I've followed the news these past days with the perspective of somebody who has lived in and visited Haiti.
The people I've known there are gracious, kind, and enduring in a way we could never imagine.
My family lived in Haiti when I was a child. My dad was teaching there.
We were welcomed as if we had always been there. My sister and I went to a Haitian school. No one ever made us feel "different."
Many years later I went back to Haiti as an adult. I was able to reconnect with one of my teachers. She had survived the earthquake. Many others did not.
I traveled with a group of volunteers helping to build houses with Habitat for Humanity.
Three years after the earthquake, more than 200,000 survivors were still living on muddy streets, or under tarps at best. Children. Babies. Families who lost what little they had.
I met a man named Chery. We worked side by side every day. He’d lost his leg from an injury in the earthquake. He’s lived under a tent ever since. I watched him joyfully and carefully help build his 500-foot home on a prosthetic that did not fit. I never once heard him complain about his health or housing. He never complained about anything. He was purely grateful.
A woman would sit in front of her shelter of pieces of wood and blue plastic tarps and talk with me every day. She ended up giving me a gift.
These are the people I’m thinking about.
In my experience, I saw kindness, gratefulness and resilience while facing conditions and circumstances we cannot imagine and they cannot control.
To me, that is beauty.
I'm grateful I had the opportunity to experience it.
- Cheryl Preheim