Stripping away the excess... Haiti takes things from you. It takes your cell phone reception, your internet access, your pillow top mattress, your drive thru restaurants, your Starbucks Venti Triple Latte with skim milk. It takes away your material comforts.
But Haiti gives you so much more. In the space of no distractions- there's room for unlimited smiles, indescribable joy, happiness from simple pleasures like a coconut fresh from the tree and a luxury like a cup of ice. Stripping away the excess leaves you with the raw essence of what it means to be human. Relationships and connections are so much stronger.
Sometimes when I look around Haiti I wonder what in the world we're doing there. We - being Americans. A country full of so much joy, of so much laughter and happiness and songs, and communities coming together to play soccer. People may be living in the darkness in mud huts but their lives are so much brighter. Poor in material wealth but rich in spirituality. We've crippled their economy by exporting rice to a country full of rice farmers. Our rice can be sold much cheaper at market and local farmers are left with a crop and no customers. We send t-shirts and shorts when women at the markets sell fabric and local tailors make beautiful Haitian suits... And for the school kids- beautiful dresses and dress shirts. What are we doing? Why do we think our way is better?
It's important to help without hurting. I love the organization I volunteer with (Grace so Amazing) because they work in community with Haitians. The four Americans in our guest house was outnumbered by the 8 Haitians (including two little babies!) and I wouldn't have it any other way. There is a need for a school to serve the neediest in Mirebalais and GSA is meeting that need. The KORE program they are partnering with is helping area families start their own businesses by providing micro loans and building chicken coups behind houses. It's a hand up rather than a hand out.
I always come to Haiti to help. But I'm the one helped. I come to shine a light in the darkness, but I always find that I'm the one in the dark. Haiti is a light cutting through the excess of my American life, bringing joy I never thought possible.