Can you imagine walking by your neighbor’s home, greeting them, asking a simple, “How’s it going?” and hearing back, “I’m not sure that I’ll live beyond this month”. Our friends in Delmas 30, a neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, are too closely accustomed to these words and the likelihood of their happening. As I grew up going back and forth to Haiti I knew I’d never get it. I had a US passport, I went home to a clean house, plentiful food, doctors when I needed them, and the hope of being able to learn a skill and give of it to the world. Although possessing little, what I knew and loved most of our Haitian friends was their joy, warmth, and deep love for neighbor. A few years ago, some American friends and I asked if there was anything they specifically desired that we could potentially help them with.
“We have nothing to give”, they said, “But if you’d teach us, we’d be able to help our community”. Instead of asking for material possessions, advancements or comforts, our friends desired to take care of the neighbor that felt close to death’s doorstep, or the one that had had one stroke already and faced another if their hypertension was not brought under control.
It was beautiful to watch these Haitian friends hearts grow. We did a massive survey of the community and every nook and cranny was explored. Although these friends had spent most of their lives in the area, they had not had reason to ask about illness and health related issues in the past. We watched as their compassion toward their neighbor and an urgency to see change and healing welled within them. Thus, the health workers came to be. They knew a vision for the community. They wanted to set things right. They had hope that healing could come to their neighbors.
I love the earnestness with which they are learning how to take pulses in this picture. Its as if they’re saying, “Finally! I can reach out and offer hope to that neighbor who thinks she’ll die next month… I can actually help my community”.
Vwazen Nou President