Another tragedy. Blow after blow Haiti takes another hit. The stories never end. We hear the big ones, but there are so many unfathomable daily tragedies that go unnoticed. My eight years in Haiti has made my heart so fragile. Every day I hear of a tragedy that would cripple for life in America. Another baby has died. Another shooting. Another one with cancer. Another domestic abuse situation. Another mother at the gate begging to give her child up because she is hungry.
The silver lining on a hurricane or an earthquake is that people take a moment to notice the struggle for a minute before they go back to their football games, mall trips, and Starbucks outings. They look over, like a rescue helicopter over troubled waters, and Haiti has a chance to flash an SOS that might for once be noticed. Haiti is a small island nation. With a concerted effort, it wouldn’t be a huge endeavor to change things radically- if there was a way to do it well.
But countries have sovereignty. And should be able to internally rise up. We can’t just bully our way in and fix it. Even if we know the rising up might never occur.
And so we watch with hands tied hoping that maybe we can throw enough rice at the problem to keep them from suffering or dying while they sort it out.
I watch the plot unfold as the missionary crowd springs into action with their smaller and more grassroots plans. A neighbor hops in his car and drives two hours to assess the damage. He comes back with names of families who lost it all. A plan gets set into motion to help a few families here and there with homes.
The bigger NGOs like the UN are organizing help from the air. Planes and helicopters start circling overhead like in the days of the earthquake. Food water, rations are planned out by the big organizations as well as the Ma and Pas. Haiti will be at the center of attention again for several weeks or months until the next big tragedy draws the eye of the media away.
And life will continue. Babies will die of malnutrition. Maternal health will continue to be one of the worst in the world. Children will still not go to school. Parents will be looking for orphanages where they can leave their children (many new ones will have sprung up by then), cholera will have killed thousands more Haitians, and tents and tin will become the materials used to house those displaced once again.
Nothing will change. Life will go back to the “normal” and Haitians will continue the struggle. That is their reality. Never enough. No opportunity. No jobs. No education. And No change.
Unless we do something that might last past 12 weeks of disaster relief.
*Before I say anything else, please stop and give. Give to the relief efforts. It is absolutely necessary and lifesaving in this moment. Find one you trust and give today.*
But everything will go back to normal. It will of course.
Unless we can invite Haiti’s privately owned businesses to the international table of trade.
Unless we can deal with their harsh reality and realize they might not have their shit together but we make a commitment to buy from them anyways until they get better.
A country never has and never will become a sustainable developed country because it was given rice and beans.
A people group has never grown in self esteem and dignity because of a free meal.
A job is what they need. Desperately.
Unfortunately Haiti doesn’t have the stability for a thriving tourist industry yet or the healthy internal market for work locally yet. They need to export. And there are amazing things to be exported. Coffee. Handicrafts. Vetiver Oil. Mangos. So many good things that could change the lives of people so quickly if they could just get to market.
So today, while you are giving to help the relief effort, make a commitment to buy. Buy from Haiti. Buy Mangos in the grocery store. Buy the shirts in Target that say “made in Haiti” on the tag, and even better still, buy handicrafts from places like papillon-enterprise.com, or another social enterprise listed at the bottom.
People are always asking how they can help! While the urgency of the disaster has us all grabbing our wallets to GiVE… we know that generosity, as much as it is needed in a crisis situation, doesn’t fix the problem of poverty. Poverty is what makes people vulnerable and why over a 1000 people died here in Haiti and less than 5 in Florida. The ability for people to WORK- to build homes, to get education, to invest in their families is what can turn this thing around and empower people out of poverty!
At Papillon/Apparent Project we work on jobs, education, and family preservation… if you want to HELP… Make it a priority to buy this holiday season from groups that are paying their artisans and workers a fair wage here in Haiti. You can make a huge difference by giving the gift of a job!! Our artisans have family in these hard hit areas. When they make money… they pass it on to the places that need it most naturally.
Give today. Your help is needed.
But BUY FROM HAITI every day after that.
Let us be a part of the change.
Simbi Haiti Anchored in Haiti
Bagay Ki Bon
Buy The Change
Haiti Deaf Academy
Ila Joi (From the island rejoicing)
Jasper House Haiti
Little By Little
Second Story Goods
Sewing God’s Seeds
Three Cords Haiti
Vi Bella Jewelry
Trades of Hope
Haiti Design CoOp