Recently we drove to Port Au Prince, the capital of Haiti, to take Fr. Dave Pivonka to the airport for his flight back to the U.S. Like all trips to Port-Au-Prince, there are many stops because it takes all day to get there and back so you might as well get all your errands done. Nathaniel was pretty sick and we were able to get him an appointment for the same day.
Our day started off at 5am. We met Mami Res, the mother of our priest Fr. Louis, at 5:30am at a gas station on the way to PAP. She had gotten a ride on a motorcycle from over an hour away and she brought freshly baked bread that she made for us. When she found out we hadn’t had coffee yet, she made some phone calls and about an hour later we stopped on the side of the very busy main road of the city. A woman, who didn’t seem to have much, walked up to the truck with a big pot of boiled coffee, with glass mugs, spoons and sugar to go with it. Better than a drive-thru!
At the same stop, a girl named Martine got in our car. I wasn’t sure why she was coming with us but I just went with the flow because that’s what you do around here. I later found out she came with us just to show us how to get to the doctor’s office because none of us knew the way. She spent the whole day with us just to show us how to get somewhere.
Our truck died at the doctor’s office and a doctor tried to jump the car but it didn’t work. Another man was able to get the car started by disconnecting his battery and connecting it to our car. After he reconnected his battery to his car, we were on our way. A few hours later the truck died again. An armed guard of a nearby building let me sit in his chair so I could feed Nathaniel. Many passers-by smiled and talked with us. After that we met up with Fr. Louis’ brother who had picked up 20 five gallons of paint for us. The paint was donated to us by an organization named Food For the Poor. The generosity even flows between organizations.
I’ve never experienced such camaraderie and generosity before. It doesn’t matter whether or not people know each other or are getting something in return for their service. Even if they have nothing, they don’t expect payment, and they are willing to give up an entire day, even if they could’ve been working instead. Martine was with us for 12 hours! We came here to bring hope to the people of Haiti but we are receiving so much from them.
The motto of Haiti is “L’Union Fait La Force”, which means Unity creates Strength. When we work together, and genuinely care about helping one another, this unity creates strength. This is a big lesson we can learn from the Haitian people. We should be willing to help and look out for one another instead of worrying about how long it will take or how it will inconvenience us. We joke with Fr. Louis about how everyone is his cousin, but most Haitians really act like everyone is their family. Let’s act like we are all brothers and sisters because we are.