No one can deny that the people of Haiti have had–only barely metaphorically–one hell of a year.

Ten months after an earthquake that many Haitians heralded as an apocalyptic warning, the country was hit with a cholera epidemic for which it was not at all prepared.  In the midst of this unprecedented illness, Haiti’s citizens experienced riots and roadblocks in the wake of disputed presidential elections.

One night at the cholera treatment center, I saw a baby born for the first time. It was a special reminder of life and hope amidst a place of sickness and death.

On my recent trip to Haiti, I experienced, in some way at least, the repercussions of each of these major events.

Even though I saw plenty in Haiti that made me sad, I will always remember it as being a beautiful country filled with generous people.

I saw the sprawling tent cities which, in many cases, are becoming more permanent rather than being dismantled; I worked in a cholera clinic; and I saw the lines of election posters, heard the pre-election rumors, and experienced the frustration of people stuck in the post-election roadblocks.

In Petionville, I spent time observing the Haitian Community Hospital, an institution whose staff and community gave so much after the earthquake that it nearly had to close.  Then I traveled to Limbe to learn about cholera at the Ebenezer Clinic.

I left Haiti surprised by a plethora of delightful encounters that exceeded my expectations. I discovered that the Haitians’ persevering hope is contagious. And I was emboldened by their overall attitude.

In the end, I realized that if the Haitian people can hold onto hope in the face of an uncertain new year, so can I.

Uncertain Plans

Who knew that it could be more nerve-wracking to visit your country’s backyard than to move to the other side of the world?

Click here to read this travel journal…

Change from Within

Like the grass on once trampled ground, Haiti now has a chance to grow.

Click here to read this article…

Photo Gallery: Speechless

My first few days in Ebenezer Clinic’s cholera treatment unit left me too stunned to write, but awestruck by the heart of the clinic and its staff in the face of crisis.

Click here to see this photo gallery…

Surprised by Joy

I have been surprised to find joy amidst the sadness and death of a cholera ward.

Click here to read this article…

A Different Kind of Hero

Even now that I am home, I remember the Haitians I met who are still sacrificing for their people.

Click here to read this article…

Photo Gallery: The Other Haiti

We’ve all seen pictures that depict Haiti’s problems, but there’s another side to the story.

Click here to see this photo gallery…

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About the Author: Calah Schlabach is a freelance journalist with World Next Door. She graduated from Calvin College in 2009 with a degree in English and a concentration in long-distance running, then spent a year volunteering in Hanoi, Vietnam. She doesn't know what the next turn her life will be, but is planning to make sure it includes sampling plenty of strange/delicious food!

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Comments

  1. Jessica said... 

    Reply

    February 9th, 2011 at 9:23 am  

    Calah, I’m glad you had this opportunity to experience so many sides of Haiti…and that you took us along with you! The cholera crisis, and the people fighting it, were much more real to me thanks to these stories. I’m looking forward to seeing where this new hope you’ve gained will take you!

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