One of the most joyful occasions is church. On Sunday mornings and Thursday evenings, the villagers come together, dressed in their best clothes, to worship God. They worship with exuberant hearts and loud praises. They sing songs, clap their hands, dance, play instruments and shout “amen” in response to the pastor. I believe these jubilant events carry them through the difficult days from week to week. They truly love God and have placed their hope in Him. I’m thankful that they place their hope in Christ and confident that He will help them. I’m already looking for ways to help my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. They too are part of God’s great creation and deserve a life apart from struggle and poverty. May God bless them for the lessons they taught me. I am grateful.
I had the privilege of going to Thoman, Haiti last week and serving the precious people there. It’s taken me several days to process my thoughts and feelings. Amidst the beautiful mountains and scenic views live a people whose only hope and way out is in God. They live in poverty from day to day. I’ve been around poverty and served many impoverished people most of my life but this place was different. No running water. Kids walked miles (some with no shoes) to the river once or twice a day to get water for their families. It’s probably not the cleanest water–animals drink and bathe in the same river. Yet, it’s the only way they can keep from dying of thirst. A trip to the river also serves as a weekly bath and laundry station.
No government who cares about its people. There’s no assistance or subsidy programs. We were told most government officials are corrupt and have an evil heart. They don’t live among the people. They live in another country off the money from the poor. There’s no hope things will change soon.
There’s no free, public education so most kids don’t attend school. The public schools are not very good if the students by some chance can afford to go. Teachers sometimes don’t show up because they don’t always get paid. There are a few private schools which children attend if they are sponsored by someone–usually someone in the U. S. After graduation, only a few will attend college. Most will go back to their villages and continue in the cycle of poverty.
There is no money to exchange or jobs. It’s an agricultural society in the remote villages where families trade items with each other to survive. It’s truly a community of people trying to help each other stay alive. Their clothes are usually mismatched if they have any. It’s common to wear the same outfit for 3 or 4 days. Taking a daily bath or shower is a luxury they don’t have.
There is no health insurance and medical care is difficult to find. The Hope Center, where we served, has a clinic but can only see a certain number of patients each day. Many of them may have walked for miles and as many as 7 or 8 hours hoping to see the doctor. While we were there, one little boy who was probably 4 or 5 fell into a large kettle with boiling water. His arm was burned very badly. His family, as many of the families there, believe in voodoo and will go to the voodoo priest for help. The voodoo priest told the family to put feces and mud on the burn. Needless to say, the burn became infected and by the time the boy got to the Hope Center’s clinic weeks later, his arm was almost gone.
~Coletta Jones Patterson