I didn’t realize how difficult it was to capture thoughts coherently in a blog until today. Below is one train of thought that has been pacing through my mind…
You know how in winter when there is a big snow storm and it stays cold so the snow remains on the sidewalks and streets for days and days? At first, the ground is covered with shining snow and it can be absolutely breathtaking. But, after about a week, the remaining snow that is piled up in gutters and sidewalks becomes covered in soot, dirt, grime and car exhaust, until it is the color of charcoal – instead of the pristine and beautiful individual flakes of snow it once was?
Now picture what the snow would look like if you increased the population density by 10, removed any sort of emission regulation on the vehicles that traveled the roads, 9 of 10 concrete buildings crushed beneath themselves, there were no sidewalks, and over 8 months had passed by instead of 1 week.
As I sit here on the hammock I strung up earlier this week – slowly swaying in the warm evening breeze you would expect of a Caribbean summer’s night – I can’t help but imagine the potential here. I can’t help but think of the pristine snowflake that Haiti once was.
Looking closely, you can see that Haiti could be an absolute paradise. I close my eyes and hear the crickets sing, smell the moist and warm air, and catch the silhouette of palm fronds from a coconut tree as I open them back up. For a brief instant I can forget the devastation, poverty, famine, and hopelessness I have witnessed over the past few days. I can picture peace. I can imagine an environment not filled with the smell of petrol emissions and hot garbage lying in the streets. I can see people full of life, energy, smiling faces and a culture all their own. I can visualize charming Caribbean-style homes for families to live in – helping to ensure their basic human rights – as opposed to sleeping on the grimy, urine soaked earth beneath a falling down tarp emblazoned with USAID. I can sense the beauty that I see in the Haitians’ various artwork as well as in their tired eyes will finally
come to fruition.
It’s becoming clearer to me that restoring Haiti, to the paradise it has the potential to be, will happen due to the hard work of the people here trying to make a difference. From one meeting to the next, we continue to meet inspiring and passionate people that appear to have a never ending well of patience and goodwill.
It is these people that will lead Haiti in their unofficial motto (in some circles): “Not to rebuild, but to build right.”
Today we met again with 3 completely different organizations and institutions that would agree on at least 1 thing: that education will be the foundation of the renewed stability and prosperity in Haiti. We’ve discussed all areas and levels of education with these groups. From the early childhood education- where suggested curriculum that will have 0-3 year old Haitians beginning their domination of up to 4 languages; to the primary and secondary education where students can build a strong set of skills and competencies utilizing the latest in technology; all the way through to a variety of University and Vocational options to prepare Haitians to innovate and lead – all of the passionate leaders we have met believe that a strong reformed educational system will allow Haiti to regain its stability.
From conversations thus far, we are finding that groups have different emphases, opinions, and expertise, but some of the perspectives are beginning to connect to one another. Although these differences of opinions and unique outlooks on what may be best for Haiti exist – the government, other organizations, and even individuals are beginning to come together whether they know it or not. Yes, it is taking time. And yes, it is a long, hard, and even politically charged road. But there is hope. And, based on what I have seen this past week, I could argue that Haitians have survived on less than that – certainly during this recent devastation.
It is my belief that when it happens, the peace the Haitian people deserve and the paradise Haiti has the potential to be will be well worth the wait. And, I’m going to be very proud to say that we played whatever role we did in Haiti’s return to that stable and pristine snowflake.