“Helping, one family at a time, one person at a time.” —Guy Lepage
Last summer my friend, Guy Lepage, went to Haiti as a volunteer with the Canadian Red Cross. His stories brought me a lesson in how to have hope in the midst of overwhelming devastation.
He travelled to parts of the country that few non-Haitians see, for Haiti is not a tourist destination. There he found a nature-made tropical paradise lost beneath layers of the devastating effects of human-made pollution, poverty and corruption.
And an earthquake.
Poor grade cement, mixed with salt water, disintegrated with the impact. Public buildings—schools and hospitals—built out of cement with little or no rebar crumbled.
While he was there, Guy watched proud and determined Haitians rebuilding. They used the same poor grade cement mixed with salt water, and they used little or no rebar. If an earthquake happens again, the results will be the same.
The country lacks infrastructure on almost every level. There are no landfills, so garbage builds up in “garbage banks” reminiscent of our Canadian snow banks.
Contaminated water. No sewage treatment. Homelessness. Political Instability. Cholera. Haiti swirls in a vortex of misfortune.
What to do? It feels like trying to move a mountain using only a teaspoon.
“You do what you can,” Guy says.
And this building owned by a school in Jacmel now houses five families. The Canadian Red Cross approved funding for tin, nails, hammers and ladders so that Red Cross volunteers could replace the roof.
I guess we have to remember to ask the right question.
Don’t ask: How can we possibly move that mountain? Instead ask: Where should I start digging?
Canadian Red Cross mission: improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity in Canada and around the world.