Tyler and Patrice, our student leaders, prepared a little packet of quotes/poems/readings for us to reflect on in our down time that I have found quite inspiring and thought provoking. I'm pretty sure that it would be a copyright violation to include the whole thing here, so I will just include the first few lines and I think you'll get the gist. It's a riff on the famous Ecclesiastes verse about time. It is called 'Take time" and is by Stanislaus Kennedy:
"Take time to live-- it is what life is for.
Take time for justice -- it is the beginning of peace.
'Take time to look afresh-- it will fill you with surprise
Take time to search -- it is the secret of eternal youth'
Coming to Haiti has been an instance of taking time to look afresh: both at myself and the hecticness of my day to day life as well as those things that we take for granted: easy access to food, water, electricity, roads, trash collection, etc. We were all completely exhausted from our travel-- very little sleep and then a lot of newness once we arrived. Yesterday was a day to refresh and reflect. We caught up on our sleep (which always makes life better), went to mass in Kreyol (which was very peaceful and interesting) and met some inspiring young people (both the Haitian students who came to talk about their experiences and getting to know the Gannon students better). It was also a lot of fun to watch the Haitian and American students do this elaborate cup song together.
Today we are going to a feeding program which I know will be challenging. As a mother, I know how hovering and close to my child a felt in her early stages of life. I breastfed for two years and that not only provided sustenance to my child but a deep physical and emotional bond. It is heartbreaking to contemplate not having enough food myself to be able to nourish my child and facing the choice of having to give up my child so that she could eat.
Father Frank had read an interesting reflection written by a past visitor to Outreach Haiti that had talked about solidarity and Haitians not needing pity but people walking with them. I struggle in my reactions in the face of challenging but important issues. I feel pity about a mother not being able to feed her child, but it is also something to remember and act on in the months and years to come. It is also important to appreciate the joy, culture, and beauty of this place, which I do.