This reflection is written for my donors who made my trip possible.
It has been a week since coming back from Haiti. I have intentionally waited before I decided to write anything down of substance to share with friends and family. Plenty of observations and notes were taken that past week prior and post my trip but I wanted to wait until now to share what Haiti has marked on me in a more substantive form to share. My decision to wait was mainly to maintain some form of clarity and to give me time to reflect and process to process what I would call a life changing trip.
I approached my Haiti trip with a mindset that it was going to be another service trip. It surely was not my first rodeo. I had gone on dozens of service trips before to Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and even DownEast Maine (the poorest county in New England). I thought I had seen it all in terms of poverty and unfair and inhumane living conditions and I was comforted in the thought that I have in fact “seen it all”. Haiti reminded me that I don’t know it all and I in fact have not “seen it all”. Haiti reminded me that the definition of large scale and densely concentrated exists. It is real, it is huge, it is not ok and it is right next door.
I had witnessed the worst possible living conditions a single human could live in or make up in ones imaginative mind.
Upon visiting the only clinic in the area, I witnessed a dead baby’s body covered with a blanket on a cold, dingy, rusty and sorry excuse for a hospital bed. And the main reason for deaths like these are from the simple lack of medicine to cure the simplest of illnesses like the common cold or malnutrition.
I witnessed a 5 year old boy on our worksite on the verge of passing out because of lack of supervision, water, food and love. If we were not on the worksite that day, he would have died.
I witnessed an infant in an ICU unit grasping for life because it was lacking the simplest necessities like food and nutritious baby formula.
With all these struggles mentioned, they do not outweigh the amazing stories and positive experiences my self and my team was able to share together and with our new Haitian friends and family.
Our trip had raised enough funds to start the very important phase of building the foundation of the Mercy Hospital Construction Project. Our team and workers worked tirelessly to build the foundation without use of any machines. Thats right! Every rock and cement mix used used was moved hand by hand by all of us. The hospital will be a new model of what hospitals can be in the area and will have the necessary resources to support children in the basics of care that they need.
Throughout the week I learned to love the uniqueness and laid back attitude of Haitian culture. It is an attitude that I believe Americans can learn from as many Americans are in a face-paced mindset and can tend to miss key experiences and opportunities they would otherwise have taken advantage of if they slowed down.
I also began to make several observations and realizations but I will mention one main one here. I noticed that there is an indirect correlation of Haitian and American emotional and physical value respectively. It was evident that the way Haitians process emotions resembled the framework of that of a child. Emotions came up when they needed to and the root of the problem was easily identifiable and problem was solved for good. American emotions are more interwoven, complex and suppressed. It takes much inner work and time to arrive to and fix deep emotional problems, mainly because we are taught to suppress and hide emotion in our culture because it is a form of “weakness”. On the flip side, Haitians have a tough time fixing something for good that is physically broken. Historically and resource availability-speaking, their culture has been formed around not having enough so they are constantly bandaging and temporarily fixing the broken bicycle to make it work another week. Americans, we are the land of disposable. If something is broken, we replace it, end of story. Our resources are endless.
Although resources are short to come by in Haiti and they need so much help, I am optimistic in Haiti’s future through the confidence in the people. All they need is in investment, love and support. Their way of life, culture and determination will flourish and they don’t need us to tell them what to do. They have their systems, they just need help in investing in those systems to create their own forms of value. From a high level perspective, I see Haiti as an alternative model and a solution to what America’s industrial society has become; a land of over-consumption and waste. I think with a mixture of our logical structured mind and the Haitian laid back inclusive attitude, beautiful things can come out of a continued support of the country and the people of Haiti.
I plan to do more work in Haiti, specifically aiding in the continued funding of the Mercy Hospital and continuing to return to Haiti to help in ways that my talents can provide.
I cannot thank you enough for your love and support for my trip. The people of Haiti thank you.