Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Lorrin McElroy, Lawrence High graduate, has been going to Haiti for years now to help out at an orphanage. During her trip to Haiti this year, she took a trip out to the countryside, which was a different experience altogether.
It was a hot February day riding through the Haitian desert on the back of a flatbed truck. The two drilled-in benches held the 20 Kansans in my group on our way to provide $400 worth of rice, beans and grain to a small village — enough to feed 185 families.
I was excited but apprehensive from the culture shock, a feeling not calmed by the fact that even our native driver Ti-Ti was getting lost on the unmarked desert roads.
Kids emerged from the stick-and-concrete huts, chasing our truck as we approached. Many of them were naked and many had never seen a white person.
When we pulled into town, the locals gathered in the church to be briefed on what would happen. We were told to wait outside during this, and in this time I was confronted with stark poverty.
One woman invited me into her home, which was empty except for a curtain, two chairs and a mattress supporting a man who had been crippled since the 2010 earthquakes.
I raced back to the truck for the handout to begin. Though the raw need was unsettling, the interaction was so frantic that I could not focus on anything but the task itself. The truck was parked alongside the church to provide a clear channel for the line, but it was more of a free-for-all, with most of them re-entering the line to take advantage of the rare opportunity.
I distinctly remember a moment of overbearing irony, seeing a girl in a donated shirt reading “end world hunger” in a language she could not read.
The handout was over as soon as it began, and we did not wait around when it had finished. The villagers were grateful, seeing us off with cries of “merci” on what would be a pensive ride back to our 10-foot walls and armed guards.