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?”

“No.”

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. 😉

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To Haiti I Go

“On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?” And Vanity comes along and asks the question, “Is it popular?” But Conscience asks the question “Is it right?” And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.”

I’m going to Haiti on Wednesday. It’s nearly impossible to imagine as I sit here in my living room watching the Today show and drinking my coffee. Still in my sweatpants, I can hear my kids playing and laughing together. I’m already starting to feel that separation in my mind. How do you rectify the two worlds? 

I remember this feeling before we left to go to Ethiopia to pick up Tomas and Binyam. Having been there once before I knew what was about to hit me and so I struggled the week leading up to our trip with staying present. When you know your whole world is about to be rocked how do you stay focused on enjoying the present day? 

I started with the Martin Luther King Jr quote for a few reasons. Obviously today is the day we celebrate his life and legacy but also because that quote kind of stood out today. 

So many times in the last few weeks I’ve felt the urge to back out of the trip. I kept thinking that a sane person wouldn’t be going to Haiti. Of course I feel safe there, but as safe as I feel now in my sweatpants on my couch? Well no of course not. Because there are so many unknowns. 

And I’ve done all but begged my Facebook followers to donate money to buy stoves. $20 for one stove. That’s a coffee date with your best friend, a movie with your husband OR a stove that doesn’t make a family sick in Haiti. A job for someone in Haiti. Donating $60 will enter your name in a drawing to have your chance to go to Haiti AND give 3 families stoves. Every time I went to post I hesitated for just a second and asked, “Is this popular? Will they get sick of me?” It lasted for a minute but I admittedly still thought it. 

But then of course, to combat the doubts I ask “is it right”? Not the actual going to Haiti but the act of annoying my friends and family for donations, the act of putting myself in a position to be moved, to be broken and to see heaven meet earth. And of course the answer is a resounding “yes”. 

I think the tension I feel in my stomach is simply God working. He’s preparing me to not only see the brokenness of of the world but also in me. Trips like these have a way of holding a big ole’ mirror in front of you and revealing all the areas you fall short. 

So I’m going to Haiti. I’m going to see for my own eyes the amazing work The Adventure Project is doing there. I’m going to see how they use local partners to empower their own people. I’m going to see brothers helping brothers and sisters helping sisters. I’m going to see healthy kids who were once sick. I’m going to see so. much. more. And I can’t wait to share it with you. 

Will you pray for me? Will you send positive vibes, light candles or dedicate your meditation to the trip? Will you donate? While there, we are drawing the name of the person who wins the next trip to Haiti (remember all it takes is you donating $60 OR you encouraging enough people to total $60). I want to pull out your name. Because you blog readers have been with me for so long and through so much. I want you to get your chance to be changed as well. 

So donate today. It’s said constantly where our money goes, so too goes our heart. Let your money and your heart go to the Haitian people still reeling 3 years later. I’ll be able to tell you all about it in a few short days. 

Off to work really hard at that staying present deal. On a day like today, I’m constantly reminded how blessed I am by my life. To have the kids that I do and the family that I do. To have the opportunities I do. So, so thankful.