Haiti is a mess. That is nothing new. I suppose it has always been a mess. The tragic sadness of this comment is intensified when one realizes that Haiti is the second oldest Republic in our hemisphere. She declared herself a Free Republic in 1804. In 1776, when our colonies were struggling to crawl out from under the yoke of British Rule, Haiti was worth more in real wealth that the accumulated wealth of all our colonies combined. Robert Debs and Nancy Gordon Heinl have written a stirring history of Haiti (revised and updated by their son, Michael ) covering the years 1492 to the present day. The title tells us all we need to know: Written in Blood, The Story of the Haitian People.
Conditions in Haiti are not well today. Widespread citizen protests are in the streets. Travel advisories have been issued. Kidnappings, robberies and worse are in evidence. Caution and Care are demanded by the order of the day. The cause of this unrest? The explanation comes as no surprise. The President of Haiti has been accused of embezzling millions of aid dollars intended for the alleviation of suffering. The Organization of American States has issued a warning that he has to start governing and cease stealing. There are further examples, but one grows weary of reciting the litany of crimes and ills.
I met a beautiful waitress at breakfast many years ago. I said to her: Yon bel jou jodi a. She responded: Toujou se bel jou nan Ayiti. “Every day is a beautiful day in Haiti.” Hope is not the same as happiness when things are going well, no matter how wonderful that feeling is. Hope is not the optimism that accompanies a conviction that things will turn out in my favor. Hope is not certainty. Hope is the intention to do the right moral thing because the right moral thing is the best thing to do. And we are happiest when we are doing it. Forging Futures works in Haiti because we believe our work is the right thing to do. Why? Because children demand an education. They deserve our best efforts. The children of Haiti need us. And it is the right thing to do.
I saw my beautiful waitress later that day. I was four miles from the hotel. She was walking to her home after her work shift. She had two miles more to walk—12 miles round trip a day, thirty days a month for $106.75. That’s why I love her and why I love Haiti. Everyday is a beautiful day. Loving Haiti is the right thing to do.