Myth One: Haitians are lazy and are only looking for handouts.
Au Contraire: Everywhere I went, I saw people working, walking to or from work, selling wares, gardening, building, cooking, doing. When we had to take some team members to the airport at 5 (gasp) 45 in the morning, it took us well over two hours. This should take 15 minutes. Why? Traffic. People were heading to work. Truth: I NEVER saw a beggar in Haiti. The closest I came was a man at the airport wanting to sell me paintings. But even then, he’d painted them. He worked.
Myth Two: Haiti lacks natural and human resources.
Au Contraire: It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve been, actually. Stunning hillsides. Terraced farming. Ocean beaches. And as far as the beauty of humanity, I can’t think of a more stunning people. The folks I met this week were humble, hard working, tireless, and dogged. When you look up tenacious in the dictionary, there should be a picture of:
This is Madame, Gaetan’s wife. She defies explanation. She works tirelessly caring for 30+ kids, even in the aftermath of a serious stroke. She is the poster child for the best of human capital.
Myth Three: Haiti’s problems are unsolveable.
Au Contraire: I’ll concede that I’m overwhelmed. Utterly. And there were times when I couldn’t look at another tent. Or another pile of garbage. Or stomach the one billion potholes our van rocked in and out of. I believe one of Satan’s biggest deals is to bring us to despair. To give up and call something hopeless because the need’s too great. I am forever grateful for Jesus’ example in this. Humanity and sin were an unsolveable problem. An impossible conundrum. Yet, Jesus sacrificed to bring us as friends to God. He solved it. In a similar vein, we can be like Jesus when we sacrifice for the sake of another, when we dare to messy ourselves. Will we make mistakes? Yep. Because humans are involved. But that’s not an excuse to dismiss an entire country because things seem too hard.
Help One Now is doing their part, as are many other worthy and amazing organizations. They’re locating amazing leaders, listening to them humbly, and resourcing them to help their own people. They give interest free microloans so people can start businesses. Help is happening, and change blossoms. Below is a house a family built, complete with a garden out back and a safe place to call home, complete with rebar construction.
Myth Four: Haiti doesn’t matter.
Au Contraire: It matters because God loves Haitians madly, with a passionate, joy-infused love. And if we have the heart of God beating in our chest, we have to care in like manner. It matters because this country, the poorest in the world, is less than a two-hour plane ride from Miami. It matters because only 1 in 5 kids here go to high school. It matters because I can’t look at my kids’ school any more without seeing the school we toured today, roofless, with UN tarps hanging between classrooms. It’s not just luck of the draw that my kids get a roof on their school and my Haitian neighbors don’t.
To bring this to a personal level, I had to ask myself, would I want my kids to live the way these kids are living? Am I willing to do for them what I do for my kids?
Are we really all that different? My kids need love (and oh how I love them).
And kids in Haiti need love too.
Mind if I pray?
Jesus, help us to see Haitians not as “them” but as us. Help us to do unto them as we would do unto our children. Give us joy and grace and utter freedom, not feeling guilty for our wealth, but grateful and filled. Keep us mindful of those around the world who suffer. Help us to sacrifice for their sake, to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Amen.