Wednesday, December 17, 2014

"Haiti is the best country"

Last night I was shooting the breeze with my adult neighbors, Bradley and Ketsia. It was a beautiful windy evening and most of the houses on our street didn't have electricity, so everyone was outside. Children were running around, teens were gossiping, and adults were drinking a beer or buying food from the restaurant next door.
Out of the blue, Ketsia asked me, "Do you think Haiti is a good country?" I gave my standard response about every nation having its positives and negatives, and then she interrupted me. "I think Haiti is the best country! The best country!" she declared emphatically. Beside her Bradley nodded furiously. "That's right," he chimed in. "Everyone in the US thinks that Haitians are constantly miserable because we are poor, but it's not true. Our life is good and we are happy."
I've thought about what Bradley and Ketsia said. Life in Haiti is good and people are happy, but what makes the goodness and the happiness so remarkable is the fact that they exist in the face of such poverty and oppression. It's easy for me to be happy with a full stomach, a comfy bed and the security of a job, but what if I were hungry, unemployed and sleeping on a piece of cardboard in a mud and stick hut?

Of course, not all Haitians are in that level of poverty, but they all face financial and health needs that I could never imagine as an American. And yet overall, I see many more smiles every day than frowns, hear much more laughter than weeping, see more rejoicing than complaining. Maybe Ketsia's right; maybe Haiti really is the best country.