We're by no means experts on Haiti, we've been there once. We do think about it a lot and since our kids are Haitian, it is a deep part of our lives. But we're not anywhere near experts. We do try to keep abreast of news and goings-ons (our courageous and dedicated blogging friends in Haiti - we're looking at you!) and have a sense of the place. A sense of history, a sense of the now, a sense of the challenges, the passion, the terribleness.
Monday, July 27, 2009
We do not glamorize it, we do not romanticize it, we try to remember that every day, less than an hour flight from Florida, there are millions of people in desperate poverty. We also recognize the incredible resiliency of the people of Haiti. It's a tough balance to strike, but one that's important for us to keep in mind for our children. There is both horror and wonder.
When we were waiting at the U.S. Consulate, our adoption facilitator told us our drive to get our kids home was something that Haitians respect - passion. and, I remember standing outside the Department of Homeland security and forcing a swath of space around us as we made our way through the throngs of people and I also had the sense that there was respect for strength. is that the way it should be? I don't know, but it is certainly the way it is - respect for a show of strength. Is there respect for actual strength beyond passion? I don't know.
People tend to think that we are experts on Haiti. And while we don't think we are, truthfully, people in the U.S. are woefully ignorant and unaware of anything about Haiti. Is it institutional racism that we turn a blind eye? Or is it just to painful to admit? Or something else? Are we experts? No, but we've become ambassadors.
There is, however, one thing that I feel completely confident saying about Haiti. Until you have been there, you have no way of understanding it. We in the U.S. have no frame of reference in our world that allows us to build a mental image of what Haiti is. Whatever you think it is, before you have visited, you just can't know.
To me, there is no better way to describe it than this: The first thing you notice when you get off the plane is the heat and smell. By the time you leave, your skin has been imbued, with grit, determination, sweat and the scent of burning garbage in the streets.
Once you have visited Haiti, it is forever under your skin.