Wednesday, January 12, 2011

One Year and Many Memories Later: A Look Back to Haiti

Hey all, it's Tim, and it's hard for me to believe it's been one year since I went with Dyess crews to Haiti.


Even more, it's hard to believe that country is still digging up remains and rubble from that massive quake.

Yes, it was bad. Yes, the country has it's "problems."

But when you think of a year's time passing, you think things would be closer to "normal."

My heart breaks just thinking that people in need one year ago, still need help.

At the same time, my heart rejoices knowing that several friends of mine just returned from their trip to Haiti to do just that, help those who haven't been helped.

But back to the start of this blog, I really enjoyed my time as an embedded reporter with the Dyess crews. They were kind to accommodate a few local journalists, but even beyond that they were extremely flexible.

One of the bigger frustrations for us as the traveling media was the uncertainty of our trip. One hour we'd be given the green light, the next hour we'd be told it was called off.

It's hard to handle when the deadlines to produce content don't change! Plus, three days of the "go-no go" roller coaster ride wears on you physically and emotionally, especially when we just wanted to be in Haiti where the action was at!

After finally "getting there," (which I say in quotes because we never left the airports tarmac) it was humbling to see the destruction from the air, and even more to see the people leaving everything behind.

I recall sitting on a crowded C-130, with refugees all around, many sat expressionless and idle. I thought to myself, "Where's the relief, where's the joy to get out of such destruction?"
Then I looked at the back of the cargo, for the 50 or so refugees, there were maybe 20 pieces of luggage.
It hit me. They were leaving everything! There's no way all of their clothes and possessions packed up in just a suitcase. On top of that, you know this wasn't a scenario where you lock your front door and hope you turned off the coffee maker.

There was rioting. There was looting. There was no way their homes or lives would ever be the same!

Another observation I continue to carry with me from the plane ride was the sight of the little children. On the flight, we passed out bottles of water to everyone, with many more to spare.

Yet, I watched kids cherish these bottles of water, one even hid his bottle it under a blanket.

My heart sank. Here was something we had a full supply of and yet this was something he didn't know if it would last long enough. Now, I have stopped and considered maybe he wasn't thirsty, but studying his body language you could see he was protecting the bottle.

The last and biggest memory I carry with me from that plane flight, was the sight of our media contact, a sergeant in the Air Force ride for two hours from Haiti to Miami on the floor of the plane holding a man who was physically unstable.

He held his hand and consoled him, he helped him stay propped up during the flight, he even helped clean up after the man "spit up."

It was the single greatest act of kindness and love you could imagine, and a true testament as to why these men and women were making these aide missions.

When we landed in Miami, in one voice the men and women turned to everyone and thanked them saying, "Thank you to the United States Air Force."

I cannot even begin to imagine what life would've been like outside our C-130, in the streets, with rubble all around, but I know in our own "little world" there were many victories and moments that stand out, even one year later.

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