|Br. Kramer Cameron LC with fellow Haiti missionaries, who just happen to be his sisters, Paulette (left) and Josefa.|
Following is the testimony of Br. Kramer Cameron LC on
his experience working with Mission Youth in Haiti this summer.
morning in Haiti, I went with my friend Nameer to
a place called the Wounds Clinic.
We drove with the
Missionaries of Charity sisters. We were crammed in a van
and sped along. The sisters prayed the rosary out loud,
as we dodged traffic and honked the horn through the
crazy streets of Porte au Prince. We drove up to
a gate. Passing through the gate we entered an open
area with an outdoor Church on our left. We got
out of the van and went through another gate on
our right only to find a small courtyard that was
pretty empty. We were led to the end of the
courtyard to still another gate.
All of the gates gave witness
to the fact that we were right beside the roughest
part of Haiti. As it opened, I stood in awe.
I saw a narrow area about as long as a
basketball court. Within were grey cement ledges on either side
packed with people: old and young, men and women, boys
and girls. I ended up in a large side room
also packed with people. All in all there were probably
some three hundred people. And they were all there for
medicine, or to get their wounds looked at and treated.
were so many people and so many needs. I wanted
to help out with the wounds because I knew it
would challenge me, but by circumstance found myself helping with
the medicines. For a while we mixed water with powdered
medicine and placed the containers on the table. When the
medicine preparation slowed down, I made my way over to
the room where they were treating the wounds. These were
no little bumps and bruises; they were gouges and holes
One American woman who had lived in Haiti for
four years and volunteered her time to help out with
the Missionaries of Charity on Saturdays, invited me to help
her. She was taking care of the patients on a
hospital-like bed – she seemed to have the worst cases.
The first guy I helped her with had a huge
open wound across his chest. It was about three inches
wide and stretched from one collar bone to the other.
It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever
had to look at.
She immediately got me involved in the
process of treating him. It was bad… his dark skin
folded over into the open blood-red wound. Much of the
skin was gone, and I saw what I think was
his muscle. She treated him, and I did what she
asked. I held his hand as he suffered in pain.
Everyone getting their wounds treated was suffering and in pain.
at the Wounds Clinic that day was a heart wrenching
experience of suffering – of God suffering in people. At
the same time it was a heart-filling experience of touching
Post Haiti Reflections
Since my experience in Haiti I have
been thinking -- their needs are so tangible. One baby
needs her diaper changed. Another needs a cup of water.
Another needs to be held, since his mother is not
around. The man in the hospital with sores all over
his body who looks like he had been on fire
needs to be accompanied, prayed with and for his hand
to be held. The lady with a huge wound on
her leg needs it to be cleaned and covered with
antibacterial anointment and wrapped again.
Jesus says, “Whatever you do to
the least of my brothers, you do to Me.” And
touching and loving God in Haiti is so easy because
the needs are known – the needs are in your
Conversations I had with a few young people in Haiti
and since I’ve returned home reveal that for some reason,
it’s harder to love at home and in our normal
surroundings than in Haiti. Why? Here are a few probable
In our first-world countries, we wear so many masks. We
dress ourselves up, put on makeup, take drugs to “medicate”
ourselves, and are addicted to so many things. We have
so many things, and we buy more. We consume so
much of what we are “fed.”
We surround ourselves with glamour
and glitter and sometimes the ones who appear to be
the greatest “kings” are the ones who are suffering the
most. Consider these words from the late singer, Michael Jackson:
"People think they know me, but they don´t. Not really.
Actually, I am one of the loneliest people on this
earth. I cry sometimes, because it hurts. It does. To
be honest, I guess you could say that it hurts
to be me."
Here I think it is even harder to
love because it’s harder to break down the barriers that
we build up around ourselves. We are so busy, getting
things done, making more money, being more successful. It’s hard
to take the time to realize that the people around
us are suffering and in need.
We can be in line
with others at the coffee shop and be more like
individuals trapped in walls placed side-by-side, unaware of our different
personalities and needs. It’s like here we are walled in,
and we think we like it that way. It’s like
we are trapped in concentration camps of selfishness.
It’s almost impossible
to know what one another’s needs are, even among our
People who have gone to Haiti often say the
hardest thing about going to Haiti is coming back. I
was extra attentive as I flew back into Atlanta. On
my flight I was so eager to meet the needs
of those around me. I sat beside a young girl.
As soon as I did she quickly tried to untangle
her headphones and shove them in her ears – I
didn’t even get to say a word to her until
nearly the end of the flight.
How can you know if
someone is suffering if we don’t even talk to each
other? How are we supposed to help others who don’t
express their needs?
When I landed in Atlanta and waited at
my gate, I sat beside a sports bar. In Haiti,
just hours earlier, I was with people whose stomachs are
bloated. At the bar, men and women sit around eating
all they want, on individual bar stools, facing the counter.
They drink and drink and drink, consumed by alcohol and
by the TV screens in front of them. They watch
celebrities, golf, football training, tennis, advertisements selling products to make
your hair grow back, vacations and cruises.
Were any of the
people sitting there suffering? Who isn’t? Maybe their needs are
greater and deeper than the needs of those in Haiti,
but I will never know. Maybe someone is considering suicide,
another’s parents are getting divorced, another is addicted to heroin
and another has been abused. Who knows?
I realize we must
go out of our way, out of our comfort zone
and take the time to find out the needs of
those around us. I challenge myself, and all, to go
out of our way to discover others sufferings and needs.
I present the challenge to tear down our own walls
of selfishness and reach out to those around us who
are also trapped. I present the challenge to make ourselves
vulnerable in a healthy way, and let down our walls
and tell those around us what we need.
|A young girl smiles as, in the background, Mission Youth missionaries serve.|