By Rob Beckham
What now? I am home, and circumstances pressed me to leave.
But, there are still hundreds of thousands of people in makeshift tents made from sheets and blankets. There are children with no arms or parents.
Haiti is an epic disaster. There are heroes, villains, and victims everywhere. It is truly off the scale. A sense of helplessness envelops you when you come home.
Words from people here at home sometimes cut into me. Someone says, "They are over populated. They need birth control." Someone else says, "They should ship 500,000 to Africa." Another person says, "It is God’s way of punishing them."
The faces in my mind are the 11-year-old girls of Soleil that don’t know what the color pink is much less what birth control is. They are doomed to be raped because of where they are born.
I flash back to a new friend of mine, Paul Haggis, as we were in the back of a truck. People pressing us everywhere, Paul’s anger and compassion wells up and he yells, “They don’t … deserve this!” I’m with you Paul. They don’t deserve this.
Last Sunday, I walked up to a church service in the mist of the rubble. Pieces of rusted sheet metal flapped in the breeze. The pastor rushed from the front to get me. Grabbing me by the hand he pulled me to the front. I stared at blank faces. What should I say? I murmured, "We have come to help. We will do what we can." Mike (Bonderer) asked the Pastor to pray. The small congregation raised their arms and repeated the words of their old leader praying for God’s mercy. A tear ran down my face.
What I see is utterly human failure. During a small aftershock last week I watched a couple of donkeys in a field. They spooked slightly, and then returned to eating grass as if to say, "Whoa, that was different." Then raising their heads chewing on the grass, they looked around and thought, "Hum, it seems busier today. I wonder why?"
The earthquake barely affected the donkeys. The destruction was in the structures man had built. We should strive to never let it happen again. The magnitude of the problem seems, well, we just can’t over come it. There are a million people without homes! It is going to rain any day.
But, we have to try. As humans we must do better.
I have several groups asking me to return. I don’t know when or with whom yet, but I have to go back. To know what is happening and to turn my head and ignore Haiti is wrong. I can’t comfortably lie on my goose down pillows at night and close my eyes knowing what is taking place just 700 miles off the coast of the United States.
For other details on The Fuller Center’s recovery effort in Haiti and how to help, visit our Haiti page.