Tuesday, August 3, 2010

We are deep into the work we came to do here. The quantitative part of our study uses assessments to help participants explore their coping abilities, their relationship to God, how their faith has changed, and what meaning they are making of their experiences during and after the devastating Jan. 12, 20210 earthquake. (We’re using the Spiritual Assessment Inventory; Daily Spiritual Experiences Scale; Spiritual Transformation Scale; Posttraumatic Growth Inventory [Short Form]; and a form that asks spiritual and religious practices questions, three open-ended qualitative questions, and a demographic information as well as resources loss; all of these have been translated into French.) Sister Vivian, our delightful hostess, and Brother Gabriel, a local counselor working with a tent community, have taken our cause as their own. Thanks to them and other community leaders, we are getting many completed surveys distributed and collected for our future analyses.
Our primary qualitative study uses a semi-structured interview for Haitian residents 18 and older. Here, we are exploring in more detail questions including people’s personal accounts of the earthquake; how it has changed their lives; the challenges they face; the coping skills they are using; whether or not their faith has changed; and if so, how; and the meaning they see for themselves and Haiti in the aftermath. We are by turns touched, amazed, and sober as we sit in witness of their accounts. “It feels so good to be able to tell my story to someone who cares and will listen,” is a very typical comment. “This is the first time I’ve been able to do so since the earthquake.”
A third, valuable service we are bringing is the opportunity to provide some short-term counseling, as well as meet with some local church leaders. We are providing them with training in simple coping skills that they can use to help their people after we are gone.
Perhaps the biggest gift we bring is to all the children we are meeting. They run to greet us as we arrive at the tent city, shouting “Bonjour! Bonjour!” They hug us, grab our hands, giggling and smiling broadly. Brenna is a Pied Piper of fun and connection, leading songs, ball games, drawing pictures. Her “robot dance” is an encore favorite! We all feel joy in their play, for they are a key part of the hope for Haiti.

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