A letter from Cindy Corell serving in Haiti
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Delmas is one of the primary roads from downtown Port-au-Prince to the commercial center of Petionville. It is heavily traveled. Two lanes go each way, with a foot-tall cement median designed, I suppose, to keep unruly drivers from crossing over.
Traffic is often so tied up that motorists are at a standstill. And taking advantage of the slow traffic, young boys carry rags and aggressively offer to wipe the dust off windshields for a few Haitian gourdes, maybe 10 or 15 cents.
Most of the boys are teens, but some are much younger.
This morning I saw two youngsters, maybe 7 years old, sitting on the median, their feet only inches away from vehicles. They waited, rags in hand, for their chance to grab a vehicle and make a few pennies.
My friend and taxi driver saw me watching the boys. “Don’t cry for that,” he said. “Don’t cry for that. If you cry for that, you’ll be crying all the time.”
Yeah, well, I cry. I cry a lot more than I ever have. Watching people old, young and in the middle traverse the razor’s edge of poverty makes me sad.
I’ve been living and working in Haiti almost three years now. My marching orders were to listen. That’s been a challenge, but I’ve tried.
And now is my time to tell the stories of Haiti as I have witnessed life here—in the cities and in small villages, on the highways and along the roads along the way.
I know my friend meant well. We both know anyone spending time in Haiti is going to see sadder sights than children working in the streets.
But I am going to keep on crying, friend.
I cry that all children aren’t given a chance to go to school.
I cry for women who die in childbirth because they don’t have access to minimal health care.
I cry because mothers weep when they cannot feed their children.
I cry for old people who, crippled with arthritis after a lifetime of hard living, die curled up in corners because there is no care for the elderly.
I cry because wealthy landowners and corporations shove families from their land because—well, because they can.
I cry because farmers can’t afford to feed their families—let that sink in for a minute—because foreign food imports severely undercut their own production costs.
Oh, yes. I’m going to keep crying until we can see a change. And I’ve seen glimpses of it!
I’ve seen Haitians helping their neighbors, including me.
I’ve seen members of grassroots Haitian organizations working so hard to provide for one another. They carry sick people down mountains on wooden doors. They take up collections for scholarships. They work in each other’s gardens to provide food for all. They encourage and cheer each other on.
For three years now I’ve wept and cheered with our brothers and sisters here—all in the fight for real change.
I will return to the U.S. in May to visit churches and tell more of these stories. It is not only part of my work as a mission co-worker appointed by Presbyterian World Mission, it is also is a privilege and honor.
Please get in touch if your congregation or group would like to invite me to present on our work here in Haiti.
I will bring you stories of accomplishment and encouragement. And I just might cry with you.
When asked what is the greatest commandment in Matthew 22:36-39, “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
I’ve come to Haiti to love our neighbor. I will return to the U.S. to share the love I’ve received in return. I will happily offer a message, a Minute for Mission, Sunday school presentation, luncheon presentation and/or Vacation Bible School program.
A note on expenses: The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) pays my salary while I’m on interpretation assignment, so I neither need nor expect any kind of honorarium. My food, lodging, and travel expenses are not covered, however, and I will need your support in meeting those needs.
We can discuss specifics as we plan, but please know that I will try to group visits by region and share the cost of airfare or car rental among several churches or organizations where possible. I’m also happy to work with you if you have frequent flyer miles to donate for airfare, a borrowed car available for transportation within the area, etc. If you would like to invite me but cannot provide for my travel, please consider working with other churches or groups in your area to combine activities in the same week and share costs. If that is not possible, let me know and I’ll look for other ways to cover those expenses.
I want to thank all of you for your faithful support during this term of my work in Haiti. Your financial, prayerful and encouraging support have meant more than you will ever know. Please continue to give, to pray and to encourage! Good things are happening here in Haiti, and we go forward knowing we have so much more to do together!
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