Saturday, April 5, 2008

Why Haiti?

I ask myself that question sometimes: "Why Haiti?" As a nurse, there are millions of places that I could work, so why do I want to work in Haiti? I mean, honestly, it's a dangerous, dirty, poor, miserable place with an average temperature of 90 degrees during the day! Why would I want to go there?

Maybe it has something to do with all those verses in the Bible that talk about caring for widows and orphans. Verses like Isaiah 1:17 that says "Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow." Then there's Exodus 22:22, Psalm 68:5, Jeremiah 7:6, Jeremiah 22:3, Zecheriah 7:10, James 1:27, and Deuteronomy 10:18, to name just a few. Haiti provides an abundance of widows and orphans that need defending.

The need is probably the biggest pull. Most women I know want to feel needed and you really can't beat the amount of need in a place like Haiti. I hated it at times and I know that the longer I'm there, the more I probably will hate it, but at the same time, it's a really fantastic thing. There's something nice about knowing that if I wasn't bandaging this man's leg, no one would be, and if I wasn't hugging this orphan girl, no one would be.

Language is another factor. I lived in France when I was in high school and I interned at a hospital in Belgium during my sophomore year of college so I was fluent in French when I first started traveling to Haiti. As I tell every Haitian I meet, learning Creole when you are already fluent in French is not very difficult. And it means that I speak Creole with a French accent instead of an American accent, so I am perceived as well educated (silly them!). Wherever you want to work, I think it helps to be able to talk to the people in their language.

Location definitely played into my decision too. I have long wanted to do nursing work in Africa (c'mon, who hasn't?) but I discovered that Haiti is a whole lot closer and a whole lot cheaper to get to. Besides, my legs don't get quite as cramped on those 3 hour flights as they do on the 7 hour trans-Atlantic ones. My parents seem more comfortable with me being a day away instead of 3 days away.

Furthermore, there are a million little things about Haiti that make me love it. Of course, for each of the things I love, there is one that I detest, but I'd be suspicious if those obnoxious things weren't there. So as much as I hate the fact that I stick out like a sore thumb everywhere I go or the way that people are constantly asking me for things, I love...

the pigs that live in the riverbed
the mysteries downtown - what exactly does "plastification" mean?

the lifelong friends

the little soda stand across from the orphanagethe way Haitians share everything they have

how hands-down handsome Haitian-American children are

the mangos

soda that comes in glass bottles

the taptaps (and the exhaust that accompanies them)


the fact that Haitian men are not ashamed to hug or hold each other's hands in public

the kids who work with big smiles on their faces

the kisses

the way older kids help their younger siblings

the adorable children who are so ready to love you back.
I could go on and on. There are so many little things that I love about Haiti, so many reasons to want to go back. And I know that some of these may turn into items on the detest list - labouille gets boring after a while and those adorable children can be very overwhelming in their efforts to love you back. So as important as the little things are, there has to be a bigger reason.

For me, that reason is something that God said to me a few years ago. There aren't any specifics: I don't know how long I'm called to be in Haiti, I don't know exactly where, I don't know with whom. I do know that on my own, I won't last down there. The balance between the lovables and the detestables will tip in favor of the detestables and without help, things will get ugly. Fortunately, that's the other part of the promise. I won't be without help. He's already been to Haiti and He's gotten things ready for me. And each time I'm tempted to let the detestable list get longer than the lovable list, He'll be there to bolster me up.

I cannot make a difference in Haiti. Jesus can.

1 comment:

Bekah said...

Hi =) I'm the Bekah that emailed you while ago.
I've read through so many of your blogs and I can't thank you enough. They have taught me so much about the kids, and reading about your experiences is helping me to prepare for my trip which leaves August 5th. I'm looking forward to it so much! Your blogs have given me a invaluable perspective of the kids and of Haiti.
I envy you, Kez. I wish I had enough time to develop such wonderful relationships with the kids.
Thank you so much. =) <3333