The earthquake in Haiti is now old news but the images that flood the TV and Internet make it impossible to not think about the suffering of the people. In an already impoverished nation where 54 % of the population lives on less that 1$ a day and it is the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere. Looking at the images of pain and rubble, destroyed and devastated buildings and lives I have no answer to why this would happen. But I know that God is still good. That even in the midst of suffering He is there. I know this but after being up throughout the night nursing Evangeline and continuously seeing an image of a little girl’s body probably only 2 years older than Annikah laying in the street loosely covered by a dirty sheet I cannot help feel helpless. As I hold my dear baby I ache for those mothers that are searching for their children, for those that have lost family members, for those that are suffering and those that feel abandoned or lost. I have never suffered like this. Not even close. I pray that I would chose hope if I did.
It also makes my soul ache that some people chose to make comments that wound deeply and in my opinion show no understanding of the true Gospel of peace. That Jesus loves loves all people, that all of us have fallen short, and none of us can sit in judgement of another person.
Watching images and hearing interviews makes me want to help in a real way.
What can I do? I can give, I could go (probably not realistic right now not to mention I have little skills needed), and I can pray. I can be affected and chose to not allow the images simply become the news sandwiched in between some celebrity going to rehab and the latest must have gadget which is all too easy and to be honest is my natural tendency. I can create awareness, foster empathy, encourage prayer in my and my family’s life.
Because of where we now live it is also easy for me to picture the chaos. I can see similar scenes where we are and my thoughts are also drawn to the island that has become our home and to which we will return shortly. We have often thought about how many things happen there that the rest of the world in unaware of. How if something happened like a natural disaster the situation of lack of health care, supplies, resources, etc would be similar to what is now happening in Haiti. Tanzania is a poor country and many people live day to day. Many of my neighbors cannot afford to send their children to school. And to put it in perspective Anni’s school costs the equivalent of 11 dollars a month and yet is still out of reach for many people we know. The rate of doctors to the population in Tanzania is around 0.02 per 1,000 people. Things are just different and hardship is a reality more of the time.
Right now on our island there is a power outage that while is no where near the same as the disaster in Haiti is causing hardship for the people that live there. So far it has lasted 5 weeks and according to our team mate’s latest info may last at least another month. While I do not understand all the factors that caused the outage this has happened before (in May 2008). Like many problems there it is the result of failing infrastructure and lack of planning (a power cable that connects the island to the mainland was only supposed to last 25 years but has been in use for 35 years). The issue is not only power but that when there is no power many people also have no access to water (because pumps are used to fill water tanks). The length of the outage seems to also be causing some political unrest and hurting the economy as well. Read more here and here. I have been praying for our team mates and our friends as it is HOT there right now and I cannot imagine day after day of no power (meaning no refrigerators, no fans, little or no water, etc). People that have generators can run them but the diesel fuel costs a ton and as the outage continues becomes less and less practical or sustainable due to the high cost and availability of fuel (also it is only a solution a few hours a day). Our team has been providing water to some villages and trying to bless the people that are struggling during the power outage and desperately need water but recently their van broke down. The power may still be out when we arrive and while it is nothing compared to the hardships in Haiti that worries me.
While all of this is far away from most of us where others are hurting help, healing, and hope is needed. I can act and I can pray. And I will.