The Independent Newsweekly
|June 2, 2004||
Vol. 2, No. 8
Sr. Judy Dohner lives and works in Haiti.
Knowing we had heard and listened to the call of the Spirit, we headed back toward the city. Our misfortune was truly their fortune.
After the storm: Attempting to help in Haiti
By Judy Dohner, HM
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Flash floods in Haiti during the month of May have brought death and devastation to a country all ready overwhelmed by intense poverty. It is the worst natural disaster in years and came just 3 months after a bloody rebellion. The remote villages near the border with the Dominican Republic were the worst ravaged.
On the day before Pentecost, the Spirit touched the hearts of members of St. Luc's Mobile Medical Team in Port-au-Prince to make a trip to Fond Verrettes, one of the areas where hundreds drowned in flash floods. Our plan was to take food and medical supplies to the local Catholic church where the parish priest could distribute them to the most needy.
We continued on our journey because we had heard that more help was needed.
The road up the mountains became rocky and rough, but on we lumbered. We passed a lone bulldozer making its slow journey up the mountain, steel rubbing against steel because long ago it had lost its rubber wheel pads. Suddenly, we came upon three abandoned pick-up trucks. Just ahead, a rockslide had apparently closed the road, but a dozen men from the mountain villages offered us encouragement to continue. They told us that children and women were there hungry and asking for food. Slowly, inch-by-inch, with the men's help moving rocks out of the way and guiding us, we got through the rockslide.
About a half mile ahead, the road just vanished. Rock slides and gushing water during the flash floods had washed the road and much of the mountainside into the riverbed, which was now dry except for rivulets of water where villagers were washing their clothes.
One of our pick-up trucks got stuck in the water in the riverbed. The truck was too heavy with the food we were taking to Fond Verrettes. Besides, by now it was too late now to make it to our destination. It was then that we realized that the Spirit had called us to make this journey and that this tiny village was our real destination. These people had not been flooded out, but they were suffering from the results of the rains, too. There was no Catholic priest or church in the area, so we asked for the local minister. When his representative arrived, we gave him the food for distribution.
With the lightened loads and our lightened hearts, the villagers were able to push our pickup out of the riverbed. They guided us back along the impassable mountain road until we could continue on our own. Knowing we had heard and listened to the call of the Spirit, we headed back toward the city. Our misfortune was truly their fortune.
Safely home after our eight-hour adventure in which we never reached "our" destination, we asked the question, "Did we accomplish our task?" By listening and responding to the call of God's Spirit, we certainly accomplished God's plan for that day.
© 2003 The National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company, 115
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