The sunrise in Haiti was especially hot. Our team of 39 of doctors, nurses, EMTs, and humanitarians had pitched our tents at the New Life Children’s home, an orphanage just a few minutes’ drive from the Port-au-Prince airport. The longtime director of the orphanage told me about the heartbreak of raising funds to educate the children, only to see the 7.0 earthquake that occurred on January 12 result in the cancellation of school for the year. The uniforms, books, buildings, and many of the teachers were gone.
As the saying goes, “With each sunrise we start anew.” How desperately that adage was needed here in post-quake Haiti. Fortunately, because my learning technologies degree is centered on concepts in philanthropy and social entrepreneurship, my professors allowed me to miss a week of schooling to join my church and use my skills as a videographer and paramedic to assist with crisis work such as distributing medical supplies and rebuilding. Just one month before the earthquake I had driven to Bakersfield in California to study one of my professor’s projects called Haitian Creations—an e-commerce site that empowers Haitian women by selling their handcrafted purses online. Now, unbelievably, here I was in Haiti taking my Action Research, part of my academic program, one step further.
The morning sun shed light on the magnitude of the horror. Though it was two weeks after the earthquake, devastation was everywhere. There were so many people who needed critical assistance. In the outlying communities we found patients with head trauma, broken bones, burns, lacerations, and severe infections. Many of the children were malnourished, dehydrated, and orphaned. The media footage of rioting and angry mobs that we watched before our departure was unseen once we were on the ground in Haiti. The reality was that everywhere our team went, whether we were dishing out prayer, medicine, or food, the communities responded with a heartfelt, “Merci.”
My goal in obtaining this degree is to research ways that we can harness technology to create a more compassionate society. The challenge in Haiti was an opportunity for me to make a difference. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed at the magnitude of the job and powerless to effect the change I envision. But, as Abraham Linclon once said, “The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time.” With each new sunrise, my hope for a better tomorrow is renewed.