I am all for writing raw posts- even if this one is just a tad fresh.
If you read my last blog or you follow our pages on social media you already know about the political unrest Haiti has been experiencing. Shortly after that was posted we were evacuated from Haiti.
To begin to express to you in words what feelings we experienced will be very difficult because I am still not fully comprehending them myself. Maybe if I try it will help me process too. Get your coffee ready and bear with me.
Gunfire was heavy at the main intersection by our house. We made the mistake of going to church on Sunday and exposing ourselves to potential hazards. We are fortunate to have our little red moto(rcycle) and blend in that way. We did not know it at the time of purchase when we first moved to Haiti but it was also come in handy for passing through roadblocks- fifteen of them to and from church. I had never seen anything like it before.
A big dump truck flagged us down and stopped us on a back road we were following to a main road we had to travel to get home from church. He warned us and pleaded with us to turn around and try another way. We back tracked a little but ultimately there was not another choice. We made it to the main road, hesitant to pull out when a group of motos passed by so we jumped in their group. We made it home but truly regretted our decision to make the track to church.
I am not writing to highlight the protesters or the fear they instilled. I am expressing my truths in a way to show you what we face but also I am always blown away by this beloved country and I want to express to you the small acts of heroism that we experienced.
After being on a shelter in place order for almost a week with things escalating each day our organization let us know they would need us to evacuate. We had already been in contact with a security firm to see what that would look like for us to leave but at the time had no one to come and be at our house with our fur-family while we left. At one point we were imagining having to close the gate on them unattended. As things were unfolding we were living out our worst nightmare. Without focusing on these feelings too much just take a second and try to imagine yourself in a very slow burning house. You have plenty of time to save all your loved ones and even those sentimental material things. But you can't.
We had someone coming to the house to stay until our return and we were prepping for our "extraction" the next morning. But our hearts were wrecked at the reality of everyone we have come to know and love staying behind and the guilt of leaving them. There was so much guilt.
Heartbroken is an understatement.
So again- without focusing on the negative too much as I have made my point, there were some pretty incredible things we experienced.
On the morning of our exit we were picked up by a security team who drove us to the airport. A part of the team was two young men (early 20's) who rode on the sides of the car covering my window and covering Alex's. Should anyone try to throw rocks or do anything, they were literally a human shield. Watching the bravery of these two who have never met us before was almost too much. They were paid the equivalent of $7 USD each. That half hour of my life will always be a painful one. My life is not worth more than theirs but for such a small amount they were willing to protect it.
Our own neighbors and neighborhood came to our aid and even encouraged us in our leaving. They knew we needed to go even though they could not and they were so supportive of us and loved us through the process.
Our go-to Haiti guy walked at least 11 miles on foot through roadblocks and such to make it to our house to watch over things for us. I am still blessed by the bravery that took.
And again I cannot brag on our neighbors enough through this time- we had a mishap where our very scary guard dogs escaped through our gate that somehow opened while no one was home. Typically (and especially with aggressive or scary dogs) Haitians would have had the right to "take care" of them in whatever means necessary to protect themselves while our two goofballs took to the streets wreaking havoc. Instead they took the time to call us and let us know what was going on but we could not get anyone over there who knew them to catch them and put them back in our yard. When our guy finally arrived home to handle things, turns out one of our neighbors braved up and got them back safe and sound.
We are so in awe of the people we have come to know and love. They are such a blessing to us and such a blessing to work alongside. I am daily inspired by their acts of bravery and ability to put other's first. I am daily inspired by their strength and unity.
I watch in awe at measures our Haitian family took to ensure our safety, our awareness, and even the well-being of our dogs. I hope in reading this you can begin to picture fully the scope of feelings we had in this experience.
What I witnessed more often than not was bravery and tenderness among absolute chaos. A deep level of care for us that are foreigners in their land.
So much love in such a tough time. I aspire to learn from them and learn from this experience.
Kristen & Alex Bradshaw