Tonight we sat in a debriefing – separate to the sharing of stories, I think as well it's good to share some of the struggle and questions we're left with. Fellow team member david hayward has written beautifully on it – when it comes to trying to discern trustworthiness among the leaders here. Tonight we talked at length about how broken Haiti really is and how long it's been that way. Many people outside the Caribbean, Canada or the United States have probably never really heard more about Haiti than it's supposed pact with the Devil and it's poverty before the earthquake. But truth be told – walking and driving around the island today is watching much more than the devastation of just the earthquake.

Somebody today said that the truth is, Haiti is the least cared about nation of the Western hemisphere. It reminds me a lot of my time in Fiji – where people build homes room by room, first with iron and beaten down oil drums, as they purchase concrete blocks one by one, however many a week they can afford. The shanty towns you see all over the island of Fiji are similar to the some of the tents set up, but you can see similar construction ideas in the homes left standing or partially destroyed by the quakes. They were never built to survive a quake like this one and as someone said today, one good shake more and the rest of the place would come down. But it could be paradise. The way the sunsets, the curve of the main bay, the magnificence of the mountains. The sway of palm trees, the glorious heat. In my heart, I think hope is a big factor. I think circumstance and luck have a lot to do with it. Care and concern makes a difference too. When someone has hope, care and concern for you, it changes the view you have on life. It changes the view you have of purpose. It changes the way you live.

For a nation to live with such hopelessness for so long, with so little change affected – no wonder it's more like Hades than Paradis. They've been forgotten, used as an economic dumpground and been un-led for decades.

Another team member bruce dawson blogged today "A lot of things happen in Haiti for lack of choices.." and I think it's true. Long-term corruption at government levels means that much monetary aid given over the last decades hasn't seen much go on in the way of development. The roads and infrastructure are generally pretty bad. The economy is decimated. No matter how far back you take it, the people here have been ground down into a dependency cycle, yet have a government that provides little to no security. In addition to that, it seems that aid organizations that have previously been on the ground have struggled with similar issues of networking, communication and trust. The people simply don't have many other choices. It changes the way you live.

So the answer has to begin with relationships. Nothing outside of relationship can build trust, either between external parties and Haitians or amongst the Haitian people themselves. No one factor can make the difference – except that the earthquake is potentially a game-changer only if somehow it can be seen as such (as doug pagitt would say). I believe relationships can change that. People partnering with other people for the best possible outcome.

I remember being in Fiji watching a game of tennis on one side of the treeline, where there was a village/shanty town built of corrugated iron on the other side. This kind of poverty exists in so many places. We have to do what we can in Haiti and learn what we can in Haiti, so that Haiti doesn't become a story we retell, when it comes to development, aid, mission work – you name it. I'm going to have to write more about that later.

Also, you should check out the blogs of the other team members

ed noble
seth barnes
mark oestreicher

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Posted via email from Tash McGill