I don’t write about Haiti specifically all too often. It’s not that there aren’t plenty of thoughts running through my head. Trust me, there are enough experiences here in any given day to write volumes of books.
Three years of living in any one place is plenty of time to take things in, to try and process them, to develop thoughts and ideas and perspectives about what one might see around them. I have plenty of those, I just don’t think that people will always appreciate what I might have to say.
If I’m very honest, I really struggle with some of the thoughts and opinions that I hear from people in regards to Haiti sometimes. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a full believer of everyone being entitled to their own thoughts and opinions, and I welcome conversations and dialogue where those can be shared equally and be respected even if they are very different. I try to remember that people come from all different experiences and walks of life. People always filter things through their personal knowledge and experiences.
What I struggle with most though is when I feel that people are saying, “Haiti is THIS.” Period. If I have learned anything about Haiti in the last three years it is that Haiti is never just one thing. It is so complex and layered that when you feel like you understand one thing, there are 50 more lined up behind it that make no sense or are difficult to process. Please don’t shoot me for saying what I’m going to say, but I often find that the people that are so quick to state what Haiti is are those that really have limited experience with Haiti. And I get that because I once had a limited experience with Haiti. Heck, most days I still feel like I have a limited experience with Haiti.
Granted, I have a lot of thoughts and opinions about what Haiti is and isn’t and what needs to be done here. Working in the development sector and talking to and spending time with others that are working in development it’s natural to share frustrations and thoughts and draw conclusions. I don’t think there is a single person that I’ve met that has all the answers. In fact I find it’s often the opposite. People that have worked in development all their life come to Haiti and are perplexed at the fact that whatever formula program may work in many places around the world just doesn’t hack it here. Haiti is that different. It’s a whole other ball game here.
One of the main things that eats at me is when I hear people talk about Haiti as though it’s helpless and that all of the problems here can be blamed on outside forces. I struggle with it because I believe it belittles the people of this country. It’s disrespectful. Consider. When you respect someone you want to see what’s best for them. That usually means knowing that they need to take responsibility for their issues and choose to be actively involved in the solution. A friend of mine from back home used to always say, “You’re either part of the problem or part of the solution.” At some point a person needs to make a choice. There are many people in Haiti that want to be actively involved in seeing their country heal and move forward, but there are many that also hinder that development. It is so difficult to watch that play out everyday. It’s hard to watch someone you love hurt themselves when they could be healing. I often feel that way about Haiti. It’s so hard to watch poor decisions continue to hold this beautiful country down. Decisions on all levels – government and personal. Just because people are poor does not mean that they can’t be responsible and actively working for the good. I feel like a lot of times there isn’t even the expectation that people be actively involved in the solutions.
I think I’ve said enough for one post. I want to write more about Haiti and the things that I struggle with and that don’t make sense. Maybe I just need to stop caring what people thing :o)