With the Haiti earthquake almost a month behind us, itâ€™s natural to feel ready to think about something – anything – else. A lot of us have watched the news, given to organizations we believe in, and in some small sense have perhaps even grieved with our Haitian brothers and sisters in their time of need.
But we all know that it will take years to rebuild Haiti. So how do we ensure that, in our Presidentâ€™s words, Haiti will not be forsaken nor forgotten? For starters, by getting to know the context.
In the week just before the quake, ironically, I read a memoir called Following Jesus Through the Eye of the Needle by Kent Annan, co-founder of Haiti Partners. It had been highly recommended by Andy Crouch, who calls it “an unsparingly honest story of relocation to Haiti that captures the complexities of crossing differences of power, wealth, and culture in hopes of being part of God’s work of transformation, without and within. It’s funny, gritty, and strangely hopefulâ€”just what a Christian memoir should be.”
So when I heard there had been a 7.0 magnitude earthquake with an epicenter near Port-au-Prince, I pictured the shacks on those steep hillsides Annan had described, and I knew they must have been destroyed. I thought of the real people described in the book, and I wondered if any were alive.
In the days that followed, I decided I wanted to learn more. I went to Busboys and Poets and picked up a copy of Mountains Beyond Mountains, which tells the remarkable true story of Paul Farmer, a Harvard doctor who has devoted his life to curing infectious diseases in the worldâ€™s most impoverished places – especially Haiti.
Both books are challenging, entertaining, informative, and inspiring, and if you want to learn more about Haiti they may be worth checking out. You might also be interested in this music video from Arcade Fire, a stellar rock band with one Haitian member. This video was filmed on location in Haiti, capturing its vibrancy of life before the devastation. As you watch, consider what it will take for Haitians to once again experience this vibrancy.