Hello everyone : ) We are currently waiting at the San Francisco airport. We’ve got a good two hours before our flight takes off of sitting in these fancy spin-chairs in front of the indoor Pete’s coffee shop (which Mom was very happy about). Anyway, Mom had the idea to write out four questions for each other. She thought we could answer them now, have our adventure, and then answer them again when we returned. It sounded good to me, so we jotted them down and are putting them up here. (I think my questions were better, though.)
Questions for Mom from me:
1) What, do you think, is the best part about Haiti as a country?
I have to say that Haiti’s history is as amazing and inspiring as any I have studied. After a brutal and hard fought uprising against the French slave owners, Haitians won their freedom and became the first free Republic in the Western Hemisphere in 1804. They also defeated Napoleon’s army and became instrumental in America’s acquisition of the Louisiana Purchase from the French. So without Haiti, we would be minus a few states. Unfortunately, France made Haiti pay reparations for its freedom. Haiti paid in full, but it took them until the 1950’s. So, I don’t want to ramble on, which as you know I can, so let me stop there.
2) What do you think you are looking forward to most? For the way back – what was your favorite experience there?
I am most looking forward to meeting the people and hopefully building relationships. I have heard such wonderful things about the people.
3) What do you think is the best thing we can do for the country?
I guess the best thing is to go and see and learn, then do. The Haitians have a proverb that goes: “Bondye konn bay, men li pa konn separe.”
It translates to “God gives, but does not share.” It basically means that God gives wonderful blessing to so many, but it is up to each of us share those blessings with others.
4) Do you think there is any hope of recovery for the Haitian people?
Absolutely! I know things can’t improve fast enough, but there is a new era forming in the humanitarian aid community. People are beginning to see the importance of partnering with the people they help. We know in particular through success by people like Paul Farmer and Partners in Health that the model is education and empowering local people to implement change. One village at a time. When this is combined with addressing infrastructure deficits, roads, sanitation, safe building practices… things will definitely continue to improve.
Questions for me from Mom:
1) What is the most interesting thing you have learned about Haiti?
Well, Mom had me read all of these Haitian history books, so I know a bit about the country. I think the coolest thing about it is how it was the first nation made up entirely of slaves, who gained their freedom during a revolt.
2) What is your biggest concern or fear about going?
Probably that I will be tempted to pet all the stray dogs. That will be hard not to do, especially if they look hungry or scared.
3) Why did you want to go to Haiti?
Well, one, because it would just be a really awesome adventure to have, and two, because I would be able to help the people who lived there.
4) Do you think you personally can effect change for the impoverished?
I think so. Even if I can’t do anything major at this particular moment, we are going to be doing art projects with the kids, which I think they will really enjoy. I brought my sketchbook, my flute, and sheet music for a traditional Haitian folksong. So at the very least, they’ll have fun.