When I visited Haiti …
While the people of Haiti recognised the hardship within their country, they spoke of the place with great pride and persistently asked me if I like their country. They consistently spoke of how they wanted to stay in their country and help its development. They also spoke about how the hardships they were faced with would force them to leave if the opportunity arose.
Typically when we talk of Haiti we tend to focus in on the poverty, the lack of development, the failed Governments in a failing state from which numerous families in Countries such as America and Canada see the adoption of children as a way of helping. All the same while I stared in horror at the rubble on the streets, the cracked up buildings that were only half standing and the make shift cities of tents on the roadsides, the Haitains told me of the beauty of the countryside and the beautiful beaches.
I marvelled at the low level of formal education and the high level of up to 70 to 80% unemployment. Simultaneously I was fascinated by the craftsman with two years formal education who spoke Creole, learnt French at school and taught himself English and Spanish so that he could effectively engage with customers and not lose business. I was further fascinated by the camp coordinator who in perfectly clear English explained to me how the camp was organised. Gave me clear statistics on the residents, outlined the issues in the camp and what they were doing to try and resolve them. Yet he felt the need to apologise to me for his English and asked me (that only really speaks the one language – English) if I spoke Spanish as his Spanish was better than his English.
I read with mixed feelings of the thousands of NGOs and charities operating across Haiti as it seemed that with the best of efforts all that was being done was like putting a tiny plaster on a gigantic gash.
The truth of the matter is that from my visit to Haiti I came to the realisation that the real solutions to the problems of Haiti would ultimately come from the coming together of the central stakeholders of Haiti with the support of everybody else who is interested in helping. By the central stakeholders I mean the Haitians at home and abroad together with the different people who have adopted Haiti as home who all have a joint understanding of Haitian language, culture, issues and the way of life.
However, they can only make a real change with the support of people like you and I.
Copyright 2010. This document is the specific intellectual property of Susan Popoola. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source. Opinions may be generated