Thanks and Giving in Haiti
How Founder Hayley’s “not-so-cliche” trip to Haiti left a mark...
I know Thanksgiving is an American holiday, but as grateful as I am for independence and privileges that come with being an American - I can’t get Haiti off my mind...
This week - as I returned home from a short four-day MADI-sponsored underwear drop-off in Haiti - friends, family and customers have exploded with questions and curiosity. “What was Haiti like?” they understandably ask. But it’s as if they’re predicting my response - maybe not the details of my trip, but the outcome.
I’ve come to realize I think people are expecting me to give the typical, cliche answer - “It was so sad…the people are starving…I cried a lot…I left everything I had there…I am so thankful for everything I have in America…I’m so glad to come back to hot showers and constant power and conventional comforts” - but, the truth is... I don’t have that answer.
Haiti was many things - but one thing it wasn’t - pathetic or helpless, and I sense that many are sort of disappointed when I explain my experience differently from how the Media or other mission trips portray it.
I’ve heard stories from people who’ve visited Haiti who said they couldn’t stop crying, they left everything they brought with them and brought all kinds of supplies. I’ve learned, it’s great to help, but asking what is needed in particular area or community before “dropping and leaving” items that may not be useful is KEY.
Why am I thankful for Haiti?
So many things come to mind but one sticks out. I imagine one day I’ll want to be a mom, but as an American I’ve become more and more hesitant as I grow older. I cringe at the tantrums, the disrespect, the self-absorbed and “bubble” lives that seems to be almost instilled in our children. Always looking for the next best thing, not appreciating the “now” or the simple gifts of time with family and friends...If i learned one thing it was how I want to instill appreciation in my future kids to live for the “now” soaking in other cultures, for gratitude, to be slow to speak and contemplate respectful communication. Because, Haiti - in areas so remote with such fewer “comforts” as we would say, the children were SO refreshing. They were happy, grateful, ecstatic about new faces, playful and seemed to respect and truly find the “now” within their families and lives.
What did I give?
Sure, my company donated underwear...and in a physical way, that was roots of the trip. But, when I thought hard it wasn’t just about the underwear. I gave my whole heart to being in the moment and giving to the best of my ability: my ear to listen, my feet to reach remote women, my hands to hold with children who wanted to make a connection, my eyes and nose to soak in the atmosphere of Haiti and pass it on to others, my mouth to pass on wisdom about menstrual hygiene.
Contrary to how many may portray me as a business owner, yes, I’m an adventurer, but I’m actually a pretty big homebody. Usually when I’m traveling in the states (even a just a few hours away) I am relieved to get home. But not this time…this time I wouldn’t have minded missing my flight home if that’s how it panned out…I wouldn’t have minded my email boxes flooding for a few more days in this powerful place. The people, the landscape, the intimate moments in silence or interacting - are not to be missed. I can’t wait to be back.