I wrote this blog on the plane ride back to Michigan Tuesday night but did not have a chance to post until now 🙂
Well here I am back on a plane, only this time I am headed back to my comfort zone. Back to my family, friends, and my own bed.
I have enjoyed my trip so much. These past 9-10 days have been incredible. I was immersed in a different culture and language from stepping off the plane last Sunday to stepping back on the plane a few short minutes ago.
I am both happy and sad to be leaving. Happy to be reunited with familiar faces, but sad that I am leaving this beautiful country and its beautiful people that I have encountered.
I was asked at the beginning of this trip by someone I know “How can we capture, right here, the sacredness of what you are experiencing in Haiti? I wonder… Must one travel across the oceans in order to discover what is humanly divine?”
This question has been stuck in my head for the duration of this trip and while I am not sure if this question was rhetorical or if they wanted an answer, I feel like leaving this country, I now have time to formulate an answer.
This week I was separated from all familiarity. I put everything that was going on in my life aside and allowed myself to be completely immersed in Haiti. In doing so, I was able to see the reality of the devastating situation in Haiti and the reality of how good I truly have it.
So to answer this person’s question, no, I do not think you have to go to a third world country to experience what I did these past 10 days. However, I do think it is more difficult for us as Americans to experience because we live in a country that focuses solely on the individual. We worry about ourselves before others. Even on this airplane, if we are needing oxygen we are told to make sure we are okay before helping others. Helping the young child beside you before yourself would be looked at as stupidity rather than chivalrous.
I attend University of Michigan in Flint, Michigan. As a social work student I have had the opportunity to work within my community at the soup kitchen, sorting clothes for foster children, etc. I am also able to tie in the happenings in Ferguson and other hot topics dealing with racism, gender inequality, etc throughout the United States.
While we are discussing the reality of the United States, we are not discussing the reality of what is going on in other countries, UNLESS it directly effects us in some way. I think especially in my area of education, this is a very important thing that needs addressed, but is getting ignored.
Now I do not fault the educators or the school for not making this a conversation in the classroom. It is an American way of life. We are solely focused on our well being, whether it be us as individuals or as a country. As long as another country’s suffering is not effecting us, we as Americans do not educate ourselves. Our government or maybe a few private organizations will hand over some money or resources, maybe send military help, but the general American population is consumed in their own lavish lifestyles.
I have witnessed the devastation of Haiti first hand. I have seen the mass grave of 300,000 people who lost their lives in the earthquake; then saw the mountains where even more people were “buried”. I saw the homes made of shipping containers on the side of the mountains where the survivors took refuge after the earthquake. In the past two years I have been to several orphanages and hospitals and met over a hundred of the millions of orphans in Haiti; whose parents were killed in one of the several natural disasters, infected with HIV/AIDS, or do not have the means to take care of them and love them so much that they want them to have a better life. These orphaned children may have special needs, whether it be physical, mental or both, and because of this, the likeliness of them being adopted is slim and they do not have adequate medical care available where they are at.
This trip I was able to be a part of a medical clinic and saw the hundreds of people who sought out medical care for their children or themselves. Once medicine was gone, it was gone and who knows when someone will be back with it again. There was one child that was suspected of having been sexually abused and unlike the United States, where we would get right to that situation, this child will most likely continue to be abused.
In Haiti, there are so many people without an education or a well paying job. To survive they have to stand on the streets and beg you to buy their products and who knows where those products came from. Women also sell their bodies to feed their families because without an education they don’t feel like they have another option.
I am not saying that these things do not happen in the United States because they do and they are horrible. While we have the means to help, there is not nearly enough help in the United States. But there are really not enough advocates for these people in Haiti and in other third world countries.
It is when you are able to be humbled and look outside what effects you or has effected you; once we educate ourselves on the outside world, it is then that each of us could experience what I do each time I go to Haiti. If we continue to stay within the bubble of our country, community, and our well being, we will never truly experience what is humanly divine.