Last year a number of people in the L’Arche Greater Vancouver community responded to the needs of our sister community in Haiti with a financial contribution which we sent off to L’Arche Canada for delivery. We recently received this letter from our friends in Haiti giving us an update on their current situation:
I confess to you: It is not easy for me to revisit the tragedy of the earthquake that struck Haiti and our community, L’Arche Carrefour – the tragedy that so completely disrupted our lives, our habits, and the daily lives. It is like reliving moments of grieving and collapse, stirring up wounds that are still fresh, picking at sores that have not yet healed. But the work of remembering must, without a doubt, push through our hesitations!
When we contemplate the road that L’Arche has walked since that day, we will hold on to three things above all: first, of course, the catastrophe, the chaos, its immediate effects on the core members living our communities; second, picking up the pieces, in solidarity, in thanksgiving that we all – or almost all – were still alive; third, rebuilding in hope.
The catastrophe, the chaos: We did not expect it, and we were left amidst the rubble: Ismael, Jean-Robert, Moise, Ti Francoise, Esther, and everyone else living out in the open, then under tents provided by Canadian soldiers, sent by none other than Jean Vanier himself. Meanwhile, the departure from Carrefour, and the loving welcome to Chantal, of eight of our most fragile members and four assistants, under Jonathan’s dynamic and clear-thinking leadership. In the days and months that followed, the community was threatened by rain and wind coming in force in their season. We were conscious of the possible return of seismic tremors (some rumours were true, some false), the fight to create a viable daily life, with almost one hundred neighbours who had taken refuge on our property, the news of the dead and the injured, and powerlessness of the public powers. We cried bitterly over the deaths of Marie-Cecile and Schella, two active members of our community.
Picking up the pieces, in solidarity: Bruised and uneasy, we confronted reality: Jacqueline, the Community Leader at the helm, shaken, but effective in the face of the needs and hazards of daily life. She is supported by Isabelle Robert, the coordinator assigned to Haiti, whose frequent visits bring support, comfort, and news of the intentions of L’ Arche Canada, which, along with L’Arche International mobilized from the very beginning to get solidarity efforts underway. Messages of friendship from the Federation came daily, restoring and maintaining our sense of being part of a big family. The arrival of Jean-Christophe in Port-au-Prince brought aid and comfort as we worked to clarify our vision of the future of L’Arche. Jocelyne Mercier, the new President of our Board of Directors is committed and has thrown herself into this difficult mission: on the agenda, establishment of a new office and preparation for the construction of temporary shelters.
Between chaos and peace comes the time for rebuilding in hope: a new life is making itself known, the first re-building blocks were placed in July; the wounds are there, but Aby allowed us to put words of healing on them. We talk about beginning anew, and our projects take shape, even if our friends are still living under tents.
“C’est la nuit qu’il est beau de croire en la lumière.” Roughly translated, this means that during the night, it is good to believe in the light. Outside, around us, the city and the Haitian people live under the ashes, inundated by humanitarian aid, waiting for the fulfillment of promises yet to be realized. But L’Arche is riding high and is well on its way in the reconstruction efforts. Initiatives are multiplying and things are moving forward.
It would be hard to identify everyone we should thank, everyone who has contributed to this renewal, to this new hope: we hope that each and every one might recognize in these lines our immense gratitude, and our firm determination to seek relentlessly – even in the midst of our moments of doubt and questioning – the true, the beautiful, the only mission: to love.
Once again, thank you for your support. Please do not hesitate to write us, and to check on us regularly on our Profile page on the Meeting Ground at http://archedev.org/fr/profile/larche_haiti
Evelyne Bazin Verdier