Yesterday the team and I went to a pretty large tent city in Port Au Prince. When we got there people were gathered around the water pumps getting water for drink, washing cloths/body, coking, etc. The well that was placed there by Red Cross was amazing, and it was being used for sure.

A crowd started gathering as soon as we arrived at the site. We quickly unloaded the bus and set up the mic and speakers for the presentation that the team was going to do. There were a lot of kids there watching and hanging around us, also the older guy’s and girls (15-25 years old) were hanging out. My friend Amy told me that this was pretty unusual. Her experience with the tent city’s were that the older people just left you alone so that you could be with the kids, but not here.

I was standing in the crowd watching our Haitian host talk to the crowd of approx. 100+ people when a guy around 15 or 16 came up to me. He kept asking for a pair of sun glasses that a boy from the team was proudly sporting. I told him that they were not my glasses so I couldn’t give them to him. Then I proceeded to tell the dude on the team to put them away as he knew people wanted them. He wouldn’t take them off, nor would he give them away, but eventually he put them in his pocket.

After the glasses were safely put away the Haitian boy came up to me and said “you die, you die.” I thought I understood him, but just in-case I was mistaken I looked at him and said “me die?” He said “yes” then walked away laughing with his friends. Needless to say, I was a bit spooked and opened the eyes that I carry in the back of my head for such occasions. From this point on things just kept getting heated and tense, not with this boy, but just in general.

So, in-case you are wondering, a tent city is a place where they erect a bunch of tents, at this location (100’s), with the plan of relocating people and families who have lost their homes due to the January earthquake. Since the earthquake approx. 800 tent cities have gone up in Haiti.

When the team was finishing the crowd started to get restless. A woman came in to the crowd smoking a cigarette and swinging around a piece of extension chord to calm the kids down. While this was going on we heard some yelling behind us. Turns out a dude is chasing another dude with a metal baseball bat. At some point a knife was pulled and then the camp workers came out and told us that it was all over and that we didn’t have to leave. We wrapped things up and left approx. 15 minutes later, without injury.

I was in this place of wonder as I left the camp. Outreach is supposed to be safe, warm, exciting and without incident (being sarcastic here). This outreach was not that. I kept reminding myself that we were not in a stable environment, but one that was created from the government out of chaos. No one wanted to live in the tent city, they were just there because they had nothing else. I imagined what life must look there on a daily basis. What youth ruled the tent city? Who was the boss? How many women were being raped there daily? Who was raising the kids, the mom and dad or the community? Was there even a sense of pride left, or had that been taken from them too? At one tent city in town 1 out of 3 women are pregnant because the government is assuring that pregnant women will get food distribution first. This is not good, but it is what they have for now.

Haiti needs you. It needs prayer, it needs Jesus. There needs to be peace and order in the chaos, and Jesus and His church should be the ones to bring it. I cannot imagine a harder place to be and serve right now than in the tent cities of Haiti. It gave me some empathy to the aid workers who were doing food distribution after the earthquake occurred. People here are still desperate, people here are still poor and people here still need hope and a future.

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