One year ago today I was returning from a two-week shoot on the island of Malta when I received word of the earthquake in Haiti. I never made it home. As soon as I hit the ground at Washington Dulles, I got the word from CBN News: get to Haiti.
As a war corrsepondent, I've seen more than my share of death and destruction. But nothing could prepare me for what I found when I arrived in Haiti with the United States Marines.
Bodies stacked like cordwood - stretching down the street as far as the eye could see. Gaunt, zombie-like survivors unable to get medical care, much less food or clean water. The unforgettable stench of burning flesh.
Along with good-hearted citizens of the United States who donated billions, Governments and NGO's pledged substantial sums of help as well. On the ground, it felt like the wild-west - no functional government meant people did whatever they felt necessary to address the situation. Heartbreaking signs spray painted on collapsed homes begged for anyone with a piece of heavy machinery to help dig out trapped loved ones who survived the quake - but most ultimately died of thirst before anyone could dig them out.
But it didn't take long for the "government" of Haiti to reassert control - and truly, I believe it might have been better if they had not. With their reorganization, the endemic corruption returned, and continues to this day.
Much of the promised help never arrived, and millions of the aid that did make it to the Haiti was siphoned off by unscrupulous officials. Today, the island languishes with hundreds of thousands in squallid tent cities, suffers from an ongoing Cholera outbreak, and a full recovery is still years away.
My friend David Darg is the director of international disaster relief for Operation Blessing. He was on the ground in Haiti within hours after the quake, and except for a couple weeks of sorely needed vacation, has been living in Haiti for the entirety of 2010, directing OB's response to the disaster. He says that despite the deplorable conditions, there are signs of progress everywhere on the ground.
"It's an emotional time looking back on the year," Darg told me when I reached him on his cellphone. "We're& a little frustrated that people are still having to suffer so much. But don't believe the stories you're going to see all over the news today - they mostly ignore the good things that are happening here."
"We're seeing so much hope everywhere we look - lives changed every day - Operation Blessing has been working on medical facilities, opened a children's home, and is changing lives by creating jobs through our fishing program. We believe these are the keys to long-term recovery.
This morning at the OB children's home, we held a small service for the kids - each child planted a tree. Most of them lost their parents one year ago today, and this small symbolic act spoke volumes about how all of us here are looking to the future with hope."
When you remember Haiti today in your prayers, please include a petition for David Darg and his tireless team of aid workers who have braved riots, cholera, and shared in the suffering of the citizens of Haiti to bring the love of Jesus to a place that needs it more than anything else.
And if you feel led, you can give confidently to Operation Blessing and know that your resources will be used wisely where they can do the most good for the most people.
How you can help: Give to Operation Blessing