People always say that you're not supposed to question God. But after what I've seen on television and on the Internet in Haiti this past week, it's hard not to.
It has been very difficult to watch: limbs sticking out of crumbled buildings, mothers mourning the death of all of their children, husbands carrying the bodies of their dead wives, children alone living on the street now orphans, parents pleading for help in finding their children, mass graves of unidentified and unrecognizable victims, and the hundreds of web pages of missing people on CNN's iReport. The devastation is overwhelming and seems unfair, especially for a country that was still picking up the pieces from the 2008 hurricane.
There's so much despair, so much pain. Last night, a child was getting her leg amputated so she could be removed from the rubble. She kept crying "God, why have you forsaken us?" It brought tears to my eyes. I felt so helpless watching the girl and others like her suffer from the view of my living room. It brings me back to the question, why?
It has been said that in the worst of times is when you see God move. I can say that I have seen miracles this week. Despite hearing all of the heartbreaking stories, it has been amazing and refreshing to see people being pulled from the rubble alive after being trapped for seven days without food or water. I read a personal story from a doctor who said he saw and attended to patients who had injuries so bad that they should have died. Despite losing their homes, family members and way of life, so many people are still strong in their faith. One girl who lost everything, but a bible, said she was just thankful to be alive. It has also been gratifying to see so many Americans who are suffering from financial hardships opening up their wallets and their hearts to give.
From Miami, Haiti is a short one hour flight. But its close proximity is the only thing America and Haiti have in common. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, where most of its citizens live on less than $2 a day. Five percent of the population is affected by HIV. In 2003, the life expectancy for a Haitian male was just 43 years old. Since 2007, it has jumped to 59 years. Fifty percent of the population is illiterate. The country has been plagued with poor leadership and impoverished conditions. As you can see, Haiti has been suffering well-before the earthquake. My hope is that over time, communities will be able to rebuild more stable homes and buildings, parents who lost their children can one day smile again and orphans find love and a permanent residence with willing strangers. With so many donations pouring in, hopefully this country can get a fresh start. I just wish so many Haitians didn't have to lose their lives for people to pay attention to their plight.
This past year was a difficult one for my husband and me. We had a lot of setbacks. I did a lot of moping around questioning God about my purpose in life and worrying about my finances and health. But in the end, I'm blessed. Tonight, I will be going to sleep in a bed in a house that my husband and I own, while many Haitians will be sleeping on the street. Our bank account is looking light these days and our clothes are beginning to look worn, but we have enough money to cover our basic living expenses and pay our bills, while many Haitians are left with no money and wearing just the clothes on their backs. It's hard to complain about having to cut back on my grocery shopping expenses at Whole Foods (an organic and pricey grocery store) when you see people in Haiti fighting for a small package with one biscuit in it. One survivor said she hasn't eaten since January 12 because no aid has gotten to her area. Hurricane Katrina and September 11th were both dark, devastating chapters in American history, but this country has never dealt with a tragedy of this magnitude all at one time. Even when tragedy happens in America, we have the resources to rescue and help people. In Haiti, many people were using objects from the street to free loved ones until rescue crews from other countries came to their aid. Here in the U.S., we have our problems, but compared to Haiti, even the poorest Americans are living much better. Our least fortunate citizens are provided health care, housing, money for food and necessities when they do not have the means to do so. America is blessed.
This past week I have learned one valuable lesson: to be thankful. In the end, instead of questioning, I will be thankful for life, a roof over my head, family and friends and having the means to send money to help with relieve efforts.
DeShuna Spencer is owner of Liu Karama Productions and editorial director of emPower magazine. She can be reached at editorial@emPowernewsmag.com.