Cholera Update.

Another update from Janelle:

We had 15 cholera patients in the hospital over the weekend. Here are a couple of stories of the people we are treating.

One woman came in to be treated by herself – her husband and children had already died of cholera earlier in the week so she is left with no family. Normally the family is responsible for feeding and caring for patients in Haitian hospitals – here she was able to find help. Please pray for her as she recovers and tries to begin her life again without her family.

A baby was brought in yesterday. He had just started to vomit and have diarrhea a half hour before and was already in shock. The mother was crying believing that he would die. It took about a half hour to get the IV in because his veins were already collapsed. This morning, he is alive.

We are learning that a lot of people are dying from cholera because many health professionals are not well educated about the disease and are afraid of contracting it. Also, in most hospitals, the patient must come with money to go buy their medication and IV’s before they are treated. Can you imagine trying to find the money to buy medication while you are vomiting and suffering from diarrhea?

Please continue to pray for strength for the clinic staff and for all those we are treating.

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Cholera in Limbe

This letter comes from Janelle, a girl from our church who is currently serving in Haiti. The clinic she’s talking about is the one that James and I went down to visit and help out with back in March. After having seen some of the conditions Haitians live in it’s not hard to imagine how fast something like cholera could spread through communities. The problem is that so many people use the rivers as their source of water even if it is infected. There is no other option. They can’t just walk down to the store and buy a bottle of clean water to drink. I can’t imagine.

***********

As I’m sure you all have heard, there is a cholera outbreak in Haiti. It originated in the Artobonite Valley, about 100 kms from here, about two weeks ago. They have reported over 400 deaths and several thousand infections. A week ago, we started hearing about cases in the north (where I am) and on Monday we had our first cholera patient being treated at the almost finished hospital at Ebenezer Clinic, and last night we had 5 patients staying to be treated. These patients are coming from Limbe, about 5 kms away where we believe cholera has infected the river where many people wash clothes, bathe and gather water.

Cholera is a waterborne disease that causes dehydration by vomiting and severe diarrhoea. If untreated, it can be fatal within hours. However, the treatment is very simple – rehydration through IV fluids and antibiotics

.The two hospitals in Limbe are full of cholera patients and so people are coming here once they’ve been turned away, or if they do not have the money to pay for treatment. We anticipate that the number of patients will only increase in the coming days.

How can you help? Please pray for the staff at Ebenezer Clinic who are serving above and beyond. Also, using the almost finished hospital as a treatment centre also means that the clinic will have extra expenses (running the generator almost 24 hours a day, buying extra medication, paying extra staff time). Most patients we are seeing will not be able to pay for their treatment. You can help offset these expenses by making a donation through the Evangelical Covenant Church of Canada. All donations are tax deductible and can be made online at www.CanadaHelps.org (please designate your gift to Haiti Clinic and write “Cholera” in the comment box) or by mailing a cheque with a note that your donation is for Cholera in Haiti to:

Evangelical Covenant Church of Canada PO Box 34025, RPO Fort Richmond Winnipeg, MB R3T 5T5

Thanks for your support!



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The Struggle.

This picture is the last of my favorites that I wanted to show you. We spent a day at the beach relaxing and enjoying some coastal  beauty that Haiti has to offer. James happened to sit down with some local fishermen and struck-up a conversation with them. All of them, including James, began pulling some rope in from a nearby boat. Everyone ended-up letting go and this guy decided to bring the rope out to the boat (which was a bit of a ways off shore). I snapped this picture before he got too deep and didn’t think much of it until I looked over my pictures later in the day. This is easily my favorite image from our time in Haiti. It seems to embody the hardship and struggle of everyday life the Haitian people face. At least that’s what I see in it.

It’s been roughly 3.5 months since James and I got back from our time in Haiti. Sometimes it feels like just yesterday and sometimes it feels like some murky distant memory. I find that I can’t rest my thoughts too long on our time there or I will get quite emotional. Some days I’m up for sifting through my emotions and other days it’s just too much. I miss Haiti and I hate that I can go days now where I don’t even think about the kids or the clinic. There are moments where I stop in my tracks and am shocked that it’s been a few days since I’ve pictured Joseph and his siblings, that I haven’t even prayed for them. I hate that it’s so easy to forget and go on living life as if I’d never ventured down there to see what I saw. It’s a struggle and I have yet to find some sort of  balance.

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Geico.

These little guys were everywhere. It made me think back to my childhood vacations in Mexico and the British Virgin Islands when my brother, sister and I would chase gecko’s around all day collecting their tails. Gross, but tons of fun when your 7 years old. I chased a few in Haiti but didn’t catch any (and probably looks horribly silly doing it). I suppose after 20 years I’ve gotten a tad rusty with my gecko catching skills.

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Coca-Cola.

We drank a lot of Coca-Cola while we were in Haiti. It comes in really tall glass bottles and is the only cold drink we had while we were there (well, we also had some Sprite). I looked forward to taking a break from the heat and cracking open the cool fizzy drink. There was always a stocked cooler in the hallway where the guys were working. It was kinda odd to be able to have a cold Coke but unable to have cold drinking water…but things are a bit different down there.

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Quiet street.

As we were driving through Cap Haitien I was trying to capture some of the hustle and bustle of the crowded city. I snapped a few pictures from inside our van as we passed some side streets only to realize that they were the quietest streets that I saw during my stay. O-well. I still really liked this one. I love the writing on the wall and the little girl’s bright blue dress.

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