If you've been following our trip and want to help Haiti, please visit the What If? Foundation's website: whatiffoundation.org. Our trips to Haiti have been inspired by the wonderful work of the people at What If?
Now, on to the blog...We have a special blogger tonight, her name is Zodie Waxman, and here is her account of the day....
After a rather long, restless night of sleep in the stifling heat, we awoke to a small deviation in our plans. Daniel had arranged a meeting with a Haitian historian who spoke to us eloquently about her beliefs in liberating Haitians from foreign oppression that holds the society back from the potential it has and keeps it in a circle of poverty.
She talked at length about how Haitians need more self-knowledge, to know their history, and to reclaim and understand the dominant versus subordinant roles brought about by the colonial past. Re-education of the population was another point that she stressed, a theme which has been present in our discussions over the last few days. Her compelling narratives and opinions stuck with us and inspired further discussion throughout the day about our role as foreign oppressors and how to decolonize our minds.
Once we left the historian, we returned for a few hours to Na Rive where we conducted interviews with the older students who work as counselors for the summer camp as well as Lavarice.
From the student interviews, there were overwhelming themes that emerged. Each student had aspirations to one day be professionals such as doctors and lawyers, to do what they can do for their people. Every single one of them also possessed a strength, perseverance, and hope for the future. We also had a chance to interview Lavarice about his relationship with Father Jean Juste and how his role changed as the assistant to the Father to eventually fill in his place after Father Jean's passing.
From the relaying of his experiences working closely for justice with Father Jean Juste, who was practically a Martin Luther King Jr. for the people of Haiti, to his current involvement with Na Rive and the What If? foundation it became clear why the program functions so well. It is Haitians working together to provide food, education, and opportunity the children of community backed by financial support in the U.S. There is no imposition of American beliefs of what will benefit the Haitians; it is Haitians providing for themselves. Lavarice also mentioned his hope to develop the program further, to reach more people in more parts of Port Au Prince.
After leaving Na Rive for the day, we jumped into a sweltering hot van for a long drive through the countryside of Haiti in search of some water to cool down in. Outside of the packed city of Port Au Prince, the land is lush and green and inhabited by people living in small huts doing farm work. After a drive that seemed to last hours, we arrived at the falls.
They were simply breathtakingly beautiful. But among the beauty was a myriad of trash and some kids trying to hustle us for a bit of cash, although these kids also kept us from slipping to our demise. As Pally put it, Haiti is a place that is full of both overwhelming beauty and sadness. We returned home through a short cut where we saw sights between a kid riding on a donkey whilst talking on a cellphone and moments of simplicity that seemed to be from practically another era.
After a late arrival back to the Matthew 25 House, we watched another hotly contested soccer match between two of the larger neighborhoods in Port au Prince. Despite the giant hole in the middle of the pitch and the fact that the field drops 15 feet, this is some of the most tenacious and skilled soccer most of us have ever seen. We were told some of the players in the tournament are part of the national team. What a treat.