I wonder what it was like to watch tonight's CNN documentary ("Rescued" with Soledad O'Brien) if you had never been to Haiti and if you didn't know the people on the screen. No doubt it was a completely different experience.
For me, it was very hard to watch. It brought back all the fear and adrenaline of those hours and days after the earthquake. I thought I was ready to watch it but now I am not so sure.
In Haiti I watched no footage except for a couple of minutes of French coverage, and when I came to the US I didn't watch TV coverage. I have read a lot - a LOT - of articles, but it is still difficult for me to watch footage. I feel I have to watch it - just like I have to listen to the Haiti segments from The Story that I have been blogging about - because I have to face it. For nearly four months I have mourned it and grieved it, talked about it and written about it, moved on from it and then back to it, obsessed over it and tried to forget it. And when I say IT I mean all of it - the earthquake itself, the situation Haiti is in now, the losses of life and property and future, the despair of every aspect of this enormous tragedy. And yet it still seems as though I haven't completely grasped or accepted what happened.
I can't express how strange it is to sit here in the US - on another planet - and watch people I know and places I know in Haiti on television. It makes my head feel as though it's going to explode. It makes me feel scattered, panicky, overwhelmed. It makes me feel like screaming.
The documentary showed clearly how impossible life was for so many before the earthquake. It brought up restaveks, and child abandonment, and poverty, and slums. Soledad O'Brien said, "This country is so full of sadness." Who could argue? I wanted to say what I always say: "There's beauty too, there's hope too, the sadness is not all there is." Susette and Bill both talked on camera about the starfish, and how you have to make a difference for the people that you can help, and try not to get sidetracked by the fact that there's so much more to do. I know they are right. And I know there are so many many people - Haitians and foreigners - making a difference. I know that Haitians are strong and resilient. I know that there's no such thing as a God-forsaken town.
But right now the sadness and despair seem bigger than the hope. I don't want all this to be happening to a country I love. I don't want to see people I know on CNN.
You can see part of the documentary here. I believe that eventually it will all be available online but you can also see it again on CNN tomorrow night at 8 PM Eastern.
48 minutes ago