Switchbacks and the journey

Yesterday I left Port-au-Prince to investigate other potential hospitals and sites for Team Broken Earth. It involved 6 hours in a car driving through winding bumpy roads. The horn, I have come to realize, is more important than the brakes or transmission in a car in Haiti.  Everyone communicates with the horn. It’s an amazing language they have developed and is extremely dangerous to travel without. Of course the constant honking meant no sleep but it gave an opportunity to reflect on our work here.

The trip involved going from the seaside of Port-au-Prince straight up the mountains and then over the top and down to Cap-Haitien. A harrowing, adventurous drive over dirt roads, through switchback after switchback climbing up the hill (a switchback is a 180° bend in a road or path leading up the side of a mountain). At every turn in a switchback, the horn would blow to make sure there wasn’t another vehicle traveling in the opposite direction coming down the hill. Occasionally entertaining but more often a white-knuckled experience.

As we were driving, at least 20 minutes from the last house I saw, there was a single little girl walking alone in a pink dress with a white shirt and a big smile.  There was no evidence of a house for almost the last half hour of the drive but there she was, walking, alone.   Where did she come from?  Where was she going? This lone young girl in the middle of nowhere… it caused me to suddenly reflect on where we had come from as a team and where we were going.

The idea that started with three or four people after the earthquake has now grown into over 500 volunteers. Don’t get me wrong, there have been harrowing switchbacks but we all climbed the hill together. As for where we are going… as we get larger and provide more care, education becomes more of the focus so that Haitians can begin to teach themselves.

But I think, more than the destination, perhaps like the smiling girl, it is about the journey, our collective personal journeys that make Team Broken Earth work.  People volunteer their time (often their vacation time), without pay, away from home and loved ones, to make a difference in the world.  And maybe that is the whole point. All we do, where we are going, is all about the journey towards education and helping people along the way.

We visited two sites when we got to our destination and both were struggling with a lack of equipment and funds.  But we did find one opportunity for a maternal team that may work for the delivery and caring for newborns, and of course made connections to teach in the future.

I’m anxious to return to the rest of the team to hear about their progress. They visited an orphanage today and the stories from there are always gut wrenching (apparently there was a new baby there brought in off the streets). Yeah. Believe me, those stories are hard on the heart.

Grant Boland and Michelle Murphy are headed to a school today to do an art class and Skype with some classes from home. Extending our reach towards the community is important!

So where are we going?  Honestly, I am not 100% certain. But I am 100% certain we are headed in the right direction by helping to change the face of a developing country. So grab a seat in the car and I will blow the horn to make the next turn in the switchback heading up the hill.  Together, we will get there.

– Andrew