Normalcy in Haiti
Hopefully next week, when you receive the All Things New blog, we will have a big fundraiser announcement! We are not quite there yet, but I will say that this year's fundraiser is going to be different and I think you are going to like it.
The title of this blog might be a little misleading because there is very little normalcy in Haiti. Things are still very challenging and the political/social situation has not changed.
What I am talking about is something that happened last night while I was doing some writing. I got a message from Herbison where he told me that his school is having a party on April 9 and he would like a new pair of shoes to wear to the party. He does some work for us, taking out the trash to be exact, so he makes enough money to purchase a few small things here and there. These particular shoes cost $30.
What a normal thing for a kid to do. He has a party coming up so he wants to look good at the party and impress his friends. If you have kids and have not had this request yet, you are definitely in the minority. Our kids in Haiti often ask for sandals, shirts, phones, clothes, etc. Oftentimes we have to tell them "no" but it is fun to be able to get things for them.
The problem that happens when someone is asking for things in Haiti is that, too often, my mind goes to the state of the nation and how out-of-touch someone must be to ask for something extra, even a $30 pair of shoes. Or especially when the kids ask for a new phone, I immediately think about how terrible the country is doing and how many people are starving there. I think something along the lines of, "Don't you understand that people right outside of these walls are malnourished, uneducated, and uncared for."
The problem is that things in Haiti are not normal, they are difficult, and for anyone who has been down there or really anyone who is a part of All Things New, that fact is quite clear. The difference between culture and life in America and Haiti could not be more different than they are. As such, we focus, almost completely, on our differences.
When you think of Haiti, you probably think of poverty, hunger, need, lack of resources, poor roads, poor sanitation, and a variety of other things that are really very true. When we choose to think of the differences between how we live here and how people in Haiti live, the differences are clear. Even after being in Haiti for the past 7 years, I catch myself thinking that way.
Then something like last night happens, and a kid asks one of the people in this world who loves him and who takes care of him for something simple...a $30 pair of shoes. Maybe it's when Mivinsley complains about having "la bouye" (a Haitian food) again or when I see Gladine get an attitude about cleaning up the house.
The point is that while things in Haiti are challenging in a lot of ways, especially now, All Things New is not just about the country of Haiti. Try hard not to associate our kids and our ministry with the problems of Haiti. If you have gone down and met them, or if you know them like we do, these are just kids. They are kids living a reality that the large majority of us cannot really comprehend, but they are kids.
A friend of mine reminded me of this when we first started going to Haiti and he met Gladine, the girl that he sponsors. I got a little upset with one of the kids for complaining about the food they were eating, and he later he told me about how his kids often complain about the food they eat as well and how blessed they are to have the security, comfort, and love to complain. Someone who does not know where their next meal is coming from cannot complain about what they have in front of them.
Do you know what normalcy in Haiti should be? A kid asking their parents for a $30 pair of shoes to wear to a party. The answer does not have to be "yes" (in fact it was not yes in this case for a variety of reasons) but every kid should have the love, comfort, and safety to complain about their food, ask for a new shirt for a party, or to just be a normal kid.
Thank you to everyone reading this that allows our kids some "normalcy." We definitely could not do it without you. At the same time, let's continue to do everything that we can so that every kid, in every country, including our own, can complain about how their food tastes and ask someone that they love for a new toy or a new pair of shoes.