Gaz Kole (pedal to the metal)

Standard

Three weeks I spent in the States and the progress I find in Port au Prince on my return is remarkable. It’s hard to tell if it’s remarkable just because I have been away or because the month of September brought a turning point in the city.

Heading down Delmas, the remains of buildings which have lain untouched for months have disappeared. Near Delmas 75 a concrete stairway leading nowhere is gone, no longer suggesting a complete lack of direction. At the top of Route Panamerican, a glossy billboard announces an enormous hotel and shopping complex coming soon. A few weeks ago it was hard to tell if the working men in hard hats were only bustling around for show and now there is a 15 story tangible form to match the glossy image on the poster. All over town businesses have been painted and cracks repaired.

That’s not to say that everything has been fixed. Far from it. Thousands of families still call public squares home.  The square outside my house has been half-cleared and resettled a dozen times in the past six months. There has been no visible progress on the government buildings downtown. The palace remains half demolished and the neg mawon statue is being used as a pole to connect hundreds of people to pirated electricity.

Still, one can’t help but notice the advancement and there is a feeling of progress in the air. Is it the work of the new administration or has simply enough time past to allow for some people to recover their losses? Either way it feels as if the reconstruction process has finally caught momentum.

Oasis Hotel and Shopping Complex on Route Panamerican

New Beginning

Standard


A unified army of freed slaves and middle class mixed race people fought for and achieved Haiti’s independence in 1804. No, this blog is not about the history of Haiti, but it was Haiti’s unique history which first led me to come check it out in 2005 and eventually led to a call to missions.

After graduating from the University of the South, I signed on for a year of teaching English at the Episcopal University of Haiti. My intrigue transformed into energized affinity and like so many others, I fell head over heels in love with this Caribbean country and her generous people! In 2010, I answered a call to return to Haiti to offer my energy, education, and experience in service as a Missioner of the Episcopal Church.

I am guided by this quote from human rights activist, Lilla Watson. She said, “If you have come to here to help me, then you are wasting your time. But if you have come here because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” Integrating into Haitian culture teaches me to value community, see the Holy Spirit in everyday activities, persist in the face of adversity, embrace joie de vivre, and live with serenity.  Adapting in these ways liberates me! It also presents an engagement as it is impossible to truly value a neighbor, enter into relationship with them, and not take steps for them to share the same opportunities.

But how to respond to needs and empower at the same time? Through relationships with mutual respect at their core. And how to build solid relationships despite cultural and language barriers? With the patience to communicate clearly and honestly.

My mission is to grow relationships that will also facilitate lasting change. Through my missioner position as Assistant Coordinator of the Partnership Program of the Diocese of Haiti, my day to day work includes translating documents, interpreting, making reservations for lodging, arranging transportation, advising new partners, and greeting visitors at the airport in Port au Prince. The Partnership Program connects institutions in Haiti with institutions in the States for mutual support. I strive to be on the ground logistical support and cultural bridge.

Thank you to everyone who supported my ministry in 2010/2011!  As the Haitian national motto states, ‘Unity is strength’ and your support encourages me and gives me strength. Your prayers, words of encouragement and financial support afford me the opportunity to continue my work.  I gained invaluable experience during my first mission year. I want to use this knowledge in the coming year while continuing to learn.

For those of you who would support me in 2011/2012, there are four ways I invite you to do so. One is through prayer. Please pray for me and let me know that you are praying for me. A second one is through offering positive critique of my work when possible. Another is through donating goods that I need or people in my immediate community need which I will post on my blog. And lastly through monetary gifts.

I appreciate and am humbled by your interest in what I am doing.

Thank you for taking the time to read this first blog post of my new mandate!