Sr. Deana Reports on Visit to Haiti
September 18, 2012
Sister Pia Rottinghous and I left for Haiti at the invitation of Mike Anderson from
Lincolin NE. Our purpose was to visit the orphanage that Mike Anderson had
completed and to make connections with people to see if a small community of
Missionary Benedictine Sisters could be of service at some point.
We traveled together on August 22, 2012, at 6:oo am from Omaha and arrived in
Pot Au Prince, Haiti that same day at about 4pm. My first impressions were that
Port Au Prince had a massive population. Even at the airport, it was packed with
cars and people moving about in all directions. I remember a small band of playing
drums and singing as we departed from the plane.
One could still see the damage from the January 2010 earthquake there in the
airport. Only a few areas were useable where people could receive service. As soon
as we left the airport, we started climbing a mountain. That road was in fair condition but most of the sidestreets
were in ill repair. The poverty was very much visible and very tangable everywhere we looked.
As we made our way to the Mountain Top Ministries guest house, travel was difficult for many reasons; too many
cars, tap taps (gaily painted buses or pick-up trucks that serve as share taxis), trucks, scooters, animals and people
trying to navigate this narrow moutain road, all at the sametime. The drivers in Port Au Prince need to have lots of
courage and skill to move through such conditions. We saw some tent cities and the poor conditions of most of the
housing. Most resembled what we would call ‘one-room sheds’ made of concrete blocks. We could also see some
rebuilding being done too, but there was dust, dirt, piles of fallen rocks, plastic bottles and plastic bags everywhere!
It was hard to wrap our minds around it all. There was very little drinkable water and many hungry people, few
places for children to play and in fact we did not see children playing. This spoke volumes to us.
Our stay was very short and we did not make the contacts we were hoping to make, because we were caught by
the hurricane. We lost our means to communicate with the outside world for a time, but we were safe because the
people who cared for us, Beth and Willem Charles, and their two sons David and Stephen, made our stay delightful.
Life in Haiti is very simple and at the same time extremely difficult, because the population lacks just about
everything that we Americans call ‘basic needs.’ What Haiti needs is people who are willing to build a long term
relationship with them and help them become self sustainable through education, building good healthcare systems,
infastructures to make life easier such as clean water systems, proper housing, security systems, the list could go on
and on. One thing they do not want is for people to “do for them” and then leave. They want people to work beside
them....and in the process, build lasting relationships. They do not want handouts but rather a ‘hands up’ of support,
as they rebuild their lives and their country.
Please keep Haiti in your prayers. Sister Deana