For a week in mid-September (2014) I was in Haiti. I’ve been digesting my experience bit by bit here on my blog. You can find the whole series of Snapshots here.
There’s a story in Luke 13 of a woman who had been bent over double for eighteen years. Eighteen. It says she couldn’t even straighten up at all. Jesus sets her free, healing her on the Sabbath, which puts the people all up in arms. As they’re arguing and telling Him what He did was wrong, the woman, now standing straight, is praising God.
I’ve tried to imagine myself in her place many times. Only being able to look at the ground. Seeing other people’s feet instead of meeting their eyes. Unable to help with even menial tasks. A burden to society, with no end in sight. Washed up. Unwanted.
Often in a country as poor as Haiti, the older people are uncared for. Their families simply cannot support them…. or won’t support them. They are bent over double, so to speak. They have nothing left to offer their families. They’ve lived incredibly hard lives, harder than we can ever imagine. They’ve gone hungry more times than they can remember. They’ve held their babies as hurricane waters sweep through their homes, standing to keep little bodies above the water. They’ve sent their children to gather water while they sweep their front stoop over and over, taking pride in their home and their country. They’ve worked when they can, doing whatever it takes to keep their families alive and their children educated.
There aren’t many older people in Haiti. In a country with so many diseases and so much hardship, life expectancy simply isn’t that high. So when we were able to visit the Grand Moun house, I knew I was seeing something I’d never forget. These precious people were being cared for and they did not take it for granted. They spend their days in rocking chairs, looking out at the mountains, singing and building a community. Their beds are thin mattresses on cement blocks, their possessions in small sacks piled at the foot of the bed.
And yet, at an age where most are turned away, they have been given dignity. Jesus has lifted them up and they are no longer bent over double.
(The Gran Moun House is part of the Northwest Haiti Christian Mission)