Going into Haiti, I had few if any concerns. Anytime I travel to places foreign to me, I remind myself that there are people who live there. People who despite my lack of understanding of their culture and how they live, continue to lead peaceful, engaging, and mostly satisfying lives. Luckily, happiness can still be found amongst the Haitian people and the struggles they face. There is still a certain pattern to most people’s daily life. Parents work, students go to school (notably all in pristine matching colored outfits), families eat together, friends have fun, and people serve their community. Life may look different on the surface with poverty front and center, but essentially the social dynamics familiar to my own daily life are mostly the same as those of Haiti. I am comforted by these similarities. Yet, I find it most exciting to dig through the differences and learn from what the Haitians can teach me in my pursuit of the common good.
Haiti, though rich with loving, caring, and community driven people, still has many people who suffer. The country with a poor economic insfrastructure and frequent government instability continues to slowly recover from Hurricane Matthew last October, the impact of which was amplified due to the continual recovery from the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in 2010. Parents can’t find stable work, students can’t afford school, families don’t have food, and friends can be too sick to have fun. But people remain commited to their community. Everyone exemplifies selflessness in their lives and continues to serve their neighbor. Sellers work together inside the hectic markets, never underpricing the mangos of nearby stalls. Sons and daughters leave the comfort of home to work in the United States, who with pride send money home towards rebuilding their family’s home. Celebrations of Ra-Ra still march the streets during lent where communities house traveling bands every week for the evening jubilee. All this giving takes place amongst people who oftentimes need assistance themselves. Regardless of the situation they’re in, Haitians continue to work hard and maintain their vibrant culture. Their lives still have meaning. All people, regardless of circumstance, always deserve the dignity and respect of a human person. Haiti reminded me that this never changes. Despite disasters, the Haitian soul continunes to flourish.