Today started with the sounds of hundreds of happy voices singing and clapping in a church across the street. I started my blog with this because, only a few hours later, Frisner drove us through the heart of Port-Au-Prince. I had never been there before so I only know what the earthquake left behind. I had never seen the once-great Catholic cathedral filled with Sunday morning parishioners. Only rubble remains, but those voices singing and clapping permeate the city even still.
When I asked Frisner (my host) what he was most proud of as a Haitian, he told me "our history and culture". Frisner described a Port-au-Prince that was the jewel of the Carribean. He spoke of architecture that was unparalleled anywhere in this part of the world. As we drove through town, he pointed out places that I had seen on news reports from after the earthquake. We saw a once-great Catholic cathedral, now in ruins. Other places which represented heartbreaking devastation now held friends gossiping and children playing. We drove through Carrefour and stopped at the ASAD clinic that we will be working at this week. It has a window that overlooks some of the tents meant to be temporary housing. After five years, they can no longer be considered temporary. They are homes to approximately 100,000 Haitians. Looking across the tents with clothing, parts of toys, and small charcoal cooking bowls strewn on top, you can feel one or two ways: sadness or awe. I felt both. It's never easy for those of us living in comfort to see other human beings living the most difficult of lives and not being able to change their fate. However, across the street were three children waving to my son, Braden. They had the sweetest little faces that crinkled up every time he waved back to them. The tent cities are a reality but it doesn't define the people living in them. I saw what many people don't know about Port-Au-Prince...it's still breathing, pulsing with life, pushing onward, creating more history. It's a tragic scene, but the people living there keep on keeping-on.
We drove out of town to a place with very few buildings. It was the epicenter of the earthquake. Even here, where every two story building was destroyed, Haiti is climbing out of the rubble.
We went up and over the mountains to a seaside town called Jacmel. We walked down to the waterfront. It had a beautiful mosaic path with sculptures quoting Rene Depestré. My favorite sculpture was of three hearts: one broken, one small but whole, and another oversized and filled to the brim. The sculpture summed up what I learned about Haiti today. No conquerors, dictators, corruption, or natural disaster can take away the resilience of the Haitian people. They are filled to the brim.