Saturday, November 20, 2010

Change of Plans

I received a disturbing email from the volunteer coordinator the other night.  It stated that the organization was requesting I postpone my trip.  They had just gotten notification from the US Embassy that there was a new travel advisory for Port Au Prince.  Due to the increased violence in the area, it has been deemed unsafe for me to enter the area.

Many Haitians are upset and are holding the UN responsible for the recent outbreak of Cholera.  They have started burning trash to in the middle of roads to serve as barricades.  When aid workers exit their vehicles at the barricades, they sometimes have rocks thrown at them with gunshots heard in the background. The Haitian police force is attempting to control the crowds with tear gas, only to have the crowds regroup with even more protesters.  

In addition to these riots, I was scheduled to arrive in Port Au Prince on the Haiti Election Day.  As I'm sure most of you know, elections in undeveloped countries are often unpredictable. Many locals are very upset with current conditions and very well could chose voting day as the day to make their statement.

Although, every ounce of my heart desires to be in Port Au Prince helping the thousands of people affected by the Cholera outbreak, I have made the decision to not travel at this time.  I have two beautiful boys and I cannot justify the risk of traveling at this time.  I had been following these developments for a week or so and was struggling with a decision.  It was a small relief to get the email from both the organization and US government asking me stay home.  However, it doesn't make my heart hurt any less.

I have yet to get an answer from the airlines about my ticket.  If the US Embassy releases an official "No Travel Advisory", my ticket should be refunded.  However, as of now, the Embassy has only released a "Warden's Message" and the airlines view not traveling as the equivalent of cancelling my ticket.  If they allow me to switch dates, there is a chance I will leave for Haiti the end of January..  That trip, of course, is dependent on many things, including being able to get off work and the stability of Haiti.  If it all falls into place, I will gladly be on my way. 

Until then, I am glued to the news for updates.  It is unbearable for me to see all those suffering and feel completely spoiled sitting on my couch in front of my big screen HDTV, but at the same time, unavoidable.  I have been unable to sleep, for when I close my eyes, the beautiful, yet suffering, Haitian faces confront me. 

I am also haunted with the fact that I was originally scheduled to arrive in Haiti earlier this week.  The moment before I booked my ticket, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of anxiety and decided to push my departure date back a few weeks. I wasn't comfortable leaving so soon and just had a gut feeling that it wasn't feasible.  I have never been so happy that I listened to my gut and booked my trip for the end of November.  If I hadn't, it is highly likely that I would be unable to return home from Haiti.  I easily could have been ordered to stay in the tent city and not take the risk of traveling to the Port Au Prince airport.  Thank God I am safe and sound at home and I am praying with every ounce of my being that God grants Haiti citizens the same grace he has shown me.  

God Bless

No comments:

Post a Comment