West Tennessee Haiti Partnership

Allie’s story from April 2010 trip to Haiti

Our last day in Haiti was spent in Port-au-Prince. We started off driving through town, speechless from seeing what remained 4 months after the devastating quake hit. Our first stop was to see old friends from St. Vincents. One of the nurses, Michele was there to greet us. Eluvie, who previously worked in the kitchen at St. Vincents, was there as well. Seeing their faces, hugging them and knowing they were ok, was such an incredible feeling. It was also very emotional for me to see baby Margarette (who was left orphan at St. Vincents on our previous trip in December). She was so strong, so beautiful. Next we walked to what was left of St. Vincents. There are no words to describe what it feels like to look at a place you once stayed, once slept in, and see it completely destroyed, with bodies of children we knew and loved still buried beneath. There are no words, just great sadness.
But the day had to continue on. On our walk back, we stopped at a restaurant to eat and regroup. I sat there with Michele (our Haitian nurse), drinking a Prestige (the Haitian beer), and listening to Phil Collins “Another Day in Paradise” play. There was too much to take in.
With all of this being said, I’d have to say that the drive home was the most memorable part for me. I had 2 hours, standing, not sitting, in the back of a truck driving from Port-au-Prince to Montrious to absorb all that had happened that day. We had only been on the road for 5 minutes when we all turn our heads quickly to see something in the road, and then look at each other with mouths dropped to verify the object, a dead body laying in the street. Too much devastation, too much to absorb. But as the drive continues, and as I attempt to process through all that has happened, something in me shifts from despair to hope. I am standing in a truck with hair I have only washed in the ocean, dreaded and tangled, bug bites all over my face and body that one could easily play connect the dots, and not to mention that I smell of something aweful, but at that moment, I felt like a queen. Every place we passed, people where smiling, cheerful and waving at us, so happy to see us. You couldn’t help but smile and wave back. Its hard to explain, but theres something powerful about seeing these people, who have been struck over and over again with hardship, knocked down when you think it wasn’t possible to get any worse, still smiling & waving. I guess Abraham Lincoln was right, people are as happy as they make up their mind to be. The Haitians have a hope that inspires. Standing there driving for 2 hours past all kinds of devastation, its easy to be disheartened, but in the forefront of that picture, are beautiful people whose lives continue on, shopping in the markets, building, laughing, playing, singing and dancing. Because the Haitians know that this terrible quake will not stop them, that they will continue on, they will perservere, and they will be happy regardless of their circumstances. That was a moment that almost took my breath away, as I stood there in awe, so incredibly humbled by the hope of the Haitains.
                                                                                              Allie Russos

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