Editors Note: Sorry it has taken so long to get this post up. The last several weeks have been hectic, at best.
I wrote this as a stand alone blog post for a variety of reasons. One of which is that I was asked by my college newspaper, The Oredigger, to write guest column – which I was more than happy to do. The original plan was to take a blog post and then repurpose it for the newspaper. As it turned out, I did it the other way around.
Below is an expanded version of what I wrote for The Oredigger.
In the early 17th century, the French established a presence on Hispaniola. In 1697, Spain ceded to the French the western third of the island, which later became Haiti. The French colony, based on forestry and sugar-related industries, became one of the wealthiest in the Caribbean but only through the heavy importation of African slaves and considerable environmental degradation. In the late 18th century, Haiti’s nearly half million slaves revolted under Toussaint L’ouverture. After a prolonged struggle, Haiti became the first black republic to declare independence in 1804. The poorest country [and also perceived as the most corrupt] in the Western Hemisphere , Haiti has been plagued by political violence for most of its history. After an armed rebellion led to the forced resignation and exile of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February 2004, an interim government took office to organize new elections under the auspices of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Continued violence and technical delays prompted repeated postponements, but Haiti finally did inaugurate a democratically elected president and parliament in May of 2006.
My involvement with Haiti is a rather curious one. Last spring, I was looking for a summer mission trip that would be able to use to my skills as an engineer. Although I pursued several different avenues, I didn’t find anything that struck a chord with me. Excuses will always be prevalent, especially in today’s society. Through an interesting set of short conversations with a variety of people over the fall, I decided that it’s high time I let my “religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.” (G. K. Chesterton)
So there it was.
I left for Haiti on January 8th. It was an arduous journey to get there (or so I thought), leaving in the early morning from Seattle, flying to Chicago, and then to Miami. Miami only offered a short reprieve (I think we spent more time trying to get to our hotel rooms than we did in them) before we had to be back at Miami’s International Airport to catch our flight to Haiti.