Conflicted! What bothered me most was not the poverty I expected but the squalor, the filth in some areas where the people are moving and selling their wares; the mushrooming of people on streets and the apparent acceptance of these revolting muddy conditions that people are existing in. The cars we were in just past by seemingly oblivious of what is around.
Paradox! What do I claim as my home? The United States where I had the opportunity to complete my education and raise my family; or the land I was born and raised for 18 years? There is the pull to be in a country that you care about and yet feel uncomfortable in because you would like to see improvements for all people. I have been in community building for most of my life in the States and yet in Haiti I don’t get the impression that this is an ideal.
Walls are being built 5 to 8 feet high to keep people in or out. There seems to be a dormant mistrust/‘mefiance’ between the people in every social class. Those who have are afraid of those who are impoverished. Those who are destitute expect something from those who have as their due (arrogance) and are ready to get what they want by force or ‘nan koken’. I heard this expression a lot “y a manje w” out of suspicion, fear or envy.
L’union fait la force seems to have been a two dimensional motto for the spark of independence and never put into practice. We should say that ‘chak koukouy klere pou tèt pa yo’ is the rule in application in all levels of society. A country cannot progress with such an attitude.
I have witnessed generous giving, dedication, sacrifice on the part of the missionaries and religious. The controversy is to teach the recipients of our charity the ability to help themselves to become independent of continued handouts.
Many may believe I am being judgmental right now. It seems that some people of the country are complacent in mediocrity or substandard achievements. Wait a minute. When I was at NYU studying administration and management, I had to attend Methods and Procedure classes teaching me how to organize paper to be more effective and productive. I had to learn what seemed ridiculous to some. Who is teaching them? Who is providing opportunity not only for learning and improvements and ways to break the cycle? Torn? Yes. I need to walk the talk to fully appreciate where we were, where we are, and where we want to be!
Even when we admire the past we must live in the present. The people seem to suffer from a sense of powerlessness aggravated by years of neglect and unvalued human dignity.
When we talk about the past and our heroes, I always hear: “koupe tèt boule kay”. We are stuck in one aspect of the need for freedom that is to get rid of the unwanted burden of slavery’s bind. It is time to hear loud and clear from every corner of that land, a rallying cry: “ANN REBATI LAKAY” regardless if we are within the boundaries of the country or outside the country. This must be done with all willing conscientious participants. It is a God given right and responsibility to manage the land that we have received. ANN BATI, ANN REBATI….
Rebuilding morally! Rebuilding the concept of community—we are in it together. I would also throw in two other ingredients: peace and love.
In all the communities I lived in during my journey, we prayed to be one in the Lord and to do our best to imitate Him in small and great ways. So it is I pray.