Author: Anonymous Haiti Missionary
This year started for me with a trip to Haiti. I went with a group of 13 girls which I did not know before this experience.
I did not know what to expect in Haiti. The only thing I knew was that an earthquake destroyed most of the things Haitians had.
It has been 2 years since the earthquake and people still live in tents. You see little kids running naked through the streets, people peeing wherever they needed to, and ruins everywhere.
Our group joined the Missionaries of Charity to help in whatever they asked us to do so. For those of you who do not now them, they are the congregation that Mother Therese of Calcutta founded. They dedicate their lives to help the poor and they live from God’s providence. This means that they posses nothing. They live from donations. Some of the different things they do is having a hospital for sick children which in some cases turns into an orphanage because the parents do not always go back to get their kids. This sounds harsh, but you need to understand that these parents have nothing to offer their children. Most of the times, they arrive to the hospital because the kids suffer malnutrition, and at the hospital they receive food and medication. Most of the times the mother realizes that she has nothing to help the children stay healthy, she decides to leave the kid there and never goes back for him or her. This is the most common story you can hear from the missionaries.
I witnessed something like that while I was there. I remember that day vividly, there were a lot of mothers waiting to be attended by one the missionaries. Each mom was holding a baby in arms. There were at least five moms with their babies. I noticed that one of the mothers was really preoccupied.
I got near to her and touched her arm. I remember her eyes. She looked at me and gave me the baby to hold. It was as if she thought that I could do something for him. The baby had a fever and he had already received medication, but he still was really warm. I turned my eyes to the mom and smiled. We did not speak the same language, but we could understand each other. I had never felt this before with anyone. She knew a little English, but still we could not have a conversation. I kept holding and singing to her son, and suddenly she turned to me and said: “Baby” pointing to her son, and then: “you take”, and she points toward me making a movement as if she wanted me to take the baby. I could see in her eyes guilt and frustration, that was when I understood that her love for that baby was so great that she only wanted him to be ok. With my eyes full of tears, I turned to her and said: “Baby needs mommy”, and I gave her the baby to hold. I tried to stay there for a while, but I was about to cry, so I left and finally let those tears away.
Another thing that really impressed me was that most of the kids, the toddlers, did not want to play or have gifts, they only wanted to be held in arms. I have gone on missions in some other places like Mexico, but it is really different. In most orphanages the kids want you to play with them, but in Haiti the kids just want you to give them some love, to tickle them, to smile to them. It was really easy to make them smile. They could be really poor, and they could be very sick, but they smiled easily.
The missionaries also have another hospital called Home of the Dying. It is called that way because the hospitals in Haiti are full, and when they have patients that are about to die, they take them away to use the bed for someone that has a chance to live, so the missionaries take these patients and care for them until they die. We only went once to this place, but it was a great experience. The people pointed toward the body part that hurt, and we just touch them with tenderness. Before touching them, their eyes were like lost in space, but when they felt our hands you could see light in them, again they just wanted someone to show them a little love. It was beautiful to see how these people had nothing and yet they smiled with truth, with gratitude.
By the third day, the change in me started. I was leaving many things and feelings unresolved while facing all of this. I felt like there was no reason to go back home. My life had no meaning anymore. A normal day for me would be to wake up, go to school, have lunch at home, sometimes exercise or hang out with friends, but nothing mattered anymore. There are millions of people suffering hunger and hoping for someone to smile at them, babies waiting for someone to hold them and sing for them. While I would be living a meaningless life surrounded by everything I need to survive.
After a long crisis, crying for more than two hours thinking how could I go back to my everyday life, I realized that there is something I can do. There is something I can change, and that is my attitude and my view towards life. At this time, I am studying psychology, and I realized that it is not only about studying to become a great psychologist or to be “successful”, or making money. I want to work hard because with my degree I am going to be able to help others find a reason to live, find happiness, find freedom. It is not only about being a good sister or daughter, is about showing my family that I love them; that I care for them. In Haiti there are lots of kids with many different types of needs, but what about those that live around us, under our same roof. What about the person that is traveling beside you in the airplane? How many times we don’t stop and try to get to know the person that is beside you? How many times we ignore our neighbors, or sometimes even our friends?
With this experience I realized that in Haiti it is easy to give love because they are poor or because a child is an orphan, or because a lady is dying. Now I know that my life can have meaning if I decide to live giving love to every person that I meet. How many times we see people walking by, and we turn somewhere else when we are about to make eye contact instead of just exchanging a smile? I believe there are two types of people in this world, the ones that live loving themselves and others, and the ones that do not love themselves or others. It is just as saying that there are some that are happy and some are not. After this trip to Haiti, I have learned how I want to live my life. How are you going to live yours?