Ayiti, nou pap bliye’ou
It’s hard to believe that the earthquake was a year ago – January 12th, 2010. It led to at least 250,000 deaths and wreaked havoc on the infrastructure of an already struggling country . It permanently separated mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers from each other. To say merely that this disaster had a profound impact on many lives would be a gross understatement.
I am not Haitian by birth; and I have not yet had a chance to visit. To be completely real with y’all, I am only half-Haitian…by adoption. The man that my mom married when I was two, my (step)dad was born in Port-au-Prince. When I was around 4 or 5, he legally adopted me and gave me his Haitian last name (“Cadet”) in place of my more American surname (“Brown”). However, to me, more important than when my name legally changed is the fact that I’ve known him as “Dad” from as far back as that fuzzy gray moment when self-awareness/conscious memory began all the way until this very moment that I type the “w” of this word. For show-n-tell in kindergarten, I proudly drew a Haitian flag to bring into the classroom. For the 115 page senior thesis I needed to complete in order to graduate from Princeton University, I wrote about nationalism and poetry in the D.R. and Haiti (see picture below). The warm, accepting embrace with which my “Tati’s”, “Tonton’s” (sidenote: we say “Tonti” in my family) and cousins welcomed me when I was a big-eyed, high-yellow lil’ boy was equally matched by the warm sense of community offered me by the Haitians at Princeton when I arrived as a wide-eyed, green freshman. (By “Haitians at Princeton,” I don’t just mean friends and classmates, but also the custodians and dining staff who took great care of me.) I guess from early on I’ve felt that not only did Haiti adopt me, but I also adopted Haiti and she became a sort of alma mater to me (sorry Princeton lol).
Thus, I couldn’t help but have the January 12th, 2010 earthquake on my heart and on my mind as I created my first full-length musical project, Turn the Lights On!, which I would release later in the year. The question of where God can be found in the midst of horrific global, national, or personal calamity dictated the direction of my writing.
Yet both then and now, I find hope in the fact that the same God who did not spare His own Son, but freely gave him for us (Rom 8:32), is the same God who not only cares for us today, but also can sympathize with our pain (Heb 4:15). Furthermore, the same God who allowed arguably the greatest evil imaginable (Deicide/the crucifixion of Christ) and out of it brought unbelievable good [the defeat of sin and death, redemption for mankind, restored relationship between God and man (1 Cor 15:55-57, Col 1:13-14, Rom 5:1)] is the same God whom I have seen bring light to other dark situations big and small, both in the lives of others and in my own life. This message of hope, largely inspired by my musings on Haiti, became the new driving force behind Turn the Lights On!.
This is not at all to deny, minimize, or sugarcoat the tragedy. While some may have forgotten once the initial media frenzy died, I and many others who either were born there or have/had family there still cry for Haiti today. Nou pap bliye’ou. I’m not writing to hush any sobs and mourning; indeed, I think there are moments in history and in our lives when to remember and not to cry would be an injustice. But my prayer is that all who still hurt will see hope through the veil of tears covering their eyes.
There is still much work to be done. People lack basic resources like water. To find out a specific way that you can partner with me to help bring hope (and clean water) to Haiti, click HERE and join #TeamLifeFlows.