The recent 7.0 earthquake that shook the Port au Prince, Haiti area took the lives of many Haitian National Police Officers both on and off duty. Additionally a large number were injured. The devastating quake also claimed the lives of United Nationals Peace Keepers and UN Police Officers as well.
I learned the grim news during my recent trip to Haiti as part of The Hope For Haiti Medical Mission Team. Our team joined a larger group Hope International and together we worked and served Haitian citizens at the Fort Liberte, Haiti Hospital north of the hot zone.
Evacuees and injured had pushed north seeking a place of refuse and medical treatment in the area less effected by the devastation.
I learned of the grim police statistics as I met with Fort Liberte Mayor Charles Pierre. He talked of the extreme stress and stain on his officers who had lost friends and relatives in the disaster. These officers are ever mindful that another earthquake could strike at anytime and according to Pierre, it weighs heavily on their minds.
It was interesting to note the same stressors are present with the Haitian officers as with American officers. They especially were stressed when a small child at the hospital where we were volunteering died. They were also concerned when equipment failed to work properly or was in short supply.
In addition to the Haitian National Police there is the UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH). They provide almost 9,000 peace keeping troops and over 3,700 law enforcement officers, including some from the U.S.
Both Haitian National Police and MINUSTAH had a presence at the Fort Liberte Hospital and community at large.
While in Haiti our team treated over 500 patients at the outpatient clinic and doctors performed four to six surgeries daily. The hospital held some 50 patients. As a chaplain my role was to provide spiritual care and psychological support to the team, patients and hospital staff.
In my opinion the media has given the citizens of Haiti a bad rap. We found them to be very loving and kind and highly appreciative of the American assistance and presence in their country.
The final Friday we were in country was a National Day of Prayer for the people of Haiti asking God to remember Haiti and reminding the people to remember God.
The rebuilding effort in Haiti will take years, but the Haitians are already beginning to rebuild their spiritual and emotional foundations. As I stated in a previous column everyone isn't called to go to Haiti, but everyone can do something. Please remember the people of Haiti, especially their law enforcement officers and their families.