Humbled … and hopeful.
Those are the two words that came to mind as I listened to William Lowry describe his experience delivering our first load of recycled soap to Haiti. William is the founder and executive director of Central Care Mission in Orlando, the organization with which we formed a deep partnership to handle our sterilization and packaging operation.
William rode along in the Missionary Flights International DC-3 that departed Fort Pierce, Fla., on Tuesday, July 7 to deliver 2,000 pounds of soap to Cap Haitien, Haiti – the poorest city in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Once there he met up with Pastor Julio Brutus of the First Haitian Church in Winter Haven, Fla. Pastor Brutus is a native of Haiti and he is our man on the ground in Haiti.
Actually, Pastor Brutus is THE man. This guy knows all the right people … how to get around … how to work the system … and he served the very important role of interpreter.
With Pastor Brutus, William was able to visit and bring soap to two orphanages, and to an estimated crowd of more than 10,000 at a four-hour, mid-week worship service at the Tabernacle of Praise church.
In a country that has suffered a near total collapse of government, the poverty and hopelessness is inconceivable to most of us in the United States. When people barely have any food to eat, many live in homes without proper roofs or walls, and there is an absence of garbage disposal or a proper sewage system – things like personal hygiene tend to fall by the wayside.
People are living in filth, and they don’t have soap. That is a recipe for disaster.
William said that in the three days he was in Cap Haitien, he never saw soap in a public restroom. He didn’t see soap on the shelves of the one small store he found. The desperate need for soap was illustrated by the thousands of people who mobbed the distribution team at the church service. “It was what you imagine it would be like if you delivered a truck full of food to an area where no one had eaten in a month,” said William. “You hope to have some sort of order and an organized distribution, but it just doesn’t work because everyone wants to make sure they get theirs.”
After his visit, William is convinced there is no question about the importance of our mission to distribute recycled hotel soap in places where it is needed most.
“If we can get soap to them, not just once, but over and again, we will have a major impact on their lives,” said William. “Soap can save lives. It’s not just a concept, it is today a reality. It is fact.”
See the entire photo gallery from last week’s Haiti trip.