The day started early today, because Haiti received it’s feared most since the earthquake-rain. During the night in between sleep and wake, I thought I felt some rain drops. Then I was jolted out of bed by a Haitian frantically trying to move my mattress under the awning. The next thing I knew, the bottom fell out.
The UN officers trying to control an aggressive and increasingly violent crowd.
I lay there outside, but protected from the rain. And in the faint distance, I heard young children crying, as the sheets and sticks being used as their house, did not protect them from the heavy downpour. I laid there praying, begging God to make the rain stop, but it seemed like the harder I prayed, the harder the rain came down. Then, we hear a mob of people marching by our house in the rain and chanting, “I may be afraid, but I still have Jesus!”
The rain lasted on and off throughout the night and into the morning. It cleared up just in time for the food distribution in Pastor Forges’ community. There were 1,500 food coupons distributed the night before, but much more lined up in an aggressive mob the next morning. Led by my group, I pushed my way through the crowd inside the gate where the distribution was to take place. This is the first time I’ve been scared since my arrival in Haiti.
The UN arrived shortly with an army trucks carrying soldiers and all the food that was to be distributed. Each person with a coupon got one bucket of rice and one bucket of beans. I watched tearfully as UN officers had to use their guns and sticks to control the crowd. It reminded me of cow herders herding cattle. It broke my heart to see people brought to this level of desperation that they behave and are treated like animals. This is not okay.
Once preparations were finished and the crowd was somewhat subdued, the distribution of the food went very smooth. Until it was over, and people without tickets were trying to raid area where the leftover buckets food were that was being taken to the orphanage and the church staff.
The people exiting with their bucket of rice and beans.
One of the church staff, Cenatta, looked at me and said, “Can you help?” I eagerly said yes, so she told me to grab two buckets and run for it. really hard to desc
ribe the next ten minutes, because everything was so frantic. The UN officers escorted us, but they were having a hard time controlling the crowd. I started getting mobbed by people trying to grab the buckets out of my hand, crying and begging me for it. Only by God’s strength was I able to hold it together. I couldn’t look into their desperate eyes, or I would have lost it.
When this was all over, I had to sit, breathe and cry . I had so many going on at once…happy, sad, confusion, frustration, anger. I was happy that the people were being provided for; sad for the people that didn’t receive food; confused why they have to suffer and not me?; frustrated that the UN is not doing a better job with aid distribution; and angry that the people had to be treated like animals.
All of this transpired before 10:00 in the morning. Needless to say, I am physically and emotionally exhausted.