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Martha St Jean Headshot

It Is Time for Haiti

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It is time. Before I went to Haiti, I slumbered. My sleep was sweet to me. I did not know there was a need for awakening. It's time. Time to get up. Time to rise. Time to shine. Time to do something. Not anything -- something. The urgency, for people, for humanity, was not as pressing in my mind or soul before I went to Haiti. Here in America, forgetfulness is beginning to take hold. We think things are being taken care of because money has exchanged hands and been debited from accounts. We think something is being done because we have dutifully written checks for those poor, miserable Haitian people. We think we have done something, allow me to tell you there is still more to be done.

I woke up in Haiti, to the sounds of the earth. The rooster crowing, people singing hymns at the four a.m. church service down the road, and sounds of darkness. Darkness has a sound in Haiti. It has a pulse. It is alive and dead. It contradicts itself. In Haiti, one witnesses the overcoming power of light. The unbearable lightness of a word, deed, smile or in the easy laugh of my companions as they treated children in the medical clinic.

Laughter accompanies tears in Haiti. In Ayiti, the place of my parents birth, I was born anew. Born to the possibility of restoring the places long forsaken, born anew to grace, gentleness, and mercy. In Haiti, I was receptive to the heritage of wonder that has been passed down to me. My time in Haiti was not only about the diseases among the people, even though I went as part of a healing mission. My time in Haiti was not only about the physical hunger the people are experiencing -- even though I saw a baby so malnourished that the roots of her hair are white.

It is time for sackcloth and ashes. It is time to mourn the devastating loss of humanity in Haiti. It is time to mourn the fact that people are living in tents with mud as their floors that we would not allow our precious Park Avenue poodles to step in. It is time for the people to regain their privacy. It is time for publicity. It is time for us to demand that something be done. It is time.

Shed tears for Haiti. Shed tears this Thanksgiving. Shed tears for the young. Shed tears for the old. Shed tears. Though I speak of the destruction I witnessed, I know that there is coming joy. I know there is a day roads will be fixed and the streets surrounding Champ des Mars will be drained of its polluted waters. Joy chases sorrow. One day joy shall overcome sorrow. Shed tears.

It is time. It is time for tears to be shed. It is time for something to be done. It is time for Red Cross and other aid agencies, which took money to help to do something in the tent cities that have a few hundred to a few thousand people. Where are they? It is time to let our light penetrate the darkness; it is time to wake up. It is time to rise. Now is the time to shine forth in Haiti. Now is the time to do something. Not anything -- something. Now.