Haiti Fact #7:
The elections have been postponed due to the extensive damage and loss of life caused by Hurricane Matthew in southwestern Haiti.
Life here is a challenge. It puts up obstacles that won’t go away without a confrontation. Challenges at work and in daily life regularly puncture the process of establishing stability and routines. The only antidote to such frustrating adversity is perseverance. Over these past three months it was perseverance that made the difference and got us to this moment.
Even after one month in Haiti, the constant presence of chaos and setbacks loomed over every minute of every day. Days went by in a blur of confusion while our problems showed no signs of reaching resolution. But the choice was always simple: try again, or don’t. Was it frustrating that the truck was broken and that we lacked the language skills to move the repair along? Absolutely. But we tried again, if only to avoid letting the first problem win. Fluctuating between embarrassment, exhaustion, heat and frustration, I never really relaxed during the first few weeks. Perseverance and faith, not validation based on success, finally pulled me out of that stew of stress. There really wasn’t any success for a while. The ideology that formed over the past three months developed around believing that this job matters enough to keep trying regardless of success rate. Of course that is not to say there haven’t been lags in commitment or motivation. Rather, the job continues to demand our attention and effort. We are continually offered the chance to accept that calling.
One way to say what’s up in Creole is sak pasè. A common response is nou la, or we’re here. That attitude of simply acknowledging that we are here changes one’s perspective. Rather than focus on potentials or expectations, nou la brings me back to remembering that it’s pretty cool to be here and that this job is a blessing that just wears a heavy disguise sometimes. Nou la helps me appreciate that although limited progress has been made on the to do list, that doesn’t mean that nothing happened or that what did happen doesn’t have value. Nou la acknowledges that life throws a lot at you and that even preventing lost ground is better than not trying. Through the realization and gradual adoption of these ideas, I am learning to appreciate a different ideology.
In the USA, potential matters and expectations are set in order to be met. This process facilitates advancement and development, contributing the high standard of living found in the USA. In Haiti it is difficult to focus on potential because reality constantly gets in the way. The hard-wired and well-trodden routines of the institutions and businesses that make the USA so effective simply don’t exist to that degree in Haiti. The ideas I learned in school about maximizing productivity need modification for Haiti. So after three months I continue to see the importance of perseverance while aspiring to continually commit to this job and to appreciate that nou la is not failure. We made a lot of progress already and I feel better prepared to keep working and trying to improve.
A special thank you to these donors:
Mr. & Mrs. Philip Coles