We landed in Haiti late Saturday afternoon and the ride from the aiport to the hotel about an hour away was more intense than I was even expecting. The roads are non-existent or completely shot, so our two-car caravan made its way through tents and rubble, passing rows of people sitting on the destroyed concrete, just a few feet from the tires of our SUVs. There were chickens in the road, and roosters chained to rocks. There were signs and grafitti everywhere, unstable structures climbing the beautiful green hills, the tops of which looked just how you imagined an island mountain to look.
I was unnerved a little bit. I thought we'd see poverty and hardship in the field, further out from Port Au Prince. I wasn't prepared for the needs to be so apparent just steps from the aiport. I prayed that in the next few days I would see the beauty of this country and not just the despair.
On Sunday morning we drove up the mountain to an area called Kenscoff to visit Pastor Jean Alix, a partner of Help One Now as he runs a church, orphanage, and school. In the simple church building, upon plain wood pews, I listened to the full congregation around us sing hymns in creole to a band of teenagers playing their drums and guitars.
There were families in the pews, a mom behind us with a little boy in his crooked clip-on tie. A daughter in front of us, eyes wide as she kept turning around to sneak looks at the foreigners in her church. There was a row of the boys from the orphanage, sitting quiet but figety. The heartfelt singing, unfamilar words but still a comfortable sound, I blinked back unexpected tears. I was ashamed that my first impression of Haiti had been fear.
One little boy in particular caught my eye. He looked to be about two, a few rows in front of us with his daddy. He had on jeans and purple socks and tiny little black dress shoes. He stood on the pew during the singing, angling for his father's attention until he picked him up and resumed his worship. Now in his arms, the little boy was facing backwards, facing us. He smiled shyly and then played peekaboo into the adult's white shirt. When he finally tired, he laid his little head down on his daddy's shoulder.
I stopped my swaying. Something about the gesture, the way he nestled the crown of his head into that paternal neck. It was so exactly how my son looks in the sleepy early morning when his dad lifts him out of the bed. And, though I didn't think I needed a tangible reminder, it shouted at me how we are all the same. Not a one of us born better, just luckier.
Humanity 101. I needed to see it.
I'm sharing as much as I can here and also on Instagram. Thank you so much for your supporting words, my friends. They've meant so much to me.
Photos by Scott Wade