There is So Much Work to be Done
by Sandy Binotto
As the plane circled the airport to land your eyes were fixed on the view below. We had all watched the devastation of the earthquake unfold on TV back at home but nothing really prepared us for seeing it in person. Blue and white tarps are made into tents which are now the homes of those who escaped the shaking ground. They are all huddled together with many touching one another taking up residence in any space they can. Everyone is fearful of going back into the concrete buildings that were once their homes.
Our project was in the town of Mellier, very near the epicenter of the earthquake. They had lost their church and school and as we walked around the community hardly a house was left without some earthquake damage. Everyone was living outside in a tent or tent-like structure.
You stop and wonder if you are really making a difference when the task is so large. In your heart you say "Yes" because one kind smile, handshake or song makes it all worthwhile. If we all join together to lift one block of fallen concrete or cut one piece of twisted rebar - then yes, in time, it will get done. We must not give up. New structures will rise from rubble.
The schools need to be rebuilt in a manner that the children will be able to enter and learn with the fear of being trapped again. Mothers need homes where they are not afraid to lay their babies in their beds for fear of the walls coming down. As teams come to help they need to not be afraid to share the fresh food the Haitians prepare for them or to touch a hand that isn't quite as clean as theirs or sleep in a tent as the Haitians do. We need to work with them, side by side, laughing, singing and, yes, maybe crying.
The children of Mellier brought me the greatest joy. One little girl named Melissa would just sit by me and stare, no smiles, just those big eyes just watching. Soon you would feel her little hands running down your arms, touching you, feeling your white skin a color she had maybe never seen before. She took care of her little brother, Avenel; they were inseparable most of the time. It took several days but then it came, the SMILE that moved your heart. It spread from ear to ear and then came conversation! Melissa jumped rope, colored, and played ball. I had the joy of helping carry water from the well pump to her house. I got to meet her mom who just made it out of the house before it fell with her 3 day old baby inside. The other children were not in the house. Melissa's mother was hit by a block on the right side of her head, but her wound has healed. The little baby laid in a big dish pan on a bed or rags, smiling and cooing, with beautiful chubby cheeks, and no diaper. Beside the baby was her little sister laying on a woven mat of palm branches. The little tent nearby was now their home. Her mom told me that she needed some food. However, as UMVIM teams we are trained to not give out money or materials to one family when many need the help because so doing can cause problems. Instead, we leave items and funds that will be distributed by the church and their leaders. Then the members of the community can help each other.
During our stay we hired 47 people from theÂ village where we worked, including, day laborers, cooks, security personnel, interpreters, persons to wash our clothes, and drivers. We were even able to pay some unpaid teachers. Doing this helped the whole community and developed a relationship of trust and friendship between us.
There is so much more work to be done. The school building will start its construction with the next team, and then the church will be rebuilt. The Methodist Church of Haiti has many priority projects to address. I am proud of the work United Methodist Volunteers in Mission is doing and all those who have and will make the trip here to help.
I am so glad I was asked to go and was able to see firsthand how things were. Now I can encourage others to help in Haiti. After a trip like this you become so much more grateful for what you have and want to share it with others. Thank you Potomac Highlands District of the United Methodist Church in the West Virginia Conference for sending me, I will forever be grateful. Now the work of challenging others to go will begin.
Sandy Binotto, First Romney UMC, Romney, WV
Sandy participated in the May 10 -17 trip to Haiti with the Northeast Jurisdiction UMVIM team,Â Team Leader Greg Forrester. She has signed up to be a team leader for another UMVIM trip to Haiti in March or April of 2011.
Date posted: May 28, 2010