Every now and then I say something. I am never sure where it has come from…but immediately I know it is true. I was sitting with a friend this afternoon, Laura Martin of Ties That Matter, and we were talking about the people of La Gonave. How much we miss them when we are away. What we learn from them when we are there. How confused we feel when people say, “You are so good to go down there,” because that in no way explains what it does to OUR lives to be working in partnership with our friends on La Gonave.
“You know,” I said, “I believe that the people of La Gonave are the best example of what is good about Haiti. The direct line of people who fought for freedom and had the dignity to know they were not to be enslaved.” I was not at all sure where that came from. I had never had that thought before. But I knew it was true. The people of La Gonave teach me every day about dignity, faith and hope. They defy the stereotype of the poor Haitian who can’t seem to get out of his own way that is so often portrayed in the press.
The people we meet on our visits are the teachers at Gros Mangle who show up to meet with us dressed in ties and skirts. Though they have not been paid in many months, they turn up for school to teach each day. When asked what they need they tell us they want a playground for their students. A place to play basketball and jump rope without tripping over the exposed rocks. Lunches so the students can learn better and not be worried by their hunger.
The community health worker, Madame Belgarde, in Trou Jacques who studies to learn how to better care for the people of her village. Cooks meals to celebrate the feast day at her church. Brings a huge pan of coconuts to refresh us when we are visiting and it is hot in the sun.
A young adult who has lost both parents and lives at St. Francois after graduating high school. Studies philosophy and teaches younger students in the hopes of gaining the opportunity to go to college and then to seminary. Hoping for a chance to help lead his community and the less fortunate of his fellow Haitians.
They work every day. Life is hard, but they are proud, generous and dignified. They are our friends. And, when we hit a stretch where things go wrong, as we have this spring, and the batteries at the clinic fail and there is no electricity. When the coffers get low and teachers finish the school year and have not been paid for months, but have never missed a day of work. When both of the vehicles die. Vehicles that so many depend on to get to the clinic and the out-lying villages for church services, we feel sad that there is never enough. They understand…we don’t. They are used to need…we are not. We don’t have their patience. We don’t have their faith. We are accustomed to “first world” problems that can be easily fixed.
So, we ask for your prayers this month. We have had many partners who have answered the call and found a way to contribute to an emergency fund. We will continue to learn from our friends in Haiti and have faith that their determination, faith and hard work will pay off in the end. Because as good a year as we have had….things break, bills remain unpaid and the need is always greater than the resources.
While we love to share our successes with you…we also have to be honest about the need. It is because of all the support that you have offered in the past that we know we will make it through this hard time. We have new programs that are doing well. We have new partners who are full of energy and hope. We have our friends in Haiti who are teaching us how to have faith, to pray and to wait….with patience.
For the Partership