A week in Haiti
By Jacob Hatcher
For a boy who spent his summers raising barns and digging 100-yard trenches by hand in the southern sun to say it was hot, you can believe it was hot. We stepped off the plane in Port-au-Prince and started sweating like an Alabama kicker with the game on the line. My only real knowledge of Haiti came from a gentleman that had visited my uncle when I was a child, and his stories were less than comforting. As we arrived at our worksite, decimated by an earthquake that killed a horrific number of people, I wondered what the Haiti of this man’s childhood looked like. I wondered what this tent city looked like before the ground moved and swallowed itself. I wondered what this place was like before deforestation and imperialism took the shade away.
We spent the week mixing concrete by hand and stacking blocks. We spent our lunches huddled under the one tree we could find, playing games with children we could not understand. We watched as a man loved his family, overwhelmed by the Americans that came to build him a one room block house. All these years later, there’s not a week that goes by that I don’t think about Haiti. Somehow, Gatorade and crackers taste like that place. When the summer sun hits my skin, I wipe the sweat from my forehead and I am transported for a second. I guess Haiti will always have a part of me. I’ll probably always long to be there for a few seconds a day. Maybe it’s the memories that were made or the friendships that were formed. Maybe it’s the sense of purpose and mission. More than anything, though, I think it’s the lessons that were learned. It’s the stripping away of who we were for a week to see outside of ourselves. It’s the camaraderie of back breaking work in a strange place. And it’s the way God molded me like the mortar between those blocks, forming in me something that didn’t exist before.