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When we are witness...

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When we are witness...

July 01, 2002

The last evening before each Adventure Tour departs for home is spent on a second floor balcony, where we can see the evening sky and feel the cooler breeze of the day. We gather here often during the week to chat about the day's events; what we saw, what we feel and the effect these things have on us. The last evening we spend together in Haiti isn't just marked by a summation of our 7 day experience but more importantly, by the question, "what will we do with what we have seen and heard?"

Each visitor to Haiti is assured of an impactful experience. We see. We listen. We feel. We are being witness to. Now what?

This question affects me deeply as a Christian. Moreover, as a Christian, involved in Haiti, this question is a daily preoccupation. What do I do with what I see and hear? How do I respond responsibly, intelligently and compassionately? Some of the answers were closer to me than I had once thought.

I have known writer Urie Bender for most of my adult life. I have come to respect his keen observation of life and his provocative candor, both as a conversationalist and as a writer. If I thought he was the writer of choice to document FIDA's activities in Haiti, I became absolutely convinced when I read his book, The Witness: Message, Method, Motivation.

Written some 37 years ago, when he was barely in his 40s, I found myself in a cover-to-cover breathless read. "... life conveys a message. Actions communicate. The messenger becomes the message. The word must be made flesh in our lives. An effective witness implies relationship and accepting to walk a long road. An effective witness implies a willingness to share, to search, to seek relationships of mutual regard, carefully built through acquaintance, acceptance and dialogue... honest dialogue."

To be an effective witness is no small task. Indeed, much is required of us daily when we commit to being a true witness. It is an awesome challenge and one that I fully embrace.

I see this kind of witness in my parents. I see it in my coworkers here at FIDA. I see it in Janet, Pierre Richard, Cassandre and all our fellow workers in Haiti.

As for my fellow travellers? Your witness has translated into articles and pictures, storytelling and sharing, financial support and personal relationships here in Haiti and here in Canada. You have shared your transformation and, in turn, have enabled the transformation of others.

This is true witness. This is witness that listens and responds.

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