Thinking About Earthquakes in Haiti

The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is partnering with the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) on a joint volunteer trip to Haiti, April 28–May 5, 2012. In the post below, trip participant Orelia Busch reflects on tiny movements and cataclysmic earthquakes. The UUSC-UUA Haiti Volunteer Program is made possible through the contributions of UUA and UUSC donors and a generous grant from the Veatch Program of the UU Congregation at Shelter Rock, in Manhasset, N.Y. [vimeo 41415594] Since our arrival in Haiti last Saturday, I have experienced moments that I can only describe as touch points, when my whole body responds to something I have seen or heard with a tingle or a shiver in the core of my being. On the drive north from Port-au-Prince through the mountains, we waited for the drivers to fix a flat tire on the side of the busy road. Haitians dressed up brightly and sharply for church passed by our car windows, and we talked about earthquakes. Someone said that the tiniest movement deep within the earth creates what we experience on the planet's surface as a cataclysm that can wreak unbelievable destruction and chaos. One of the trip leaders told us that she didn't really understand the full impact of the earthquake until she witnessed that not only had it destroyed lives and homes, but it also left cracks in the earth that changed the pattern of the very rivers that feed the farms and the people of Haiti. I think about earthquakes as I feel something stir in me and muddle through my own reflections on the sensory and new-experience overload of beauty and hardness that I see in Haiti. I think about earthquakes when I listen to Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, our host and leader of the Papaye Peasant Movement, describe his dreams for Haiti. He is working with 60,000 others all over this country to build a nation where the divisions that keep neighbors from working together are no more; where all people have enough healthy, locally produced food to sustain their families; and where neighbors work together to educate themselves, better their lives, and preserve the environment for future generations. I think about earthquakes and I believe that each small motion towards sustainability and self-determination in Haiti could have such great positive impact in the future. I think about earthquakes, I feel those shivers and tingles at my core, and I wonder what new channels, cracks, and ways of being and seeing that this experience will forge within me.