|Working at a makeshift clinic in Port-au-Prince, Br. Jim Boynton, S.J. holds an IV for a person injured in the earthquake.|
Brother Jim Boynton, S.J. is a U.S. Jesuit who began working with Jesuit Refugee Service in Haiti in November, 2009. His first assignment was to serve as the director of a Fe y Alegría school for poor children in Wanament area of northeastern Haiti along the border with the Dominican Republic.
When the earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, Jim’s life took an unexpectedly different course. He joined the Jesuit emergency relief response to the quake’s untold number of victims in Port-au-Prince. During the past weeks he has helped to facilitate and support the work of U.S. doctors, nurses and paramedics as they care for the thousands of seriously wounded Haitian people. They have saved many lives by courageous medical efforts, often performing surgeries in the most trying of situations.
What follows are a few selections from Brother Jim Boynton’s diary during the days following the disastrous earthquake.
January 18, 2010
I am new to Haiti, and only arrived on November 1 to work in a school. To be honest I was nervous about that, but a school in Haiti now seems no more daunting than a classroom at University of Detroit Jesuit High School, or St. Ignatius Cleveland, where I taught history for years. What is daunting now is Haiti itself. “Haiti cherie,” or “dear Haiti,” as this country is called by those who love her, is suffering. The news may report that help is being sent from all over the world, but today we are six days past the quake, yet at our location we were the first foreign aid to arrive. Most is bottlenecked in the airport.
January 19, 2010
At Christmas I told my friend, Father Jim Williams, that someday I hoped to have a love for the Haitian people that was not based on pity. This island seemed like a latrine, and the people only to be pitied. Pity is not bad, but it makes you the superior; it sets up an inequality and puts me at the top. After what I have seen these last few days, now when it would make most sense to pity these poor people I have none. My pity has grown to respect and admiration. Overnight I have come to love these people in a way that makes them a model for me, and clearly puts them on a higher plane than I will ever be.
January 22, 2010
The role of faith then is the role of action, and nothing is needed now more than action.
January 23, 2010
Twice today in the tap-tap [bus] I broke down and cried. I’m not embarrassed anymore to do that. Everyone on our team understands that reaction. My guess is most have done that as well. I ask myself how much of this can I take? Why can’t August be here already when I can go home and swim with my niece and nephews in a Michigan lake? Why can’t I see children other than those who want only a drink of water, or parents who are not grieving their dead children, buildings that are not a pile of rubble, or elderly who have the comfort my parents have and deserve? But then I stop and reflect . . . . I have hope, faith, and love, and therefore can take much, much more. My prayer is that, as noble as these people are, they do not lose their hope, faith, and love.
January 25, 2010
Our team neurosurgeon told us today that three of the worst wounded people in town were at a clinic and needed to get to surgery. We had no way to transport them and did not know what to do. At that moment someone noticed a large flatbed truck with the front window broken out. When I asked who owned the truck I had to laugh . . . it belongs to Fe y Alegría, the school I work for. In essence, it was my truck! We drove to the clinic, found the patients and transported them. They will never walk again, but they will live.