Reflections during trip to Haiti, April 7, 2017
I’ve been spending time this past week listening to videos and reading about the Haitian Creole (or Kreyol) language. I’ve been memorizing word lists and phrases, hoping to be able to engage people in at least brief convesation. Why? What are my motives? How much is it a desire to connect with people and to show them that I care enough to try to learn their language? To what extent is it a function of my idyll curiosity and hobby of learning to speak a little bit of lots of different languages? Or, is it a matter of showing off my language-learning ability? Can we ever have pure motives, or do we always mix care for others with serving our own sense of self?
I am grateful for Chris and Gordon, who have organized this trip, and all ten people in our travel group who have committed to this week-long adventure. Jeannine organized the purchase and packing of gift packages for the women and children of the Eco Villages. We look forward to seeing the excitement on the faces of the moms and kids when they open their gift boxes. I also appreciate the folks who packed and figured out how to check large, heavy boxes containing a disassembled pedal-powered sewing machine. I trust that this machine will be put to good use to make school uniforms for the children and also as a source of livelihood for women in the villages.
Sitting alone in row 1, with a view out the window to my left as we fly over Georgia, looking down on the countryside and highways I feel detached. I read, then nap, then read and I listen to music, a video by a West African singer, Sona Jobarteh, and her ensemble playing traditional instruments. I read from the book, The Soloist, by Steven Lopez, and reflected on compassion. Lopez learned to develop compassion and understanding of mental illness and homelessness by befriending a street musician in LA. How can I, how can we, develop compassion and understanding of people in the countryside of Haiti who live their lives so close and yet so far from our privileged lives as affluent white people in Atlanta? Can we connect meaningfully with individuals in Haiti and help to share their stories with friends and family back home?