The highs and lows of Haiti will remain with me forever. Suffice to say, in my 10 years on the Haitian side of the island of Hispaniola, there have been many lessons learned, character traits that I have adopted from the people’s strength and resilience. Their faith in God. Their belief that tomorrow will be a better day. The risks they take on a daily basis just to arrive at work. Their dedication to their families and the work they do is incomparable. Day after day of hoping that they get through the gunfire, burning barricades just to make it school or work. They constantly worry if they will be the next person to be kidnapped. Is it any wonder that COVID is the least of their worries? But as the Haitian proverb goes, lespwa fè viv – hope makes one live.
St Patrick’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas have always been associated with the happiest of memories. Even in Haiti, St Patrick’s Day is celebrated among the Irish and the adopted Irish, as too is Thanksgiving. The Kay Christine Christmas party, a day of pure joy, happiness, singing, dancing and sharing, where we included everyone, from our wonderful children, youth and adults with disabilities, to our dedicated team of therapists and cate. Everyone looks forward to it for months, the smiles of joy light up the home and reach out across the globe to all those in the NPH Family who have made it possible. From Kenscoff, to Mayo, to Italy…
In Haiti, I had many opportunities and role depending on the situations arising, including teaching students with learning difficulties, training teachers, learning how to maintain a water filtration system, helping to take care of children with various special needs when they were hospitalized to project writing.
The friends you make over the years become your family away from home. Friends from Argentina, Italy, and many more countries, one of which includes the Ukraine. You acquire new skills which you never thought possible, and new languages too.. But more than most though, you develop resilience.
You wish that teenagers and young adults in the developed countries could have the same opportunities to travel, live and experience other cultures and ways of life. Develop less of a dependence on technology and energy and more on the simple things in life, fresh air, clean drinking water, safety and personal resilience.
Once again Haiti and her struggles have been overshadowed by the war in Ukraine; unfortunately, Haiti is not alone in her ongoing struggles. We cannot forget nor give up on those small and struggling countries. Every child deserves a safe way to school, a home, and to live with dignity.
I think about what happens in Haiti on a daily basis. Sometimes I feel frustrated and angry because the problems feel insurmountable. Other times I feel blessed to have experienced what I have, to know the people I have known, and to receive hope and impart it to others when they needed the most. I always try to encourage in Ireland to get to know the real Haiti, the character and customs, which is so diverse and unique, and not to dwell on the negative. I also encourage to offer hope where you can.