Earthquake & Haiti’s History


Brad first went to Haiti months after the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010.  Obviously, this event put the entire world on notice of this small nation.  The months that followed brought even more calamity…floods, an outbreak of cholera, the return of painful memories, sometimes you wonder how it’s possible for people to endure so much.  Many would tell you that it is by the grace of God that they endure.  Students at Sonlight would tell you that they believe that Haiti will not only survive, but one day it will thrive again under the blessing of our God.

Some months ago, a documentary was released called “When The Ground Stopped Shaking”.  The film is about a community in Haiti attempting to rebuild their lives weeks after the January 12, 2010 earthquake as international aid arrives to offer support.  Directed, photographed and edited by Jace Freeman, the first-time filmmaker presents a cinema-verite portrayal of a refugee camp west of Port-au-Prince.  A documentary about life and death, the film chronicles the regeneration of a nation persevering on uneven ground.

When The Ground Stopped Shaking from The Moving Picture Boys on Vimeo.

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A Brief History of Haiti

Christopher Columbus, searching for a route to India, landed on Hispaniola in 1492, with his three famed ships: the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. He landed on the north coast of Haiti, in a town now called Mole Saint Nicholas, and claimed it for the Spanish crown. The indigenous people of this Caribbean island were Arawak Indians. French buccaneers began to prey on the floundering Spanish colony, and when the French defeated Spain in Europe at the close of the 17th century, the Treaty of Ryswick named the western third of the island a French colony. While diplomatically, the nation was named a colony of France, the country itself bore its Arawak name, Haiti, which means, Land of Mountains. It is fabled that when King Ferdinand asked Columbus upon his return what Haiti looked like, the sailor crumpled a piece of paper, put it in front of the King, pointed, and said, “Like that.”

The island of Hispaniola was extremely rich, so much so that it became known as the “Pearl of the Antilles.” Just as India was the Crown Jewel of English colonies, Haiti became the pride and primary source of wealth for France. France began to exploit Haiti’s riches, mining its gold, harvesting its sugar cane for refinement and shipping its coffee to Europe and America. The Arawak Indians were enslaved and were treated so harshly that overwork, coupled with the disease brought by Europeans, completely destroyed the Indians. The plantation owners and merchants began shipping slaves from the Guinea Coast of West Africa to the island to work. So completely were the Indians destroyed that today, unlike most of its Latin American neighbors, Haiti contains no trace of its Arawak Indian heritage.

In 1801, Toussaint Louverture led the slaves in a revolt against the French colonists. After a bloody three-year war, Haiti became the first black republic in the world. The slaves declared their independence on January 1, 1804.

Most Haitians subscribe to a system of beliefs known as Voodoo, whose origin is in Africa. This cult of spirits teaches that spirits reside in various forms in nature. It teaches that these spirits can be consulted for important life-decisions, and that they can be used in one’s favor to help, or against another to harm.

As the Church in Haiti, we come to bring hope to hurting people. That hope is the Truth, the Way and the Life. That hope is Jesus. We pray what Jesus’ has taught us, that God’s Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.