We went into this summer expecting craziness because that is sometimes the name of the game in Haiti. It’s hot, there are lots of bugs, and we have kids at our house pretty much non-stop. With my (Steph)’s not too distant heat stroke (2 years ago), I knew I still had to be careful. So, we would like to think we were prepared for crazy.
But, apparently we were prepared for some kinds of crazy. This summer, like others before it, provided so much “random” and different crazy! Shortly after we flew in, we were bombarded with news articles and updates about protests in Port-Au-Prince and Cap Haitian, the two bigger cities in Haiti. They got particularly out of hand as the corruption from both the international community and the bureaucrats was too much for the people to take.
We were totally fine and hardly heard anything in our small, coastal town. However, our first team was unable to come in and we did the second week of camp completely Haitian run. As stories continued, the Embassy marked Haiti as a “do not travel to” country, which perplexed not only us but many of the international community here in Haiti. While Haiti’s protests were out of hand for a few days, it had settled down. That’s when we started to read more and more of the reports.
I don’t want to get into it too much, because this is a subject that I am quite passionate about. What I will say is that the stories coming out of Haiti, dripping with fear and layered in misunderstanding, further point to the necessity of local voices telling their stories. The articles I read and continued to read all shared one or two western team’s perception of the issues happening in Haiti. I just wonder how we (Americans) would feel if this happened to us. Haiti’s systems are different, and what is often perceived as dangerous is not. We had a challenging time explaining this to even our closest friends and it was difficult for us. I am sharing this to be honest. We do not know everything about Haiti, but we trust our Haitian resources and friends completely.
Because of the travel warning and various reports coming from Haiti, few of our teams were able to come this summer. While it was a lot harder for our local staff and partners due to lack of energy and materials, I was also reminded about why we have Konbit Haiti in the first place. Haitians can do it. We are all capable of doing things here without the help of someone from the outside. And, this was so proven to me this summer. We kept standing back and watching our staff and leadership grow in ways that Haitians often times are not allowed to grow because they “stand in the back” (a term my Haitian friend David has used to describe Haitians roles in development and ministry when collaborating with western faces). Here they were, standing in the front and leading!
By the time a team did come, our Haitian staff was so willing and able to work alongside our western partners. We were honestly so blessed by the people who did come. They brought some very special teachings with them that we will be using for a long time. Check it out:
We had dance competitions, games, and water balloon fights in the weeks before teams came, and we had one team send us boxes of supplies to talk about the Miracles of Jesus, thanks again!
We had a team from New Orleans teach on Emotional Regulation from a Trauma Informed perspective, which was SUCH a gift to us and our kids. Weeks later, and we are all still using these methods!
Our last team was Eastern Shore Rep, a theatre company from Fairhope. Hearing the kids share about their dreams and create their own songs and skits was the highlight of my summer, personally! Thank you for the hard work you put into helping our kids share their stories.
We then had a closing ceremony for our 5-week long competition.
We played games, like sack races and egg carrying races and swam in the ocean.
The kids (and all of us) had a blast!
We are now in a “break” period, but this has given us and our leadership team time to plan. And, we are so excited for the future.
We are restructuring Fanm Konbit, our sewing program. We will be doing this over the fall and look forward to more quality products and TONS more training.
We are in the beginning phases of multiplying our kids’ program in another area.
We are in the planning phases of more training: like a children’s school and a vocational school.
We are doing more training for our water organization!
We are SO excited for the future and all that it holds. Will you please be in prayer for all of this? We believe in Haitian-run programs, Haitian-dreamed dreams and collaboration. We are always learning more about what it is about and how it looks for us.
If you are interested in making a donation to ANY of this, please do so at konbithaiti.org. We SO appreciate it and can’t do it without you!