Holland watched as the woman approached. Her tired eyes met his, and he could tell almost instantly where she was headed. For a moment, fear of disease overpowered the compassion he felt, and he held back a cringe. But as she approached, Holland leaned down to embrace her and offered his cheek. The woman placed a big, wet kiss upon it, and Holland knew his life would never be the same.
What Can’t Be Healed Should Be Remembered.
Holland was an unlikely candidate for the trip to Haiti. His background is richly varied, peppered with medical experiences, but centered around a more aesthetic theme: his art.
An accomplished portrait painter and trained opera singer, Holland was invited to join the Haiti group as the "token artist"---someone who could capture the dire need and unflappable dignity of the Haitian people in a way that folks back home could not ignore.
That was two and a half years ago. Today, that trip is as much a part of Holland’s life as, and maybe more than, ever.
"Most people who see such great need just get an empty hole inside.", he reflects.
“It’s overwhelming---the enormity of it. You don’t know where to start." Yet through his art, and his faith, Holland has devoted most of his time since then to finding a way to start.
Too Young for Such Suffering.
For Holland, the hardest---yet most rewarding---
part of the trip was the children. Hundreds and
hundreds of them, packed into orphanages,
abandoned by parents who could not afford to
feed them, or had died. The "lucky" ones end
up in an orphanage that can provide regular meals.
But most Haitian children have to settle for one
meager meal about every two days. With conditions
like that, Holland expected to find mass portions of
despair. He was mistaken. Surrounded by laughing
children who clamored to hold his hand as he toured
various orphanages, Holland saw that many of these
children have something extraordinary---hope.
And as long as they have food and shelter, they also have a chance.
A Defining Moment
It was the final evening of their trip. Dinner was surreal. Holland and the rest of the group were served exquisite food in the opulent setting of their razor-wire-bounded hotel courtyard, while guards armed with machine guns held positions in the shadows to protect them.
“Waiting” Oil on Linen by Gary Holland