Haiti—(Ayiti in Creole) means "land of high mountains" in the language of the indigenous Taino inhabitants of the island, many years ago. They are no longer with us…
Deye Mon Genyen Mon - a Haitian Proverb which literally means “behind the mountains, there are mountains” Or figuratively “Things aren’t always what they seem.” Like a traffic light that reads RED AND GREEN, this proverb points to the fascinating and often conflicting nature of Haitian Society. In other words Haiti is “BOTH” : It is poverty, discrimination, injustice, corruption…but it is also goodness, kindness, tenacity, eternal hope, and instinctive faith.
“Haiti is an amazing country. Even though the people there have so little, their attitudes resonate a crazy amount of love and joy. It is truly inspiring to see that.
My love for the country starts with them.”
— LaNaE Meyer —
Why Haiti ?
"Why Haiti?" we believe, is a function of where you are, and--usually unknown to us--we don't really choose where we end up. It is determined for us. We find ourselves in many places doing many different things...Sometimes you find yourself in Haiti.
On the other hand, Haiti truly offers a compelling challenge, where-- if forward movement can be sustained--will offer insights for rectifying similar difficulties experienced in other places. The statistics of poverty and lack of education are disturbing in a country that truly exhibits on the surface, everything it needs: natural beauty, resources, international empathy, and a willing workforce. How then did Haiti ever get so tangled? It is possible to attribute Haiti's compelling needs to three basic problems: "Corruption, weak institutions, and those who lead them." (The words of Patrick Awuah of Asheshi University, Ghana, describing his own country but very applicable for us.) There are more, but certainly not less than these, and they provide a framework within which we can operate to view Haiti's situation, seeking solution.
But this merely alludes to and informs us that Haiti is a place of astounding need and difficulty. Why should we go there? (It is preferable to read more from a place of reflection and probably not while driving)
We are convinced that our opportunity to serve in Haiti is precisely the antidote for our own "American impoverishment"...the emptiness that follows our amazingly arduous ascent to life and liberty--that rushing, consuming, intoxicating quest to make it...to the top...where we find ourselves out of breath and often alone. How really do I make my life count? What is the Purpose and to which Demand should my life be a Response? To what am I available?
Yes, we advocate for Haiti's progress, but the truth is evident. Unless we proceed together, we do not proceed at all. The opportunity for us to progress in our American dream will be found only in our ability to give it away...and this not thoughtlessly and without vision. There is much misplaced giving that leaves its recipient disrespected and dependent.
Haiti is like a cauldron into which the world has deposited some of its worst propositions. Historically, there is the abysmal record of colonization for plunder, the development of entire regions like the Caribbean under the guise of responsibility--responsibility for the sake of the "lower races," that the "upper race" civilize and provide for their ignorance. Under such nonsense the "superior race" in arrogance entitled itself to terminate the freedom of fellow mankind, and Haiti endured the abuses of slavery. Only arrogance can imagine such a pathetic world system. Today Haiti endures vestiges of these careless ideas--entitlement by lighter skin color, government of the people by the rich and for the rich. Do not be misled here. There are many kind and just Haitians of wealth doing their utmost to help their country. But proof is in results. You don't get the Haiti of today without cause, and it all isn't historically determined.
From a different angle, the outpouring of aid to Haiti has been tremendous. It is said that there are 10,000 NGO's (Non Government Organizations) operating in Haiti, helping. Why is it then that under 300 of these are actually registered with the Haitian Ministry of Planning? Is it that we know best? Or how many legitimate businesses in Haiti have been put down by our outpouring of generosity...you can't compete with free. If our programs do Haitian work for them, it merely accomplishes learned helplessness and contributes to cycles of dependence. Worse, if our program does Haitian work for them because in our mind they aren’t capable of it on their own, we are bordering on the racism that put us here in the first place. A prime example, perhaps, is the children. From our perspective parenting is an absolute and the responsibility of any of us toward our children. Yet, the majority of child first programs ignores the responsibility of living parents despite the appropriation “orphan care”. Though Haiti has its problems caused both historically and presently, our attempts at help have been often inconsistent and themselves contributing to the impasse that is Haiti.
Why Haiti? By confronting its problems of today, we are able to shed light on the abuses of the past--squarely facing them, no longer sweeping them under the rug. Is this relevant at all for any of us ? We let you decide, but for LAKOU it is reconciling...even redemptive.