#2: A Harrowing Day on the Roads

Trip co-leader Mike Carpenter warned us at Tuesday night’s evening reflection that if something is going to go wrong during our time in Haiti, it’ll happen on Wednesday. He was right and wrong.

The day started with a visit to MPP’s schoolhouse, which was expanded in the past year with a generous gift from the Unitarian Society of Germantown. We helped with the grounds and met the children, who were full of wonder, then headed to our vehicles.

And that’s when Wednesday struck.

This is the second of three posts about a service trip to Haiti Jan. 9-16, 2016.

On the road back, we came upon an accident. A motorbike with a passenger clipped a boy crossing the road. The boy was lying still where he fell, and the bike fell over too. One of the young men limped off the road.

Our caravan stopped and two members of the group jumped out to aid the boy. Monica Perme and Nuala Carpenter are a nurse and retired physical therapist, respectively, and cared for the boy, while the boy’s father and others incited a loud, angry argument over who was to blame for the accident. The argument howled above the boy, Monica and Nuala.

Amidst the furor, the boy regained consciousness.

Eventually Monica, Nuala, the two injured Haitians and the boy’s mom went to the hospital in one vehicle, and the rest of us headed home in the other two.

So often we ask ourselves why we’re in a place like Haiti. It’s not an easy question. Today we knew. We weren’t there intending to help in this situation; we were just there. We have no way of knowing if what we did prevented something worse, though it kind of felt like it did. What we do know is that at a terrible time in a young boy’s life, when he was surrounded by confusion, and anger, and noise, he received compassion and skilled care and he was delivered safely to more care.

The reflection this evening centered on that event, and several other out-of-leftfield experiences that seem to happen more here than at home. And on the joy that comes with doing this work of living together.


It included Monica remembering something that one of the youth, Julia MacDonald, said while gathering rocks to clear a space for a playground at the school what seemed like a lifetime earlier. Julia said, “I wish I had bigger hands to help.”

May all of us have the hands and hearts to help, wherever and whenever we’re needed in this world that so often confounds our plans.


Other posts from this 2016 trip:

#1: A Whirlwind Start

#3: Homecoming

Our Trip in 59 Photos

And from the 2014 trip, My Favorite 17 Photos from Haiti

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