Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Yeah, it was harder than I thought...

Last week I went to Haiti. I spent time in Port au Prince, St. Marc, and Chadirac - 3 very different communities. And I was warned that the poverty in Haiti is unlike any other. And every time I heard that, I thought "I've been to plenty of rough areas, so this isn't a big deal. I've used pit latrines, I've seen children that are sick and begging. I've wanted to take the clothes off my own back and give them to a widow." But I had assumed that things could only be so bad, and there wasn't a way to necessarily get worse.

But I was wrong.

Very

very

wrong.

Haiti touched places of my heart that I thought were untouchable.

And the hard thing was, I didn't really have anyone to walk through this experience with. I was with a high school team from Charleston, and I was the one they looked to for answers, for advice, for encouragement. I also spent time with our Haitian staff, but they too were looking for answers, strategies, and thoughts on their country. I heard all the complaints and all the praises, and served as a buffer between both groups...both eager to serve the other, but also having to deal with the emotional heaviness of it all.

It wasn't until the plane ride back, when I'd finished my book and put in my headphones that the weightiness I was carrying finally settled around me. I sat on the plane and looked out the window and just cried. I hope the guy next to me didn't notice, or if he did I'm glad he didn't say anything. I wouldn't have known how to respond. Am I ok? Maybe. Sort of. Not really. Do I need anything? Millions of dollars, a non-corrupt working government, and a stellar education system along with clean drinking water and jobs for 80% of the country. Do you have that? Then no, I don't need anything other than that. But thanks.

The problem with Haiti is that the world has told it that its poor. That it has no gifts. That it requires our aid to survive. And so we've brought money, and aid, and medicine, and clothes, and resources. But why hasn't the billions of dollars we've sent over made a difference? Why haven't the clothes, food, shelter supplies and medicine made a difference?

We need to start sending Haiti a better message. Like we love them. We value them and their gifts. That they have something to offer the world that no other country has. That we need them more than they need us. That they are powerful. That they have a rich destiny and purpose that they need to step into.

I believe once we change our message, things will start to shift. But until then, they'll always believe they can't survive without us. But they can.


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