Does it make sense?

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)
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About Leslie

I'm Leslie. Wife. Mother. Missionary. In the day to day my husband and I are responsible for running Clean Water for Haiti, a humanitarian mission that builds and distributes water filters to Haitian families. Living in Haiti full time provides lots of stories, and as I tell my husband, our grandkids probably won't believe most of them. Maybe writing them down will give me some credibility.

8 thoughts on “Does it make sense?

  1. Hi Leslie, Your thoughts on Haitibeing this or that…… remind me of an expression we use to describe Haiti or what it’s like to work/be in Haiti.We say that “Haiti is like nowhere else you’ve ever been/seen”If they believe you, then they see Haiti as being different or unique.I ran a manufacturing feed mill in Haiti for 4 years,so have a sense of what you’re feeling trying to describe it to others.

  2. There is much wisdom in your post, Leslie. Your first-hand experience and life in Haiti and therefore your perspective is vital and valuable, and really needs to be heard. All the best to your beautiful family…

  3. Very interesting post. I came here via your comment on the Sew Liberated site. I have been to Haiti a couple of times, and my husband lived there for 8 years (as a child). My in-laws have lived there (and continue to live there) for 20+ years. It amazes them in some ways that they have lived there for so long, and still don’t completely understand the culture. I totally hear what you’re saying. There is much to be said, but I wanted to at least let you know I appreciated your post! Kristi

  4. AMEN SISTER! I have been to Haiti 5 times. I have three Haitian children. MY 11 year old son who has come home 3 months ago is helping me to understand the layers. Stating that Haiti is all this or all that is as rediculous as stating all black people or all white people do this or that. If I had a nickel for everytime someone said well cant you just this or cant you just that. Or how can a parent give away their own child? Never will they understand the love it took for all 6 of our birth parents to do what they did for our children.Many prayers and blessing in your work.In Jesus, Jodi Jepson

  5. that’s a good blanket statement. it goes perfectly with a shoulder shrug and the haitian ‘i don’t know’ hand slap. TIH.

  6. It is very rare to come across missionaries who would have such positive attitude towards Haiti.I have read a few of your posts in the past,and I can tell you are not very bias.I like people who can critically think about issues and come up with a conclusion. People like you should be writing more often, and not fear what others may be thinking about you. Also allow me to point out that Haiti’s problems indeed have a lot to do with out side forces.A lot of the behaviors that I have seen my Haitian brothers and sisters exhibiting are legacies from slavery. This is not something that I am just throwing up there, but I have been analysing myself, the community I grew up in, and other communities that Ihave had experioneces with and I convinced, we have a problem of integregation. There was no attempt made to civilize the mass of the Haitian people after slavery ended. there are major psychologycal domages that occured during centuries of slavery that have not been repaired yet.well, I have alot more that I could say that, but I want to keep this short. I like debating ideas a lot, so if you would like to exchange thoughts with me, I would be glad to do so. God bless

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