“On another night in central Haiti, in another hospital, and elderly man grabbed my arm and said: “Haiti is finished.” Two younger Haitians, a doctor whose family home in Petit-Goave was turned to rubble and a former patient who was enrolled in nursing school at the time of the quake, overheard the comment. “No,” they both said. “Ayiti p’ap peri” (“Haiti will never be finished“).
–Haiti After the Earthquake, Paul Farmer
This quote struck me as the perfect way to frame the foundation of my belief in Haiti and her people.
I went to Haiti to explore the proposition that some of the more intractable problems in the world would be well addressed by entrepreneurial businesses. This was a remarkable time for me, working alongside an energetic team of people for La Mabouya Fondacion, a Haitian development organization. I conducted socio-economic research, helped write business plans, and engaged in fundraising and partnership development for a large-community trash collection and sanitation center in Jacmel.
Until traveling to Haiti I had not worked with or for the people I’d so often and closely “analyzed” along my travels, which means I probably haven’t actually known much about anything. Being able to live a provincial lifestyle with Haitians who make a living on the land was an amazing experience and a presented a very rare insight into a country that is largely understood through the international media’s coverage of Port au Prince.
When the mainstream media rhythmically bludgeons us with stories to the tune of “disaster,” “death,” “destruction,” “disappointment” as is the case with Haiti since 2010, we young people are quick to change the channel, open or close a browser window. I think we have all experienced the moment when we cannot handle the breadth of the world’s distressing issues. The thoughts roll out… “How can anyone really help the hurt millions? “The cause seems noble, but is that enough reason to break out the plastic this time?” “Every solution will be temporary – Syrian people will keep dying, Kony won’t really be caught, Israel & Palestine’s conflict is just the way it is, Haiti is doomed.” Larger, financially powered groups take on the issues while we ponder, and they subsequently reward us with a transitory “good Samaritan” sensation after processing our transaction. “The money is headed toward X, where my chosen group will use it to do right! Or not…or I really won’t know because I did what I could, and what more can you ask of me?”
This blog is my attempt at sharing the information and perspectives I gained during my experience, and that I continue to expand upon. I believe that the world’s issues can in part be mitigated by the capacity to listen to others in their native language, to reciprocate meaningfully, respectfully, and fluidly. Furthermore we must all feel activated and dynamic in our approach to supplying aid, which, in the case of this blog, takes the form of information. During my time outside of Jacmel Haiti I worked alongside provincial Haitian men and women, young and old who adamantly stated their desire to work. These people do not spend their time treasure hunting for handouts, they roar for a hand up. Each person is my inspiration, and has built the composite of my personality in some form or another.