I often begin email messages saying that “I hope you’re well.”
I do sincerely hope that you and your family are well, and feel that this hope is a much bigger investment now in the midst of this pandemic.
It’s not just the virus that threatens our well-being right now. That would be hard enough.
It’s the threat of job loss. The threat of other illnesses that can’t be treated because of the disruption of the virus.
It’s the threat to family peace and mental health because of the isolation from lockdowns and the anxiety and stress coming from all sides. It’s the threat of the epidemic of domestic violence that surges in times like these.
While this is an email that I’m sending out to lots of people, I do hope that you are well, and I hope that you’ll actually write back to say if you are not well.
It may be that my colleagues and I in Haiti and North America can pray for you — and we will do that. And it may also be that we can find others to help you too, so please do write to say if you’re not well.
As I write, it’s Good Friday in the Christian calendar. In the Jewish calendar Passover has just been celebrated. Both holy days call to mind periods of great uncertainty, anxiety, isolation, fear, and death.
This all feels more real to me right now.
As I write, the official global count for all who have died from this virus has surpassed 100,000.
While I’m grateful that my immediate family has been spared so far, we know other families who have lost loved ones. Their loss is compounded by the fact that they couldn’t be with their loved ones in their final days and now can’t even gather to bury them.
I hope you’ve been spared this.
As I write, I’m struggling against both despair and rage.
In Haiti, we’re trying to help people protect themselves from this virus. Because Haiti is more isolated from the world, we’re maybe two or three weeks behind where a lot of communities in the U.S. are — at least that is what we think.
It is hard to know because the entire nation of Haiti was only allotted 1,000 tests for a population of more than 11 million.
To help communities prepare, we’re mounting public education efforts about the importance of washing hands frequently with soap.
That message will make a difference for many, we know, but then we know how this message must feel to the large numbers of families who can barely afford water to drink.
Soap is a luxury as is water for frequent hand washing. We’re distributing soap, bleach, and buckets with valves to the poorest families we can reach, but we know there are far too many we won’t be able to reach in time.
Social distancing is also something for the privileged. They’ve closed the assembly plants in Port-au-Prince to prevent the spread of the virus among factory workers. These same workers now spend their entire days in neighborhoods so crowded that some families have to sleep in shifts.
Earlier in this pandemic I heard people saying that this virus was the great leveler. Rich and poor alike are vulnerable and have to take the same precautions.
That is true, but these precautions cost something that many people can’t afford.
In the U.S. it is becoming clear that disadvantaged populations — people of color, prisoners, our homeless population, people in institutional care and nursing homes and those who serve them — are at much greater risk of both falling ill and dying from this virus.
So, as strange as this moment is, as powerless as it leaves even the powerful feeling, it really isn’t new in any fundamental way.
I started this message by saying that I hope that you’re well. Now I worry that I’ve just passed along my own despair.
I have to remind myself that as distressing and deadly as this time can feel, Good Friday has to come before Easter.
Death can be transformed into deliverance.
Unless a seed falls to the ground, is buried in the cold ground, and dies, there’s no new life.
I remind myself of this neither to dismiss the darkness I feel now nor to excuse inaction. I remember this because it is fundamentally true and gives me the courage to hope and remain faithful in being guided by love.
So, I hope that you are well and sustained by hope through this perilous time.
Co-Founder & Executive Director | Beyond Borders