Friday, March 19, 2010

I Call Them My Heroes

This was going to be a tough entry to write. All week long I've been going over in my mind "All the things that I hate about Haiti". Corrupt government. Self serving NGO's. Horrible roads. Preteen prostitution. Men having to defecate in holes in the sidewalk on crowded streets. Children having to clean themselves by dragging their bottoms through the grass - Worms. Starvation. Persistent begging (I would too if my children and wife were starving). The vultures that use the young girls. Absurdly rough roads. Raw sewage running through the streets. Garbage everywhere you look. Haitians accepting the way their government treats them. The total lack of cooperation amongst the Haitians, and the list could go on. It has been a reality week for me. In the initial time here I saw all these things on the periphery, but the stark reality never really hit home until this week for some reason. As the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, Haiti is no mecca by any stretch of the imagination. With between 80 and 90 percent unemployment, the sheer level of poverty here can be overwhelming.

A young man that I have been blessed with as a translator since my first trip here sums it up well. When describing a "wealthy" friend of his; he says "that one eats meat every day". As Americans we can't begin to fathom the desperate lives of resignation that the Haitian people lead. A single mother can survive with her two children for a week with half a loaf of bread. Old men and women - and young men and women - often go 3 or 4 days and longer with no food at all. Coming from a country where wealth is defined by how many thousand square feet our house is, or how many hundreds of thousands of dollars we make. To hear wealth defined as "that one eats meat every day" is very eye opening. A lot of my frustration this week has come from hearing how the government here pockets so much of the aid money intended to help alleviate these problems. Food For the Poor and World Vision are the only two major charities really sending food, aid, and medicine here. Perhaps worst of all is seeing how some of the Haitians and others use the aid sent to line their own pockets at the expense of the people here that really need the help.

Part of this is righteous indignation, I think part of it is Satan causing me to take my eye off of the goals here. My friend Dana Davis sends out a weekly email of encouragement. Today's was about me and some other missionaries and how easy it is to get discouraged! Has God ever slapped you upside the head? Dana's email served that purpose for me in reminding me what my work is really all about; and more importantly that it isn't about me at all. I've gotten so caught up this week in what frustrates me about Haiti that I have lost sight of what God has me here for. Some of what I'm here for is to help with the very things that have been frustrating me.

I am begging for your prayers that I daily remember to turn this frustration and indignation into motivators that will push me on in my work.

I have been working on our operating room a lot this week. With no team here it has been easy to get a nice pre-op area set up, a minor procedure room set up, a sterilization area established, and (the Nebraska docs will cheer) the A/C in the OR repaired. There is still much to do, but these measures will help improve the efficiency of visiting surgical teams immeasurably, allowing us to serve many more patients than we were previously able to. I have also been very busy distributing medical supplies to other hospitals and clinics in the area. The best part of the week has been spent working with the Ministry of Health in starting to develop a 911 system for the area ambulances. This will make such a huge impact on getting injured and sick to care in a timely manner - It is impossible to estimate the number of lives that will be saved.

One of the most interesting parts of my week was being able to spend a day with a Vodun priest and hearing his take on life in Haiti in general. To watch this 65 + year old man shake his head and exclaim "every time I open my eyes and look around I say, 'my God what has happened to my Haiti?'". His most lasting comment for me came as we walked past a school. He pointed out some young men attending primary school and said, "you see 25 year old men in 3rd grade here. Many call them idiots; I call them my heroes". Life gains a new perspective in Haiti. Whether it is in the admiration of one that eats meat every day, or for men in their twenties attending grade school in an effort to change their lives, you can't help but develop a stronger appreciation for God and His creation while working here.

Grace and peace,


  1. Hello Randy...I am so proud of you and the work that you are doing. I was just thinking about you literally this morning and commiting to send you some support money for your selfless and expert work...of course, I have my own ministry, but I want to support you as well! love and prayers, dr. vivian lamphear

  2. Randy, you are an inspiration. Thank you for all that you are doing. You are in my prayers & in the prayers of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration,La Crosse,WI
    ruthmary...Dante's grandma...chuck's mom

  3. Randy, it is people like you who help me continue to believe in the goodness of the human race. Keep up the good work. You are often in my thoughts and prayers. I can not make ravioli without thinking of you. Betty Manfre