This past weekend, while we were bundled up on the couch reading poetry and drinking hot chocolate amidst a gentle drizzle, a hurricane was traveling up the Atlantic coast. I have friends who are still without power and isolated behind washed out roads and downed power lines. Even still, they’ve fared better than the island of Haiti. Ever since our own tornado in 2011, I am especially sensitive to scenes of the aftermath of hurricanes and tornadoes. My heart and memory weep with the islanders who have lost their homes with little hope in the near future of rebuilding. That may sound overly dramatic or flowery, but I can think of no other way to describe the empathy I feel and the way it takes me back to our own experience. In our case, we had friends ready to take us into their homes. Power was restored within a week. No one contracted cholera. I could put my toddler to sleep in a bed the very same night. It wasn’t his bed, but it had clean sheets and three pillows.
This past June, I shared some ways to give back with books. I have one more for you today. A good friend of mine from college has spent time in Haiti and come to love and respect the people at Espere Counseling Center near Port-au-Prince. The counseling center is accepting monetary donations, and you can read about their work since the hurricane on their Facebook page. What really spoke to my book-loving heart, however, is my friend Vanessa’s upcoming trip to Haiti. She will take as much luggage as the airline will allow full of supplies for Espere. With the help of the center coordinators, she has made an Amazon wedding registry full of things they need. Help can come in all kinds of ways, but you can bet that I will be giving in books. Picture books in the Haitian language are hard to come by, but Vanessa and the counselors at Espere have rounded up over 20 on their wishlist. Some of the books are as inexpensive as $5.99.
Please forgive this very personal request. I try to make this a place to retreat into the world of books. Today, though, my mind is a long way from its usual bookish place. I can’t make dinner and turn down beds for the families in Haiti that have lost so much so many times. What I can do is forgo the pizza we were going to have for dinner tonight and send a couple books their way instead.