Treasure Island

by 8/05/2015 0 comments
“The wealth of Haiti is its people. If you miss the people, you miss the wealth.”
The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with 78% of the population living on $1 a day or less, there doesn’t seem much reason to celebrate those considered the disposed of humanity in the landfill called Haiti. These poor, poor suffers just waiting to wilt away and cease to live must hardly be able to stand this island of horror…right?

This couldn’t be farther from the truth. While this country has certainly been dealt a bad hand, the people of Haiti have some of the richest hearts and spirits that I have ever experienced. This is where the treasure of Haiti lies, and all it would take for me to realize this was a week in Boukeron this past summer, that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Culture shocked, drowning in a world I had never previously experienced, these are the exact feelings that overcame me as I shuffled out of a battered old van into the scorching Haitian air. A six hour car ride to rural Haiti over jerky dirt “roads” tends to physically jar the brain around in one’s head quite a bit, but my head was whirling for a completely different reason. Driving to this village I had heard so much about and dedicated so much of my year towards, I consistently was presented with too much to look at; my head was spinning from overstimulation. Though dazed, I was more than ready to start what would be the most moving trip of my life.

On this steamy June 5th, my life started spiraling out of my control and directly into God’s.  Timid and unsure, I followed the path less traveled set before me. The day of our arrival sparked an amassed, elevated interest in catching a glimpse of some of the blancs, which we were more than happy to oblige. This immense surveillance and the extremeness of the poverty encompassing however, forced a feeling of slight discomfort upon me based solely on the situation of which I was a part. This contributed to a certain shyness on my first day which I would drag with me like a ball and chain, holding me back from absolutely and wholeheartedly losing myself in these people. However, the next morning I woke up knowing if there ever was a place to be so freely giving of my love and self, this was the place to do it. I dove headfirst into a culture whose language I neither comprehended nor whose difficulties I understood.

As we visited Waunlop, the largest of Boukeron’s five zones, we were able to stop by the school building that S.A.V.E. (Sustaining A Village Every-day) had presented the community three years prior. As I peeked through the doorway of this structure, my heart fluttered as over sixty beautiful children began to sing a song for our group. Soon after the last verse reverberated, a multitude of giggles filled the air; children were rushing among us, my favorite type of chaos was to ensue, the chaos of rowdy, pint-sized kids. Not wanting to miss a second of the action I found a group of children and immediately was deemed the “rocket-ship guy.” Now while throwing kid after kid in the air isn’t rocket science, it is exhaustive nonetheless; thus, I moved on to another playtime activity. With a mango in one hand ready to be juggled amongst a muddle of Americans and Haitian children and a multitude of mangos at the ready as an insurance that our fun wouldn’t end, a game of “keep-it-up” commenced.  As the mangos would always tend to burst into a multitude of sticky fruit bits after a few too many overpowered kicks or gauche drops, this game disseminated rather quickly, unlike the intoxicating smile upon the faces of the ecstatic Haitian children.

It amazed me, not only this day, but in the many more days spent in the Haitian sun that were to follow, how simple it was to understand exactly how the sweet children were feeling. To laugh with them, to collectively smile as I was embraced, here it was evident to me that happiness and love share one common language: human.

The people in Boukeron are so freely giving of their love. My challenge every day is to just try to reciprocate it the best I can; will you take this challenge with me?

-Spencer Beckman


Post a Comment