I’ve travelled twice to Haiti to enjoy the beauty, the kids and to help with setting up a library and teach a bit of pre-school: colors, numbers and so forth.
Another educationally focused trip is being planned for late summer and I have been invited. It is a wonderful opportunity, so what could prevent me from jumping at the chance, other than the fact that I’m 70 years old?
Well, there’s this letter I received from a good Haitian friend…and it really “gets” to me.
… My fiancée’s name is EM and I want so much to marry her. It has been 4 years since we have waited, but our situation in life doesn’t make it possible. She has now finished her studies in science/accounting and I have completed mine in computer science. But both of us remain unemployed.
Life in Haiti is a kind of hell on Earth for me. Here I am at 32 years of age, and I can’t even build a little house. EM asks me often “How many years will it be?” Her mother asks her this often as well! All I can answer is “soon, be patient.” How I would like even a small amount of money to have a life even a bit like others, and begin a family with her!
My father made such a great effort in sending me to school and today he is without a job as well. I should be assisting him, but that is impossible. The walls I am building to surround our new school property are more solid than the walls of my father’s home where I live. It is not even made with cement blocks. In spite of my pain, my 6 sisters and younger brother have their eyes fixed on me to help them.
You have been a good mother to me, helping me with this school when you can. You are helping me realize this project which may help me to survive in this country of bitter misery…
All of this I knew, but I do not live with these problems every single day. I have visited his home and met his father. I have been to his church. I hear about when his sisters are ill. I get photos of his fiancée. We have spoken about the emotions involved in being forced to wait. I can identify clearly with his burdens.
I am aware that money does not solve all the problems. It is not a good plan to support dependency on financial handouts. But where does one draw the line with good friends? I really am torn. And of course I am not wealthy except by comparison. And so I debate if it is smarter to help this kind and honest man just a little bit more and thus help the little children he is working with, or travel again with my son and visit my friends. Either way I am missing something. No simple answers to such complex problems.