My Neighbors Children

Monday, January 23, 2012

My Vision Has Changed/The People Of Haiti


The People of Haiti

I would like to share with you all some thoughts
on how my vision has changed over the past fifteen
months, and specifically about the people of Haiti.

When I first started travelling down, for my "volunteer missions",
I saw the people in a very simple and one dimensional way.
It was simple, straightforward, at least in my mind.  They were victims.
They were victims of a terrible natural disaster, the earthquake that
hit January 2010, killed close to 300,000 people and devastated the
poorest country in the western hemisphere.  They were victims of
poverty, a bad economy, a corrupt government, few natural resources,
bad infrastructure, lack of education, lack of nutrition, lack of medical
care, lack of resources, and lack of any known future.  These were the
people of Haiti, at least in my mind, during my first trip in September 2010.

I don't know when my vision started to change..............with the
frequencyof my trips there........with my growing relationships with
some of the people,both children and adults, that were cultivated by
returning to them time andtime again...............with my growing
knowledge of the history of Haiti.............notsure when it happened,
or even sure if it is finished transitioning, but I knowthat it has changed.

I have started seeing the people as no longer a one dimensional view, with a
label of "victim".  They are much more complex, and much more like me,
than I ever thought.

These people are mothers/fathers, family members, people trying to beg and borrow to become educated, who can clearly see a past of strife and a future of hope, they are smart if not educated, they are caring and generous although often with nothing to give, they love, they hurt, they want more and better and stronger than they have had.

These people strive to live, but are also homeowners, employees, community leaders, mentors, and caretakers.  Yes, they do it all with so much less than we can even imagine, walk many more miles a day than we can imagine, struggling to find the books, the money, the food, the health, which they need for themselves and their families.

They have personalities, can be funny, sad, smart, smart-assed : ), wise, discouraged, hopeful, tired, excited.................just like us.

Yes, they do this in tent homes, or shanties, or dirt floored one room houses.........while bathing in contaminated rivers.............while eating rice and beans every single day for nourishment (if they are one of the lucky ones)..............while waiting in mile long lines at a free clinic............while hoping a group of missionaries show up with  shoes for their kids.............

No, how they live their lives, does  not look like ours at all.  But, take that away, and just look at the people, and they are no different.  Their minds and bodies all work just like ours.

And, I am so glad that I have learned to see them more clearly, to enjoy them as people, not just as a victim.  Through this I have learned the lesson that we are all the same, inside our heads and hearts and bodies.  Our different environments and circumstances cannot eliminate these facts.  Around the world, we may all look different, life different lives, eat different foods, use different monies, enjoy different pleasures and suffer from different pains................however, the truth is, we are all the same.

I am fortunate that my vision has changed, become clearer, and that I have learned to see these people for what they are...........people, not victims.


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