I went to Haiti with NOVA for the first time this year but had been to the country 30 years ago. I have the weirdest feeling when I am there. I can’t quite wrap my mind around Haiti. I can’t put it into the boxes or categories that work in the rest of my life.
If you look at the poverty alone, it can be very discouraging. At first I felt so hopeless and overwhelmed. I didn’t want to talk to anyone on the team. I just wanted to cry or yell. Then I started seeing the humor and the pluckiness of the Haitian people and I felt better. They are more resilient than we are. The kids are so cute too and the parents are proud of them, much like we are.
It wasn’t until I saw the work we were doing and the nearby programs, that I started to feel hope. There are some amazing things happening in Haiti. I kept filling up with tears when I saw people making a real difference.
My life in New York seemed normal to me before I left. Then after a few days, our privileged life here seemed so far away. Coming home it seemed over the top – kind of wonderful but so insulated from how most of the world lives. For example, I went into the A&P and couldn’t go to the deli counter because I was too emotional – the cleanliness, the choice of foods – the wonderland that was the supermarket – so crazy different!
Now that I’m back a few months, I’m not sure what’s real – here or there – I guess both. I just know that I want to be part of a program in Haiti that really makes a difference. NOVA does just that.
I was blessed in that when we left this year, for the first time, we had a doctor in the clinic at Boileau and that people would go there if they needed care. I didn’t have to leave fearing for the children who got asthma a month after we left. They now have a place to go. It will be even better when we have the clinic in Martineau.