Below is a an excerpt from published reflection by Angelo Rose, written shortly after he returned from Haiti in January, 2017.
Le gen lanmou, gen doule’
Somewhat ironically, I will start this brief reflection where physically my journey to Haiti ended…
Dazed and tired, I shuffled into my Ft. Lauderdale hotel and took my first shower in days. There, under the warm embrace of pulsing jets, I was overcome: The thundering guilt of having a home, a bed, clean water to bathe in and my God, the seemingly infinite power to turn the faucet to quench my thirst were collectively just too much to own. Haiti suffers at the most base levels of existence and until I experienced it first hand, it’s devastation remained an abstract truth. Now, there is not a day I don’t recall a face, or silently chant “thank you” when I drink a glass of water or sit down for dinner. It is the difference between watching a a videoclip of someone on a roller coaster and actually sitting in the first car of an old, wooden Skyliner as it claps along tired rails. I knew, however, that ride was going to end for me, that I would fly out and leave behind the countless children I met, the selfless people giving so much to change the norm there. They remain, twisting and turning in markedly inadequate shelter and structure, exposed to the raging elements of nature and consequence of desperation. Children and adults alike are in critical need of nutrition, education and water. The country as a whole flounders in political corruption, unknowns and hypocrisies. The weight of it all was too much and I collapsed to the perfectly tiled shower floor. Sobbing and shaking, I tried to make sense of it all…
Le gen lanmou, gen doule’
When our small group landed in Port au Prince, it was readily apparent that Haiti was strung together by the thinnest of threads. Amidst the chaos, fractured housing and penetrating unknowns, St. Damien Children’s Hospital is an oases. The doctors, nurses, employees, volunteers and Fathers Rick Frechette and Enzo Del Brocco, tirelessly devote each day to saving lives. The hospital is a clean, incredibly well run sanctuary for an endless sea of children in dire need of medical care. Father Rick and Phadool, the Human Resources Director at St. Damien, provided a vast amount of information during daily visits to the hospital. Clean, potable water is infinitely sparse. Quality medicines are desperately needed at St. Damien, as are funds to acquire vital medical equipment.
I was awed by doctors and nurses who repeatedly, selflessly and unconditionally gave all they had. Each morning, mothers line up outside the gates to seek ambulatory medical care for their babies. As this group patiently waits to be seen, the more serious cases are evaluated and treated on the other side of St. Damien. Mothers of children who are required to have lengthy stays are relegated to sleeping in upright metal chairs or on a concrete floor underneath their cribs. Jacqueline Gautier, National Director of St. Damien, confirmed that hospital grade reclining chairs are among the vital equipment needed. The children I met radiated with love, for in the arms of St. Damien they were fed, given medicine and genuine opportunity to heal. Though I am now several weeks removed from my trip, the penetrating eyes of hope travel thousands of miles daily to visit me. A musician often moonlighting as a trial attorney, admittedly I had limited medical skills to offer. This glaring deficiency seemed to matter very little at St. Damien. What the children sought from me, I could aptly provide. Often it was simply a smile, or a hug, or a fingertip to fingertip touch that calmed and soothed. The doctors superbly managed the medical needs and I was at-home simply being there for anything else. My ego was consumed. Gone were daily worries about email and developing trends in recent case law. The next life-or-death argument concerning which divorcee would get the engraved soap dish took it’s proper place in oblivion.