Haiti envelops me, embraces me, engulfs me in her unconditional love. And so little I can give back in return.
This was my second trip since the devastating earthquake. Sadly nothing much seems to have changed; people living in the same tents, perilously tilting buildings and broken roadways strewn with garbage and rubble.
I arrived with my dear friend Paul Schellhammer to work on filariasis eradication as part of the University of Notre Dame Haiti program.
As I slowly tugged my suitcase through the airport, I heard the happy tinkling of laughter calling my name. It was my Haitian daughter Tamara, she embraced me in her arms. We chatted about her academic performance as she had just finished her second semester at the University of Haiti, studying finance and administration.
My friend Paul was impressed by Tamara’s beauty, poise and personality. We listened to her incessant chat as she hitched a ride on our journey to Leogane.
By the time we reached Leogane’s Residence Filariose, I was tired and sleepy from my redeye flight. We met the staff and received a briefing from Father Tom Streit, a highly erudite academician who has been running the Notre Dame Haiti Program for 16 years.
Our next five days at the Sainte Croix Hospital were spent in all–day surgeries. I loved working with Dr Isma, a young Haitian urologist. Some of the surgeries were complex but we sailed through.
I also met several dedicated young people constructing schools and erecting solar panels in Leogane. The dedication of these young Haitians humbled me.
Soon, it was time to leave, with a promise to return. On our way to Port-au-Prince we noticed the statue of the ‘free black man’, Neg Mawon, still standing in front of the devastated Haitian National Palace. The conch shell in his upturned mouth calling Haiti’s people to gather and fight for freedom and dignity.
I think of the resilience of this first free black nation through centuries of political mayhem in the hands of dictators backed by our Western nations.