How we came to work in Haiti

Post date: May 11, 2010 1:48:02 AM

After several years trying to find a magic bullet to somehow solve the problems of subsistence farmers in rural Haiti, and trying to understand my own motivations, I came across Alexander McCall Smith's narrator's surmises in Morality for Beautiful Girls. So, it happened to be my mazel (luck) to arrive up in Mon Bouton, some 3500 feet above the plain of Leogane.

Because of a cup of coffee. (But that's another story.)

As with Alexander McCall Smith's narrator, I could not refuse to help persons in need. And yes, although Haiti is not (exactly) Africa, it is safe to extrapolate, "Not that you could do everything. Africa was full of people in need of help and there had to be a limit." Haiti has 8 million hungry people (not counting city-dwellers, who manage to eat every day). So, for myself, in Haiti, I set the limit: just one hillside, just one small mountain, that's all.

McCall Smith's narrator continues, "You simply could not help everybody, but you could at least help those who came into your life. The principle allowed you to deal with the suffering you saw. That was your suffering. Other people would have to deal with the suffering that they, in their turn, came across."

So, I'm dealing. That's about it.

What about you?

So, one makes a choice, tries something, hopefully learns something, begins again, if not anew.

What we learned, I learned, was that hunger is a prime mover. And for most Haitians (city and mountains), any decent work was a good job - if it fed you (and some of yours) on a day to day basis.