It is our last morning in Haiti. I am enjoying the cool breeze and fresh air. The rooster crows about every thirty minutes. It is in this atmosphere that I feel called to write a final reflection of what I have learned on this trip.
1.) Haiti is a land full of heroes.
Father Frank kept reminding us that Haiti is a land of courageous leaders. Though history books and the internet tell us that Haiti is a land of sadness and poverty, I can say through a first witness account that it is so much more. This week we met a man or woman who showed us what a wonderful place Haiti is through their eyes. We met people who dedicated their whole lives to providing service for their neighbors and country (as you can see through previous posts). And though Father Frank introduced us to heroes that he has come to know, I also appreciated getting to know him as a hero of Haiti. People like Father Frank are selfless in their service. It is beautiful to see how rooted in Haiti he is.
2.) Wealth is not material.
Before coming here, my friends and family constantly reminded me of the one fact they knew about Haiti: "Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere." And though this may be true, Haiti is rich in many other aspects. Looking back on all of my travels, I can say that I have never felt more welcomed as I did here in Haiti. Everywhere we went, whether in the back of a van or on foot, people would smile and call out a "Bonjour". The children had no weariness when strangers filtered in to their schools. The welcomed us with open arms (they actually welcomed us with kisses on cheeks and hugs). They continued to talk with us even when we did not understand. The love and compassion that I have witnessed does not compare to anything I have witnessed in my own country. I think that is why it is hard to leave today! I have been so welcomed here that it feels natural.
3.) Haiti is investing.
Many of the places we went, I noticed a theme: Haiti is investing in its future. Whether our Haitian heroes were investing in their children or making strides towards becoming financially independent, the people here are making an investment. I loved hearing that the Rainbow House began raising chickens and that a local restaurant already had interest in buying them. Or that a school within a village was creating an elaborate fish pond (see prior posts) to provide fresh meat to its students. I also witnessed many leaders investing in the education of children and providing opportunity. This was a beautiful part of Haiti. Their is a sense of community. My feelings of sadness and hopelessness I felt the first few days I was here have been replaced with hope for Haiti's investment in its future.
I am so glad that I have had this opportunity. I fell in love with my group members, and I fell in love with this beautiful country. I hope this isn't a goodbye to Haiti, but rather a see you later.
We'll see everyone back home soon,