I think I underestimated how difficult reverse culture shock would be. This is not the first time I’ve traveled internationally. This is not the first time I’ve seen such dire conditions. Yet somehow this time seems different. I have glimpsed such enormous needs before and have ached at not being able to help at all or enough. And then time marches on and the need gets ignored somewhat, gets addressed somewhat, but it never goes away completely.
I’m home now and this town feels different. Winter has leaped ahead into spring, the birds are chirping, the wildflowers are in full bloom, time marches on in this sweet little town. It’s great to see friends, it’s nice to talk to family, it’s easy to be home in so many ways. Even the crummiest parts of town look well-kempt and secure. The grocery store and stores in general are overwhelming places to be, with too many choices. It’s hard to relate to legitimate (though first-world) problems people are facing here when I’ve just returned from a place where people may barely eat a meal a day if they’re lucky.
My thoughts are drifting between here and there–images of the hopeful, happy, proud people I met and interacted with keep lingering in my mind–Cesar, Father Tijwa, Sister Ann, Serge, the family across the street, Jenn and Amy of Second Mile Ministries, Treasa at CRUDEM, Julia, Julie, Manuela… How can I help? What more can I do?
I miss the team from Wenatchee, too, and I think I’m not alone in battling this re-entry phase. My inbox is peppered with quick photo swaps and check ins from Rotarians and medical crew alike, just checking in to say hi and to see how things are going. It’s great to have those shared memories and such an intense shared experience. I hope we stay connected, and I hope we can find ways to help together and individually.
This trip has been intense on every level and I will continue to process it. I promise to find a way to share photos at some point soon. There are so many more stories to tell! And so many ways to help! Just being there, caring about people, and listening to their ideas showed me how important that first step is. It’s remarkable how far a simple human connection can go despite language, cultural, class, religious, and racial differences.
I’m still figuring my own best actions out, and I’m already plotting my return trip. In the mean time, here are some links to places with more information and more ways to help if you are so inclined. I saw firsthand the work each of these organizations is doing and I wholly support these groups:
www.secondmilehaiti.com (These two young women are incredible visionaries and it is inspiring to listen to them. Be sure to check out their latest blog entry about a teenager with Type One Diabetes. One of our medical team members treated her and was instrumental in getting aid for her. Along with several women from our team, I enjoyed a very worthwhile shopping trip through town gathering clothes, food, and toiletries for this young woman.)
www.crudem.org (This remarkable organization has made Hopital Sacre Coeur in Milot the top medical facility in Haiti over the past 25 years. The immense generosity and teamwork displayed by visiting and local medical, support, and Catholic personnel is incredible.)
www.childrenofthepromise.org (This children’s home is run by two practically youngsters themselves! Nick and Nicki are young twenty-somethings from Washington who have sacrificed a lot to live in Haiti for the long haul. They have a clear vision and thanks to a lot of support have been able to achieve a lot.)