• The Rev. Deacon Clelia Garrity

No Going Back...


The phrase “no going back” when considering my 20 years of work in Haiti has taken on quite a few meanings for me in the past few weeks. Taken literally, there may be “no going back” at this point in time because of the extremely volatile and dangerous political situation coupled with the possibility that the priest in charge of Martel, where we are now working, may be moved, leaving this community under the guidance of a new priest – one who has yet to form any relationship with our team, or with the community to which he is assigned.

Martel is hours from civilization – we go there only confident in the safety that the current priest in charge, Pere Phanord, provides. Without his presence, work in this tiny, remote community may not be possible for us Americans.

That brings me to another “no going back.” We have established a strong relationship with Martel. We have been in partnership with them for over five years, with multiple visits each year. We have provided much needed prevention education and healthcare to over 2000 unduplicated community members. There is most certainly “no going back” on our commitment to Martel.

Our commitment in this work has always been to develop a locally sustainable preventive health and primary health care program. While doing this work, we have tried to imagine, with them, the end-goal of what will happen when “we are no longer here.”

With this in mind, from the outset we identified and incorporated into our team well-trained and very talented Haitian doctors and nurses. These men and women are now trusted caregivers in Martel, and they are committed to providing ongoing monthly visits to this tiny, remote community. They are quite clear that, for them, there is “no going back” on their commitment to the residents of Martel, just as we are quite clear that there is “no going back” on our commitment to continue to fund the costs of this modest but critically important healthcare program.

So, while there may be “no going back” physically, there is most certainly “no going back” on our commitment to these brothers and sisters who live in Martel and the brothers and sisters who have vowed to care for them. We will continue to send the funds required to maintain an effective level of prevention education and primary health care in Martel, Haiti.

We love so very deeply our companions in Haiti. It is a love that burns in our hearts and humbles us in all ways as we consider our great fortune as citizens of the United States of America. More importantly, our Haitian companions have taught us to see God through very different lenses, and to experience a way of walking with Christ that has been life changing. For us, this a truly another, and perhaps the most important, “no going back.”

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