Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Yesterday morning at 7:15am I met a friend for breakfast. His name is Tom and he is a doctor here in town. He chooses to work at Urgent Care so he can maintain flexibility in his schedule, because several times a year he goes down to Haiti and works in a clinic.
I had to go to Urgent Care last June, and met him. We soon connected on our mutual desire to serve the poor in the ways they felt the most need. When I told him I was just getting started with Eden Reforestation Projects, his eyes brightened. He had started going to Haiti four years previous, and worked with a local pastor to provide consistent medical care, educational support and clean water to a large group of orphans. But he said that even when he first started with the group that the pastor told him, "Our great vision and hope is that we begin the work of reforestation. That will really help us to rebuild our land."
So Tom and I started working on ways to get that vision going. He met with Eden's director, and they met for a day in Haiti itself as well this past October. A small nursery was started with 10,000 seedlings. Eden is proceeding slowly in Haiti because the devastation is so massive. We can't even figure out the native species because the landscape is so denuded.
Tom and I met yesterday to move forward. He's returning in March, and wanted some help on how to prepare the group of med students he's bringing. He showed me two bracelets he'd had made on his last trip down there, building on the operating premise of Eden: "Plant Trees. Save Lives." Then he handed me the Save Lives bracelet in the photo and I put it on.
How could I have known how stunning a statement that bracelet would be just a few hours a later. My heart aches for Haiti, a land and a people who have already sustained unimaginable devastation. Even on CNN last night, Anderson Cooper mentioned how the deforestation in the country will compound the damage in Haiti. The quake and its aftershocks will cause landslides, and the naked hillsides (Haiti only has 2-3% of its forests remaining) will not be able to hold the soil, resulting in massive landslides and even worse damage. Indeed, the pastor's vision for reforestation is more pertinent than ever.
Pray for Haiti. Pray for the many people serving and living there. Pray for wisdom in the distribution of aid that will be pouring into the country, which is already at such a high level. Pray against civil unrest as the people are forced to live out of doors. May this disaster spur even more interest in ways to care and commit to the developing world. And remind yourself to keep praying and keep caring, even as the flow of news dies down.