I think the Haiti story has touched many hearts and inspired record donations. Amazing when you consider that most of those people have never met the people who are suffering much less been to Haiti.
However, your perspective changes when you actually comes close and get personal with those who have stared death in this face and saw the tragedy. Such was the case for me today when I met Jamie and Ali McMurtie. You know their stories by now and, if you don’t, I’m guessing you don’t live in Pittsburgh. In short, working at the Bresma orphanage in Haiti during the quake, they watched over 54 orphans until a massive rescue effort could save them.
I had the opportunity to spend some time with the sisters today. When you meet them, after all that you have heard, you expect to meet some larger-than-life people. Instead, they are two very young-looking woman who could easily be your neighbors down the street. Nothing on the outside would clue you into the emotional trauma they experienced less than a week ago.
“Hello Pittsburgh”! Fredo, with his adopted sisters Jamie and Ali, with a greeting for his new home.
Then, I met Fredo. Fredo is the three-year-old orphan whom their family adopted from the group of 54. He speaks Creole and very little english. His smile is wide and joy is from ear to ear. There is nothing about him that says he has endured such heartbreak. Not only the trauma of the earthquake, but also the heartache of not having a family to call his own. He seems unaffected.
He has adjusted well to his new surroundings. He marvels at a cell phone and its keys. He is first scared, then cuddly with a dog that laughs automatically. He gets enveloped in the love of his new family … easily calling Jamie and Ali his sisters.
After our 45 minutes together, I left with one question on my mind. Would we all be so brave as those girls were in the face of the earthquake and given the charge of taking car eof 54 orphans in the front yard of a crumbling orphange? Would I say to a possible rescue “all of us or none of us”? I would like to think we all would be able to step up in the face of such danger but its hard to say.
I asked Ali if she minded being called a “hero” as many have done just this past weekend. Ali accepts it but adds there is so much to do … and that a hero wouldn’t quit at this stage of the game.
By the way, I did ask. No movie offers …. yet.