Dear Friends and Family,
Sara and I, along with our dogs Ralph and Lucy, would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays both from our home-away-from-home in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and from our home in Lexington where Sara will join me on Christmas Eve.
2010 has been a challenging year for us, as we have tried to settle in yet another international location, tried to create a home for ourselves away from the family and friends we hold so dear and miss so often.
Though last year we didn’t make it home for the holidays, Sara and I spent Christmas itself on a stunningly secluded beach in central Vietnam, playing in the sun and sea, eating food so delicious we salivate now even thinking about it.
However, just two weeks after that lovely holiday in paradise, the January 12th earthquake in Haiti brought our life in Hanoi to a premature end. By the first week of February Sara was on the ground in Port-au-Prince, having had a mere 18 hours at our home in Lexington to transition. Since that time she has still not had more than 5 consecutive days in Kentucky, not more than a week in close to 2 years. And though, of course, Sara loves her work and is passionate about providing homes for those displaced by the earthquake, she’s saddened that time away from her own home distances her from those she loves, forcing her to think about from far away.
I, on the other hand, was fortunate to spend most of February, March, and April in Lexington, with only 1 week during March in Port-au-Prince and 2 weeks during May in the slums of New Delhi with 12 University of Kentucky students (completing in a service-learning project with Habitat for Humanity India). It was not until June that I, along with our two dogs Ralph and Lucy, transitioned to Haiti more “full time” or at least as close to full time as risk management allow. Security challenges abound in Port-au-Prince, where there is at least one kidnapping a day and we have two armed guards at our house around the clock.
However, we DO have a lovely, mountain-side home in the Port-au-Prince suburb of Petion-Ville—a home Sara’s left for only brief visits to the US and one longer trip to the Pacific Northwest, where we enjoyed 2 days in Seattle and a week with 12 other friends on Whidbey Island—a fabulous time of fun, feasting, and fellowship with a group of women we dearly love.
And though we feel fairly well-settled in Port-au-Prince by now, settled enough to have hosted a sit-down Thanksgiving dinner for 24, Haiti itself is far from peaceful this Holiday Season. Not only did the earthquake last January kill close to a quarter of a million, but it has left, still 11 months later, more than 1.3 million people homeless in the city of Port-au-Prince alone. Not only did the Haitian people suffer destruction again in the wake of Hurricane Tomas, but they are continuing to fight a cholera epidemic that has killed and sickened thousands more. Not only did they face fraudulent presidential elections last month—they have dealt with the resulting social unrest, especially in the form of rioting by people who have suffered unimaginable losses in the last year, people who feel disenfranchised not only by the international community, but also by their own political leaders who would steal their right to a free and fair election. It’s sad for us to see so much loss and suffering in such close proximity to our own lives of comfort, surplus, and blessing.
Despite all of this, however, the Haitian people are strong. They are resilient. They persevere. Sara and I are proud to call the beautiful people of this tiny island our neighbors, our friends, our family, and we would ask you to not only pray for us this Christmas, but more importantly to keep our new Haitian brothers and sisters in your hearts and prayers, as well.
As the mountains that circle Port-au-Prince brighten on Christmas morning, the Haitian people will be left with little to do but pray—
But we ask that you too pray for peace in Port-au-Prince streets—for peace in those mountains beyond—those mountains beyond mountains—
Please pray those hills would be alive with the sound of peaceful music–
A peace that passes understanding–
May God bring peace to you and your family this Holiday Season!
May God bring peace to Haiti!
With blessings from Port-au-Prince,
Sara and Kathy