April 2010 Newsletter
Donald Douglas DeHart
Legacy of serving Haiti began
the winter of 1968-69.
While perusing the USAID packet sent shortly after the January 12 earthquake there were things in there that would have been funny had they not been so sad…
People are generous to a fault at times. They want to give but don't stop to think first. Any example of this is the number of indignant calls we have received saying “I gather all this food and clothing and the Red Cross only wants money.” … Oops, how do I handle this one since my own preferred reply is exactly the same? Oh there are exceptions, the lovely new clothing made by church ladies, the ditty bags of hygiene items, school supplies and sewing kits; there are medical supplies and things on our needs list… just not the garage and closet cleaning items that will cost us $1.50 a pound to get down….
Without losing someone who is genuinely interested in helping Haiti, possibly for the first time ever… how do you redirect that aid thought? One of the USAID examples was an article from The Wall Street Journal entitled “Sri Lanka Is Grateful, But What to Do With the Ski Parkas?”
Some food is not exactly better than no food if it is not within the cultural acceptance. If you are a starving vegetarian you are not happy with a plate of beef, for example. Even if not a vegetarian, if you aren’t used to it would be you delighted or hungry enough to dig into a dish of blood pudding (brains)? Would you be as delighted as a Haitian to realize you just bit down on the bullet that killed the pig? They consider it good luck. You would be calling your lawyer.
We received a generous gift of canned beans. Roseline was handing them out, people were thanking her and then asking for beans… she explained that the cans were full of beans that were cooked, a good thing, they use less charcoal. They were happy but who knows what would really have happened to those cans had she not been handing them out to explain what was inside.
Unless you have a good feel for the culture, unless you know someone in Haiti who will distribute your “stuff” to the needy and unless you are prepared to pay the cargo costs of getting it there… your best way to help is C A S H (sorry). And even then… make sure it is a reliable charity with experienced staff in the country or you still don’t know where it will go—as Don always said, “you cannot just send anything to Haiti and know it will reach the poor.”
ANOTHER’S VIEW OF HAITI
I was reading a blog yesterday and asked Randy if I could quote him, his emotions, his frustrations are shared by all who work in Haiti. Following is from a nurse working in Haiti:
“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. 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. 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
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. There are very few 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,
In reading Randy’s blog it hit home about how your focus on God and His desires make all the difference, why am I here? What does He want me to be doing. Then you watched Randy’s attitude change from negative to positive, from looking at all the faults and troubles to admiring the strengths and approaches to challenges.
The tremors have not stopped, the rains are coming and more destruction of the landscape… how much can this little country take? But their endurance and faith are to be admired. As Anderson Cooper of CNN walked through thousands of people praising God just to be alive… he observed the lack of need for security… there was truly a 3-day revival … could you openly praise and thank God under their circumstances?
This is an example of the “roads’ Randy mentioned. Actually this is one of the better streets, it takes you from Cap downtown to the Airport… you quite literally drive into potholes in Haiti and most of the time need 4-wheel drive to get back out and hopefully have diesel so you don’t worry about flooding out.
As I write there were more reported tremors last night. Talk of a landslide in Labadee could delay the relief aid Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines have been delivering. Each new day brings its joys and its challenges but we keep our focus on doing God’s work and remembering, as Randy put it, why we are there.
Our promise is to be the best stewards possible with the help entrusted to us. The needs are ever increasing so may God Bless you and keep please helping… Eva
Suzelle & Dr Pierre Conze
In Memory of our niece MARIE LYNNE BOUTE TELUSMA
In Memory of CHUCK QUENZLER
In Memory of SHIRLEY FITZGERALD
In Memory of MAYNE ALLEN
In Memory of MILDRED MacNAMEE
In Memory of ALICE POPP
Eva, Linda and Roseline
In Memory of DON DeHART (4-15-2006)
In Honor of LUIS GARCIA-RIVERA 40th Birthday
Honoring our RISEN LORD
Gifts to For Haiti with Love are deductible as charitable contributions. For Haiti with Love, inc. is a Florida not for profit and a 501(c)(3) corporation with IRS, allowing your gifts to qualify as charitable contributions. Year end tax statements are mailed by January 15. Our mailing list is confidential, we do not loan, sell or share!
Mission Field Worker: Roseline DeHart
Newsletter Editor: Eva DeHart
For HAITI With Love
P.O. Box 1017
Palm Harbor, FL 34682-1017
Cargo: 4767 Simcoe Street
Palm Harbor, Florida 34683-1311
Fax (727) 942-6945