Going to Haiti: First Impressions

By UUA International Resources


The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is excited to be partnering with the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) on a joint volunteer trip to Haiti for seminarians, May 24-31. In the post below, participant Norm Horofker shares his thoughts on the journey. Sometimes, particularly when time is limited, you find yourself making judgments based on first impressions of people. Last night and most of today, we were in the company of Father Chavannes (the title is honorific). Father Chavannes founded the Papaye Peasant Movement (MPP) in 1973.

 He spoke to us in broken English and through a translator. His voice is rich and deep, and he is quick to laugh. After dinner last night, Father Chavannes told us of the early days of his work. He spoke with passion about the challenge of dealing with the fatalism and superstition of the peasants. If the crops failed because of lack of rain, it was God's will. Irrigation, for example, was an attempt to circumvent the will of God and was thus pointless. The problems we are witnessing — the poverty, the people displaced by the earthquake, the lack of infrastructure — are overwhelming. But today we traveled with Father Chavannes and heard in detail about his irrigation projects and sustainable gardening.

Later, we met two families displaced by the earthquake who will be moving into the houses that we were helping to build.

The impression of the projects and the sincerity and power of Father Chavannes made a strong impression. Father Chavannes is doing God's work. I have no doubt that first impressions will be validated.

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