Beyond tragedy: day-to-day suffering in Haiti

By January 30, 2017

Haiti (MNN) — Why does it take a tragedy to get the world’s attention? Well, the answer to that is there’s often a limit to the compassion of a human being. With so much going on, it takes something extreme to catch the attention of those who could help.

(Photo courtesy of For Haiti with Love).

(Photo courtesy of For Haiti with Love)

Perhaps the best example of this is Haiti. The country is in a constant state of human suffering, and yet things aren’t getting any better. People usually only tune in immediately following the latest natural disaster.

We spoke with Eva DeHart of For Haiti with Love to get her perspective.

“It seems almost like the world is desensitized to human suffering,” she says, “I don’t know whether it has been shared with them in different ways too much over the years that they just kind of look at it and go, ‘ho-hum, it doesn’t affect me.’

“But it’s been that way for the 40 years that we’ve worked in Haiti. When something tragic happens that kills thousands of people, then the world looks at this poor little country and tries to help it for a while. And then something happens in another part of the world and they’re off and running in another direction and they never look back.”

In other words, she explains, it’s just difficult to keep people’s attention. And even when help does come, it’s usually short-lived and unsustainable.

But if the average person has trouble maintaining a heart for some cause or tragedy, how do ministries inundated with sorrowful stories keep the passion they have for people from fading?

Perhaps we need to ask a different question, first. Why does it matter if we help these people? For DeHart, it’s as simple as being a good neighbor — something Jesus himself taught us to practice.

“Haiti is so close to us. They’re our neighbors, for goodness sake. They’re right in our backyard. I’m sitting in Florida and the people in Haiti are closer to me than the people in Chicago. That kind of poverty and that kind of suffering just shouldn’t be allowed to exist at our back door.”

Her drive to keep going comes from a combination of success stories and the strength she asks God for.

You see, For Haiti with Love runs a burn clinic in Cap Haitian along the northern coast. In addition, they have a food program and aid with other various needs in the community.

She not only walks, but can ride her bike! (Photo courtesy of For Haiti with Love).

She not only walks, but can ride her bike! (Photo courtesy of For Haiti with Love)

The numbers of burn victims that come through their clinic is astonishing and often overwhelming. Recently, one young girl they cared for was sent to Boston for special treatment. Her burn wounds had become so bad that they were crippling her.

DeHart says this little girl can now walk again. Her story, like many others, ends with a joyous healing.

This, DeHart says, is ministry fuel.

“You watch the excruciating pain when they first come in the door, and then their joy of being pain-free and healing after that final visit. It’s one person at a time, one patient at a time, one starving little old grandma at a time where you can give her food and see the joy on her face of being able to eat. You’ve just got to focus on those times when you succeed and thank God and ask for the courage and the strength to keep going.”

A recent development for the Cap Haitian burn clinic is the growing number of children who are coming in with full body burns.

(Photo courtesy of For Haiti with Love)

(Photo courtesy of For Haiti with Love)

DeHart explains, “These children are claiming to have access to TV, but they come in now with full body burns and they are literally following examples of some sort of tricks that they’re seeing on TV or YouTube or wherever they’re getting it and experimenting with gasoline and matches.”

She shares how one little boy spit gasoline onto a match towards his friend to see if he could outrun it. The boy was severely burned. Another boy poured gasoline on his legs and set himself on fire.

It could be that they are seeing YouTube videos on the “fire challenge” — a phenomenon that has caused deaths and hospital stays for many in the last couple of years.

Whatever the cause is, For Haiti with Love is working with the local media to try and get warnings out to parents about the dangers of letting their children watch television and other media without supervision of some sort.

But as with every need that arises, For Haiti with Love is responding in compassionate care. You can help support them.

First, will you pray for protection over the children in Haiti? Ask God to keep them from whatever influence has been causing these other children to play with fire. Additionally, pray for the ministry to be an effective impact for the Gospel in this area.

DeHart says, “With every pain, with every suffering situation, there is an opening to share God’s love.”

If you’d like to support them financially to keep their feeding programs and burn aid going, click here for more information.

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