Nuns on a hill; outreach; a tale of two cities

It’s been an exhausting few days, doing many jobs at the same time. Emergencies are both horrifying and exhilarating – so much to do, structures in flux, time-frames so tight, that you can often determine what you want to be involved in, and get stuck in. No waiting on ceremony here.

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I am doing three main jobs right now: liaising with the international press, taking photos and making videos (in itself actually a 3-person job), and helping design a comprehensive strategy to reach local populations with crucial information – using all sorts of tools, from radio, to sms, posters, mobile cinema units. So much going on, so much going on. Information structures are in crisis here, and we need to help support the reconstruction of the entire media world.

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I made a quick film of a distribution we did by helicopter in the far hills beyond Port-au-Prince. Tough conditions, but a real community there. In the capital things can get chaotic fast, many people trying to get political and financial advantage from the situation, but here it was a delight to work with people who knew each other. We were working closely with a religious order, doing great work. I am not religious myself, but these sisters and brothers are really on the front line, in tough, tough conditions.

Meanwhile Port-au-Prince is reverting to its former two worlds status. Petionville, the more wealthy area, is returning to form. Most buildings there are fine, the restaurants are up and running, shops open, systems are back in place. The main noticeable difference is a vast number of displaced camping out in the town squares, but you can feel some kind of normality creeping back.

But other parts of the city, and in the regions, remain utterly brutalised. Great deprivation. Everyone wants to know why we haven’t fixed it yet. But please realise – this is the country’s major city, and it has fallen to pieces. Not only buildings, but community structures, society’s glue. And us also. Many of us died too. It is amazing that Haitians continue to bear their load with such patience. This is a long long job.

So, a return to what we already knew in Haiti: the wealthy and the deprived, side by side, but magnified, exacerbated, many times.

Every so often, driving around, I get hit with an overwhelming sense of the momentous times I am living through. This is unprecedented stuff, it will be in the history books. I hope we get it right.

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4 responses to “Nuns on a hill; outreach; a tale of two cities

  1. Thank you for sharing this – the pictures, the accounts, the work you are doing and the people you are working with. Like you, and like many, I hope we get it right – so much good could be done now, if only we all work together in the right way. My dream is that we find a way to give all Haitians the tools they need to rebuild their communities and to themselves create a more viable situation in which to live in the years to come.

    • thank you… it’s with people like you that we can keep this thing going. Too often the world packs up and goes home. Not this time, please. Not this time.

  2. Well done Mark! You are doing an incredible job in an incredible situation of disaster, poverty, etc. etc. Keep up the good work! It’s only by informing outsiders of the Haitian tragedy that they will become more aware of the desperate situation of the Haitian people.

  3. I am planning to move to South America to assist with an orphanage and school but have recently began to consider and pray about Haiti. I was wondering if you might know of a place where I can get more information about what would be needed to make the move to Haiti instead. I’m looking to stay very long term and to work with children who have need. If you can, could you point me in the right direction? I’ve been planning the move to Ecuador, however, seeing the great need of Haiti might change those plans.

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