Our visit to Cite Soleil, Haiti this week consumed me with emotion. This being my second trip to Haiti, I thought seeing the poverty would be easier ~ I was wrong. Located within the capital city Port-au-Prince, Cite Soleil is where the poorest of the poor live. The absence of running water and sewer systems is the norm. People live in homes aka shanties made of metal, wood, or whatever material they can find ... all with dirt floors. Since no refuse collection service is provided, broken glass, plastic bottles, and other garbage litters the streets. Half-naked, children with medical conditions needing attention can regularly be seen. Many people who visit Haiti stay away from Cite Soleil due to gang violence and the absence of police presence. However, our team delivered free, clean drinking water to them this week. No human being should have to live like those in Cite Soleil. Unfortunately, the only way of escape is via education, but education in Haiti requires tuition so if you are poor, you remain uneducated.
My camera served as a form of entertainment for the children of Cite Soleil, providing a diversion from their everyday life. I took a couple hundred pictures of beautiful faces, several of which were smiling. After I would snap the shot, the children would grab my camera, look at the image, and uncontrollably laugh out loud. Bringing this small amount of joy to them warmed my heart. At one point, a boy came to me repeating the same thing over and over in his native language creole. I asked our interpreter Fanfan what he was saying. Fanfan replied, "He is asking if you could take him to the United States with you." I was unprepared for that heart-felt question from such a beautiful young man. His eyes pleaded with me. I told him that I was sorry, but I could not bring him home. He lowered his head and gracefully accepted my answer. This broke me. I quickly snapped a photo of the two of us together and then had to walk away to recapture my composure.
I didn't sleep at all that night. The images I had taken earlier in the day just kept flashing through my mind. What would the future hold for these children? They are all so beautiful, created in God's image. Despite the difficulty in seeing the living conditions, my visits to Cite Soleil prove to be my most favorite activity. Just before leaving one of the stops, I ran into a man named Jeanny that I had met during my first visit to Haiti. He remembered me and was so happy to see me again. In his broken English, he said, "I appreciate you." I swallowed the lump in my throat, once again tried to regain my composure, and then snapped his picture. His words were written on my heart that day. God ... please care for and bless the people of Cite Soleil. I know you hold them in the palm of your hand.