Thursday, February 07, 2013

Haiti...part 1

Two weeks ago I went to Haiti. I posted that I was going but have been wanting to really process what I saw and be purposeful about what I wrote. So I took my time and waited until I felt like I could tell you.

Haiti is in pretty good shape y'all.

I'm sure you've read the same things I had read before I left. That it's the cholera capital of the world, that it's still in shambles since the earthquake 3 years ago. All of that. I'd read that and let it affect the way I felt when I thought of Haiti.

But by and large, it's just untrue. In many ways I think that narrative is out there to serve the agencies that want you to donate to make it better. I'm not saying it's good or bad (you can judge that however you'd like) I'm just saying that it is.

Haiti looks like virtually every other developing country I've been too. Many times we'd be driving/bouncing through the streets of Port au Prince and I became mentally transported to Ethiopia. When I'd see a building that looked leveled due to the earthquake I'd ask the driver, "Did that collapse during the earthquake?"

"No. It's always been like that."

"How about that building?"


A source there said Haiti now is exactly where it was before the earthquake. Is it great? No. Is it still a developing country figuring it out? Yes. But it's not what you've been thinking.

I say all of this because I think it's important. For those of you who gave to various charities right after the earthquake and for those of you who didn't. Because you should know there is always hope and there is always something beautiful after something terrible. I learned that from my friend, Jody. :)

So Haiti is beautiful. It really is. And do you know where I saw the most beauty?

In the men making the stoves and the women overseeing the process.

I saw it in the stove vendors and their families.

Let me first say I am not in any way being paid by The Adventure Project. I went to Haiti with them because I wanted to see how they work with their local partners. I ask all of my family and friends (and people I've met only once or even ones I've never met) to give a lot of money to The Adventure Project (TAP). That's a big deal to me. I wanted to make sure that TAP was THE non-profit in which I wanted to put my energy.

And they are. They are doing it. Charcoal efficient stoves don't solve all of the problems that afflict Haiti but it solves so. many.

They keep children who would normally be very sick or even die healthier by burning about 40% less charcoal, thus making the air healthier to breathe.

They burn the charcoal slower, thus making it cheaper.

It takes about 1 1/2 hours LESS TIME to cook a family dinner on the TAP stoves. This frees up time to do other essential stuff like cleaning, taking care of children or working.

The charcoal efficient stoves provide jobs. Because when you donate to TAP you are helping subsidize the building of a stove (done exclusively by Haitians) which are then sold (exclusively by Haitians). It employs locals at every. single. level.

Which is HUGE for a country trying to pick themselves up from such a horrible tragedy.

When I asked a local how they really felt about international aid they said simply. "We know we have to have it right now. But we want to get to a point where we don't need it. We want to pick ourselves up. We want to rely on ourselves. We aren't there yet, but we want to be there some day."

I was told of another agency that bought 10,000 stoves and then gave them out. A local said that ends up taking the country 2 steps back.

Because "charity" has to stop being a hand out and needs to start being a hand up.

That is why I love The Adventure Project. Because their goal is to become completely obsolete in the whole picture. For the stove venture to become a completely Haitian venture. Come on, that's amazing!!!!

Ok, off to take eldest to the doc. I will finish my series on my Haitian adventure. There's still important stuff I want to tell you. This post was heavy on what The Adventure Project is doing. The next posts will be more about the way I see my role in this thing called "life" and "caring for each other" and all of that. And there will be more pictures. Hopefully there will be post with a little bit more of my wit and sarcasm. Get excited for that. ;)


ChiTown Girl said...

Oh my holy hell! It took me about 5 minutes before I could even read what you wrote because I could NOT stop looking at your new header photo. GORGEOUS!!!!!

I can't believe how grown up they all look. Especially Doozy! Look at that hair! Cool and funky, just like her mama. But, she looks like a darn teenager!

The boys all look so grown and handsome with their fresh haircuts. Love it!!

Ok, I'm going back to try and reread the actual post. =)

Katie Davis said...

Wow Tesi...Kind of a bold statement to make about people sending money to Haiti being that "they're all good" and whatnot. It is simply hard for me to believe that things are ok being that I have a friend from Haiti who still has family who "actually live in Haiti"...the part where there is no wifi, no colorful cafe, no beer or bottled water. She kind of bad mouths these nonprofit projects because they spend no time in "real Haiti."

hotflawedmama said...

Hey Katie! Thanks for responding. :)

I in no way meant "they're all good" to mean they are all good comparing them to, say, the US. As I said, I meant that they were similar to every other developing country I had been to. I meant it more as a comparison to what I had thought in my head every time I pictured Haiti since the earthquake. I had seen the pictures and the destruction and was therefore surprised that not much of that remained 3 years later.

I also want to make sure in no way was I coming from a place of "all knowingness". As you pointed out, I did stay at nice hotels and ate primarily at nice restaurants. I was not there to DO anything other than see what the non profit (with whom I am not in any way affiliated) looked like on the ground. Thus, I can't speak in any way to what Haitians experience other than what they told me they experience.

I can understand your friend's frustration at the non profits who don't spend any time in real Haiti, I heard similar points from Haitians while I was there. That is why I was impressed by the non profit I support because their staff is Haitian. It isn't a bunch of Westerners "swooping in" and claiming they know what's best for Haitians. I really loved the fact that it was Haitians helping Haitians.

So yeah, in no way is it ok compared to American standards. I do believe though that it is doing remarkably well for a developing country that went through the worst earthquake this generation has ever seen. And I do want to make very clear that I wasn't doing anything. This wasn't a missions trip for me, it wasn't me trying to help at all. So if what I said offended you or your friend, it shouldn't be put on the non profit at all.

But thanks for reading and commenting!! Look forward to you coming to visit soon so we can hash some of this out in real time. :)