"Now I know Haiti doesn't need me to help it, Haiti needs me to be a cheerleader. A catalyst." Guest post by Shannon Kelley
It's your typical story. I came to Haiti on a missions trip and fell in
love with this country. I didn't know much about Haiti then-only what I
perceived through my American colored glasses and what the media
portrayed. Although, ironically, I looked around then and thought I knew
how to help. Silly me. Looking back I now realize that wasn't true at all.
I went home-sat in the Miami airport and told my friend "I think Haiti is
my home"- sold everything, packed up and moved here. I spent the next
year and a half realizing I knew nothing about Haiti or how to truly help.
I lived as close as I could to Haitian-not behind big walls but in their
community, getting water from a well with them, doing life with them. As
the perceptions of what I thought of Haiti when I first arrived fell away,
I only fell deeper in love with this country.
Haiti taught me more than I could have ever imagined.
Haiti taught me how to love. How to truly help without the guise of
organizations. How to live simply. How to enjoy the moment. How to
laugh. How to appreciate beauty, survive hardship, help your neighbor,
Haiti saved me.
Years ago when I was boarding that plane I would have never imagined the
life I was going to find was one of beauty. I got on that plane thinking
I was going to a third world nation to struggle and "do good". Now I know
I was really going to find hope and beauty in ways I didn't expect.
It is walking down a dirt path holding hands under a blanket of stars.
It is jumping into the crystal clear Caribbean Sea.
It is eating grilled lobster on the beach with a guy playing the most
beautiful music with just a stick and empty rum jar.
It is mountains meeting beautiful beaches.
It is laughing-truly laughing.
It is watching the goats getting herded home in the afternoons.
It is littles in their uniform walking to school in the morning.
Now I know Haiti doesn't need me to help it, Haiti needs me to be a
cheerleader. A catalyst.
If you tell a child they are naughty, they will-after a while-believe they
are naughty. If you tell a girl she is ugly, she will look in the mirror
and here your voice in her head. If you abuse someone long enough, they
come to identify themselves with that. I personally believe that we have
more power and responsibility than we realize in the history and fate of
this nation by how we perceive it and what is said of it.
It is time, my friends, to start telling Haiti that she is beauty. She is
worth it. She can succeed. It is time to join together and make our voice
strong. Because L'Union Fait La Force.
Shannon Kelley lives in Port Salut, Haiti where she manages Dan's Creek
Hotel as well as writes her journey on her blog,
www.shannon-kelley.com/blog. She is a former wedding photographer and
believes in Haiti as a wedding destination. She is founder and editor of
Haiti Weddings, a Haitian wedding resource at www.haitiweddings.com. Her
favorite Haitian food is Dous-a coconut candy, and every Sunday afternoon
you can find her at the local beach eating fresh grilled lobster:)