From my time in Haiti 28 Feb-5 March:
Last week, the Archbishop of Cape Town, The Most Rev. Thabo Cecil Makgoba, and the Bishop Suffragan of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, The Rt. Rev. Pierre Whalon, arrived in Port au Prince for a four-day visit. The Archbishop was accompanied by the Provincial Executive Officer, the Rev. Canon Robert Butterworth. The South African trip was arranged by Dr. Imitiaz Sooliman, chair and founder of Gift of the Givers, the largest disaster relief organization of African origin on the African continent.
They had come to see for themselves, to offer help, and to report back to the world. They had come to offer support for Bishop Duracin and the people of Haiti. They had
come so that they could return to their respective homes to tell the story, to rally support for the people of Haiti, to make sure that Haiti does not slip off the front pages of people’s hearts and minds.
I only spent Thursday with the Archbishop, bishops, and Canon Robert; I had to fly back to the States on Friday. But those brief hours together were powerful. For the first time, these bishops were seeing – and smelling – life and death in Haiti. They arrived seven weeks and two days after the earthquake. They found our people still digging through the rubble for the victims. They walked in the muck that now is ever-present in Haiti, since the rains have begun and there is little to no sanitation in the Tent Cities. They stood next to the ruins of College St. Pierre and saw how three stories had collapsed into one.
The visitors received a personal tour of the College St. Pierre Tent City, where the inhabitants have organized themselves, setting up small committees to oversee life there daily. They met children who attend the impromptu school. They saw tarps that do not keep out the rain. They stepped in mud between the tents. They dodged the ropes that hold up shelters. They averted their eyes when people stepped outside to bathe in public.
Over and over again, they heard the story of the faithful people who have lost everything and yet share everything, who are working to take care of each other, so that together, the Kingdom can be rebuilt in Haiti.
The visitors stayed in Haiti for four days, seeing all that they could in that short time, participating in the blessing of Hôpital St. Croix in Leogane, seeing the almost total devastation in that area. They stayed in Montrouis, with the children of St. Vincent’s who have been moved there.
On Sunday, Bishop Pierre preached at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port au Prince, at the outdoor cathedral that has replaced the ruined historic landmark. He will be releasing his sermon in English soon.
Our visitors will be telling their own stories soon, and we look forward to hearing from them. It is critical that the story of the Haitian people be told, not just now but in the future as well. Our jobs, as we continue to live and move and have our being in Haiti and with the Haitians, is to never stop telling the story of the faith of the people, of the work of God among God’s beloved children.