Haiti is a state located on the Hispaniola Island in the Caribbean Sea. It is good to mention that the island where Haiti is located is shared with the Dominican Republic. With a population of 10.6 million people, Haiti is the second most populous country in the Caribbean.
Haitians are often curious about how their country is perceived around the world. Of course, no one can provide a strict answer to this question, but there are some things that can indicate how people around the globe view some country. There is no doubt that the turbulent history of this country has affected the opinions of many people. Namely, most people know that Haiti is a country where coup d’état cases are not rare and where many presidents and rulers were replaced after protests and riots. The last one happened in 2004. The world has also heard about Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2010 when more than 100.000 Haitians died. What non-Haitians remember are scenes of looting and chaos and the inability of people to organize and help each other. In addition, Haiti is known for the high levels of corruption and high crime rates with many notorious gangs operating freely in some areas. This is especially true for people in the USA and Europe that are carefully monitoring the situation in this part of the world. That’s the Haiti the outside world knows. Fortunately, that’s not the only side of Haiti I know.
The Media and the NGOs proud themselves in selling you the images of insecurity, the trash, the little kid playing in the dirt and the looting. They have an agenda, which is to make money. My issue with that is the perspective, not because it’s not true, but because it’s incomplete. The country still has hard working citizens who are not looking for a handout. They are doing everything they can to make sure their kids go to school and have a decent meal every day; courageous students walking to school (Just like I did most of my time) trying to improve their lives; decent family making honest living provide for their families; and a hopeful nation who refused to give up on the country, believing one day Haiti can and will rise again.
It’s the story like SOLANGE:
She has 2 children, one is 8 and the other is 6 years old. Instead of sitting at home not doing anything, Solange decided to start selling chadek just to make sure her kids will have a decent meal to eat at night.
She left her house at 6am to set up on the sidewalk after she is done preparing her kids for school. If Solange makes enough in the day, she would take some from it to prepare a meal for her children. If not, she would just mix sugar and water with bread for them. For the kids to study, she lights a candle because she can’t afford to pay electricity. While life is getting more expensive and difficult day by day, Solange is happy to go out every day trying to make the best of it. After all, what would a mom not do for her kids?
Or story like LORIEN:
He is 35 years old with 3 kids and one on the way. He’s been in the local marketplace since 2012. For him there is no day off, he works from Sunday thru Saturday from 6am to 5pm. He took the kamyonet (bus) from Penier to Delmas 95, a trip that can take more than 1hr when there is traffic. Lorien was lucky enough to find a place at the local market which came with a heavy price for someone like him. Just to sell where he is, he had to pay 2000 HtG/year and 250HtG/ week. Since he is working all day, he saves every penny to find enough to pay a tutor for his kids. Unfortunately, at night they still struggle because he can’t afford to pay for electricity.
In spite of all these financial struggles, Lorien looks forward to setting up his workplace with gratitude and in good spirit. “My kids are my life”, says Lorien while looking at me timidly, then put his head down. He continued to say, “Only God can save Haiti, this country is doomed. ’Neg yo twò visye’. But if I or my kids have a chance to see a good government, I would like to see the road to Port-de-Paix is done and lower the prices of the products we are buying.”
In order to feel these changes, the homeland will have to rely on Haitian millennials as a category of people that has the power, strength, and capability to make some real changes. Namely, many young Haitians born in the 1980 and 1990s and even in the beginning of 2000 have high education and they have the ability to inspire, motivate and empower both children and the elderly. I remain steadfastly confident that there is an army of young dedicated and professional Haitians who will be willing to lead the country if the opportunity was to present itself. They have seen what works, experienced a government that cares about its citizens, enjoy peace and prosperity. These people are everywhere, Haiti and internationally alike. They are begging for a chance to be part of that change.
By investing more in education, learn about the history of the country, and the beautiful places unknown to many of us that negative perception CAN and WILL change. The strong feeling of patriotism and the appreciation of personal freedom we’ve always enjoyed and fought for since January 1st, 1804 will help us overcome the problems that have bothered our society for many years.
Today, my generation like many others in the past also have a choice to make. This time, none of us can afford to be on the sideline, we can’t just observe the situation, and we can’t just say they don’t need our help. In the word of President Obama, “We are the ONES we’ve been waiting for. We are the CHANGE that we SEEK.” We MUST choose and there is no place for indecision. The consequence is too great, the challenges that lie ahead of us are too important, the repercussion is too critical. The survival of the country depends on how involved you choose to be.