Like many other Americans, I will participate in a wonderful, joyous Thanksgiving dinner, satiated by delicious food and sumptuous wine surrounded by amazing friends. I will take a moment to thank for all that has been granted to be in my life.
I will also reflect upon the past thanksgivings that have left a significant impression on my life, particularly, the Thanksgiving in 2010 where I spent a week in Haiti.
It was my third trip down to Haiti after the earthquake had rattled the country in January, 2010. So I felt pretty secure with the situation that I was about to enter. But, this particular trip had a profound impact on me: I found myself with 30 other strangers, who had also chosen to volunteer their time during the Thanksgiving holiday. We were all cramped in an abandoned house with 1 bathroom on a hilltop that looked over Petionville, a neighborhood adjacent to Haiti’s capital, Port Au Prince. The Cholera epidemic had just hit this already ravaged country and the Haitians were still living in the tent cities. The much-anticipated heated presidential race was in full effect and the country seemed to be divided into two camps: One for the beloved but corrupt former musician, Michel Martelly aka, “Sweet Mickie” and the other camp for Haiti’s first lady (Feb 1988-June 1988) Mirlande Manigat. And, people from around the world were starting to forget about this tiny little country.
It is hard to not feel overwhelmed by the horrendous living conditions under which these Haitians have to endure. It is even harder to imagine how these people could even tolerate another day of life after so many years of corruption, poverty, and despair. And when I have told people that I have visited Haiti, many of them have asked me, ”Does Haiti have ANY hope?”
And while I may have answered, “Nope” at moments on my 3rd journey down there over the Thanksgiving holiday in 2010, I would like to change my answer and say, “Yup.”
Above is a photo that I had taken as I was walking through the tent city on Thanksgiving Day. I believe that this photo exemplifies Haiti’s next generation’s willingness to learn, to achieve, and to establish their futures that will entail joy, good health, prosperity and everything else of which their families have been deprived.
So, as I am about to sit down and enjoy one of the finest meals of the year, I will take a moment and be mindful of the children whom I encountered in Haiti and send them my love, light, and gratitude.