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January 22, 2013
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I am a survivor by definition of the American aid who saved me; but I disagree. In order to save my life they removed my heart. Blood still flows through these veins, but it no longer warms at the touch of my or the small arms of my own newborn generation. I was fixed up on the exterior and kicked out onto the streets of an unfamiliar shantytown; broken. Broken, is not where my life ends, but it landmarks the start of a journey where I pick up my pieces and return to my regularity at the sight of the ones I love.

Among the chaos the things I took from the disaster recovery station, they never noticed what was missing. I left with what I could gather and Hope in my thoughts, forcing myself to find a stride from deep within to find my way back home. I pulled myself through dirt and mud, weaving my way through the pieces of plastic tarp and wood that used to be houses in the slums. Death littered the sides of the lane; the air of morbid loss choked me. Heaps of black skinned humans lay, still, bloodied, unaccounted for. I needed to get out of here. I closed my eyes, following the wide and empty lane, until I could no longer heard cries, until it was behind me and all I heard was silence.
I opened my eyes. All that could be seen was a dirt path outlined by tall trees and lit by the sun. The next obstacle was a hill traced by trees, and well off in the distance.

The view out over the hill is breathtaking, but not to someone who’s mind is absent of the present. The bag I took from the rickety table hanging loosely at my side, was swaying and smacking against my thigh, and the feeling of the shapes against my leg helped me remember what was in it. A pain shot through my stomach, telling me it’s been a while since I’d eaten. I tried to remember how long, but the only memory that came to was of the makeshift dinner table shaking in unison with the Earth, and dirt rising to layer my throat. Ceramics falling and shattering on the ground, screams in the distance and in the room and somewhere in my own head.

Another pain interrupted my recollection, and for this I was thankful. I opened up the rusted orange side pouch on the bag, and felt around for an object and listened for a wrapper. Clearly the bag had been used before, my fingers could feel little pieces of dirt in the corners of the bag, and the fabric felt loose with time. Most likely it was a donation from America. I found what I was looking for fairly quickly, removing from it a meal bar. The writing on the package was unrecognizable to me, but I understand from the picture that it was made of blueberries. As I opened the package I felt disappointed, because it was some kind of tan colored grain. I took a bite and didn’t find any berries, just a layer of dark blue goo in the middle. This wasn’t normal food, some weird American breakfast, but it helped to feed some of my hunger.

I made it down the hill and up the next before my limbs begged me to stop. I rested for a moment, locking my arm in an outstretched position supporting my weight against a tree. I looked straight ahead, surveying the next part of my journey. As far as I could see, there was a valley below the hill I stood on, and off in the distance was another series of hills. The sun hung high in the sky, informing me that it was still early afternoon. I had much time before nightfall and with that I continued on.

Down the hill once more and through most of the valley I traveled before I stopped again at the sight of a small lake. I knelt before it, washing my hands in the cool water, splashing some in my face and down the back of my neck. It was a wonderful sensation, the contrast between the hot sweat glazing over my skin being washed away by the cool water. I pulled a blue plastic canteen from the maroon colored bag and dipped it in the darker depths of the lake, holding it in place until the small bubbles stopped rising. I capped it with the black translucent screw on top that came with it. I tugged on the printed towel until the maroon fabric released it. It was the last of the items I had taken from the station outside the aid tent. It had blue leaves drawn into the terrycloth, which was multiple shades of green. I dabbed my face with it before packing it back into the bag along with the canteen. Before leaving the lakes edge I cupped my hands and dipped them back under the water, sipping from the water I trapped in my palms. I rubbed my hands dry by brushing them against my arms. My muscles were instantly sore as I rose, telling me they stiffened some as I rested, as I started off again.

I worked through the pain that was beginning to come unbearable with every hill I climbed. Head; pounding. Chest; racing. Legs; aching. My entire body attempting to make me give up, but I just kept ignoring the argument. Night was going to be falling soon and my legs were giving out, but Faith kept me motivated.

I climbed the last hill visible to my eye, though my vision was limited with dusk giving way to night. Up ahead was a patch of trees, and I knew I needed to find a place to lay down for the night. I found a single tree, thicker and taller than the rest, and took a swig of water from the canteen reserved in the bag. I unrolled the towel by the stump of the tree, and ate part of another meal bar as night settled in. the sky was a painted vision of dark blues, blacks and illumination from hundreds of stars and the large crescent moon. But the only thing I could concentrate on was the large cloud of dirt still floating in the sky. As I watched more and more stars peek through the thick layer of dirt in the sky and the depths of darkness above, I started drifting in and out of consciousness.


I awoke with the sun that next morning, the sky still painted with phenomenal shades of bright oranges and yellows. I stretched as I rose to my feet to get an early start to my journey. My doubts of ever finding way home again slowed me from my departure, but I forced myself to gather enough positivity to leave the tree. I looked at my pillow from the previous night, and back to how much I had yet to travel. I turned my head back and looked at how far I’d come. I couldn’t even see the tiny shantytown or aid stations I raided anymore, which gave me optimism at how close I must be getting. My eyes glanced back at the tree I slept under and that graciously granted me shade, but this time they lingered. Something seemed familiar about this tree. My eyes traced the curves of the trunk, to the roots of its base, and to the tops of it’s arms. There was a carving; written in my native language. “Living the difference”, it said, then the name underneath indicated its author as “Jeremie Owusu”.

Something inside of my soul awoke; maybe it was Hope, maybe it was Faith, or maybe just Will, but a new confidence roared at me from inside. I paced along, a new spring in my step, letting me maneuver obstacles faster. Past the tree patches, over the fields, through the next series of hills, I marched on all day without stopping. If I was thirsty I hydrated while I moved, when I felt hungry I never broke a stride. I wasn’t going to stop until I saw my home, and finally after trudging up another hill; I saw it.

Sweat on my back and neck and brow and, my limbs were failing and my head was throbbing but my feet never stumbled. I bounded down the hill; eyes targeting another beat up shantytown. It was beautiful. I ran faster, maneuvering more, until the ground no longer threw me forward. When the ground was level I broke out in a sprint, the challenge of getting to that one tent made me dafter. My lungs were nearly bursting, my ankles practically snapping at the joints, but my feet kept moving and my throat kept screaming out. “Hope!” I shouted. “Faith!” my voice cracking at the image of her melted chocolate eyes, a mirror of my own breaking out into tears. Yards stretched into miles until I reached the right tent.

I stopped. There it was. My Hope, my Faith, my heart. I stepped on wobbly knees whispering, “Hope” and “Faith” while my voice gave out as the tears flowed like rivers down my face. I embraced my lover, her hand resting on my sweaty neck that warmed on the imprint of her touch. I kissed my newborn on the face as he r fingers reached out and spilled across my cheek. “Will” my lover said to me. “I knew you’d come back to us.”

A tear escaped my eyes as I spoke in broken Haitian; “Faith Owusu, you and Hope, never left me.”

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