2010, you were a hell of a year you know that? It's going to take me a lot longer than this simple blog post to process and absorb all of what you gave me. Adventure, fear, desire, disappointment, hope, purpose, friendship, love - those words are all common to hear, and I'd be willing to bet just about everyone experiences near all of them throughout the course of spending a year on this planet as a human being. The same applies for me. The difference last year, for me anyhow, is the intensity of their manifestation.
Last year floored me in many ways. At the beginning of the year - February - I walked away from the best relationship I've ever had because I knew I wasn't ready to give up trying to begin this kind of work, and I knew I couldn't be to her what she deserved if I were to take off and do it, which I did. Ironically, in coming here I met another woman who sparked a real desire in me, but had to step back from her as well, for the same reason. 2010 certainly taught me that, despite the protests of the romantic in me, timing is important in matters of the heart. I don't like it, but I'm coming to learn to accept it.
Getting to Haiti, I had a reality check unlike any I've ever experienced before. The overwhelming brokenness of this country is hard to make tangible until you can be here, meet the people, see their lives, and see what they're up against. And yet, more than even the overwhelm around their troubles, the Haitians themselves - many of them my friends now - are what truly caught me unexpected. They're no different than any of us - smart, capable, funny, sensitive and imperfect - but they have a strength to them I find unique. I suppose you have to have it to stay sane in a place like Haiti. 2010 tested the will of the Haitian people. Jan. 12th was the earthquake. Over a quarter million Haitians died, and the capital city of Port-au-Prince was shattered. The months that followed saw the growing frustration with aid efforts, as NGOs worked slowly and only a tiny percentage of the tens of billions of dollars pledged for reconstruction efforts actually got through the system. Cholera hit Haiti in October, followed by Hurricane Tomas, which worsened the outbreak, eventually resulting in a full-fledged epidemic. Over 3000 Haitians have died of the disease, and over 150,000 confirmed cases exist. Every region of Haiti has it, and it is now confirmed that all regions of the Dominican Republic do as well. In November, the country had its third ever democratic elections, which proved to be anything but. The announcement that Jude Celestin, a government backed technocrat, had edged out popular candidate Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly through the country into a multi-day protest that shut down most of the roads, closed the airport, and sparked violence. Worse still was the reminder that their government wasn't something Haitians could depend on. The sentiment is echoed everywhere - "We need a leader."