Monday, January 23, 2012

Friar Suppliers Haiti Mission Trip, Jan 12-19, 2012

Last week I had the privilege and adventure of accompanying 23 lay people, two CFR sisters and five of our brothers on a Friar Suppliers' on a mission trip to Carrefour, Haiti. Friar Suppliers is an organization that donates food and other supplies to the CFR friaries and convents in the New York area on a monthly basis; Charlie and Joan Moran coordinate the efforts out of their flower shop in Lindenhurst, Long Island. It grew out of a group of families committed to praying for and supporting the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Renewal. Every year since 2004, under Charlie's fearless and faith-filled leadership, they have made a mission trip to assist the people of Haiti, travelling twice in 2010 in the wake of the January 12, 2010 earthquake that took so many lives and caused such extensive damage. A small parallel medical team has made additional visits in between the larger annual trips. This year we happened to fly into Port-au-Prince on the second anniversary of that disaster.

Remnants of an emergency tent city near the airport. 
A lot has been done to reorganize the capital in the past two years: the removal of rubble and the relocating of the emergency settlements to house those who lost their homes. But the scars of the earthquake are everywhere, most visibly in the colossal collapsed ruins of large buildings throughout the city.

Ruins of the cathedral (above) and a government building (below)
in downtown Port-au-Prince.

Even before the earthquake, Haiti was strapped with serious problems, struggling to climb out from under decades of colonial rule, occupation, dictatorship and gross governmental mismanagement. The earthquake magnified that struggle beyond the breaking point. Even basic services such as trash removal seem beyond the capability of the capital municipal government.

A drainage canal filled with refuse.
And yet in the midst of all this there are people - men, women and children - who go about their lives, fighting to survive and striving to somehow come to grips with the mystery of their own existence and all that has happened to them. But for the Haitians, this is hardly a hapless endeavor. There is faith and music and laughter, and against the backdrop of the often bleak urban scenery, color and life explode in the countless "tap tap" taxis, buses and trucks that weave through the streets. An unmistakable sign of the resiliency of the human spirit and the refusal to give up hope, even in the face of overwhelming challenges.

Colorfully painted and richly adorned "tap tap" taxis (above and below).

In the next few days I'll be sharing additional photos and experiences from the trip.

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