By Sarah Ruddle; co-founder
In our everyday lives we just reach into our pockets and snap a quick picture on our phones anytime we want to document something. We share pictures in text messages, share real time views via Facetime, and then proceed to post pictures of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We “like” pictures on Social Media, laugh at cute memes of children, and even Photoshop our own pictures to make sure we are getting the right lighting and best possible angle. Pictures do a great job of offering the viewer a broad general idea of what we are viewing and of our experiences.
Pictures show the mischief in a child’s eyes, the sparkle in an elderly man’s smile, or even how perfectly melted pizza cheese is on a highly altered Instagram picture. A picture can also show you the tears streaming down a helpless mothers face as she cries holding her infant child who is starving to death, can vividly portrait a woman who is so frail she cannot stand up, and yet falls to her knees in gratitude when she received three small bags of rice and grain, and a casually snapped photograph catch children running around bare foot, laughing and teasing each other, and playing happily amongst piles and piles of rubble. And, one mere picture can show an entire nation devastated by natural disasters, and yet somehow still standing ….and standing with pride. The sights of Haiti can be captured in pictures; however, the pictures cannot even begin to accurately convey the poverty, the garbage, the heartache, the death, the tears, the laughter, and the never ending joy of these great people.
It is true, a picture is worth a thousand words, and I hope this one picture leaves every reader searching the dictionary for the accurate words, for my verbal thesaurus has run out of adequate adjectives to describe what I saw in Haiti recently. I saw a country that had clearly been recently devastated by two natural disasters. Every day I was there I saw people wait in 90 degree heat for hours, without complaint or gripe, in hopes they would be able to see a doctor that day. I saw these same people sleep in what used to be streets, on top of broken concrete, shattered buildings, mud puddles, and human waste, all in hopes of being seen by the doctors the next morning.
I saw parents weep uncontrollably as they held their dying children in their arms, begging a doctor to help cure an incurable illness. I saw doctors and nurses and other volunteers cry with these parents and proceed to work tirelessly around the clock, with no breaks or food, in order to treat as many people as possible. I saw children laughing and poking each other and siblings fighting and girls smiling at the boys they thought were cute, and could not help but smile myself at how universal humanity is. At the end of the day we are all just people. We all want our loved ones to be healthy and happy, we all want the cute boy/girl to notice us, we all long for human connection, we all laugh and cry and desperately seek out hope when we do not know what to do or where to turn. What I saw in Haiti was humanity at its best amidst an environment straight out hell.
My hope is when you look at this picture you do not feel sorry for the people of Haiti, rather you begin to think about the people of Haiti. That you begin to think about these people as you would think about your own family, friends, and even yourself. How would you survive in these living conditions? What would you do in order to get your children out of this situation? How desperate would you feel? What would give you hope each day?
My prayer is when each reader looks at this picture they truly look at it - with their eyes and heart, and that for a few minutes nothing matters but this picture and the reality people live like this daily. And it is my prayer someone viewing this picture will begin to pray for Haiti and the people who live there, for the countless aid workers from across the globe who sacrifice their time, money and talents to help others and you begin to pray about how YOU can help. Sure, we are not all called to help Haiti or anywhere overseas, but I do strongly believe we are all called to help humanity.
It is my hope, and prayer, whoever reads this, whoever is brave enough to stop and look at this picture and allows it to seep into their soul, also finds the courage to create a new way to make a difference. It is my hope that you can also see humanity at its best, even when all hope seems lost. After all, hope is never lost – sometimes we just need someone to help us find it again.