The people of Haiti may be poor, but in a way, we are poorer. The people living in the remote villages in Haiti may not have many clothes, they may live in mud huts, eat mango off trees and dry their clothes by laying them on cactuses, but they do not have $2,000+ mortgages hanging over their heads, car payments, the stress of having to climb the corporate ladder and all that entails, no utility bills, or the pressure of having to dress a certain way.
Being a school teacher and dance teacher I am around kids all the time, so it is normal for me to notice kids and the similarities/differences between cultures. I noticed after spending time with the kids in Maliarette, they seem so easy to please and love. I did not notice any child with symptoms of ADHD as is usually the norm in the U.S. I attribute this to two things (based on my humble observations); 1) The absence of processed foods from their diets. They may not have an over abundance of food in Haiti, but from what I saw, they ate whole foods, right off the trees (i.e., mango, corn on the cob, sugarcane or fresh milk from a goat). And 2) The absence of any electronics, such as TV, video games, computer games, iPads, etc. So there is no temptation for the children in Haiti to be overstimulated by an overabundance. For in America, if it’s not electronics, it’s sports, piano, dance, scouts, etc. We are so overfed that this leads to overstimulation which leads to ADHD and discontent. For we can never have enough. We always want more.
In Haiti, they live simply and appreciate what they have. They have a richer texture to their lives. I actually envy them. They see beauty every day. We wake up and race the clock to get dressed, get the kids to school and to work on time, then to all the other activities that overfill our days.
Yes I envy the Haitian people for their simplicity. There is richness in simplicity. It is somehow easier to see God’s work in simplicity. Our lives get so full that it becomes hard to see what is in front of us at times. Much less to appreciate what we have in front of us.
This is not to say, they are not wanting. They have needs that are unmet at this time. But through The 410 Bridge, they are working in the communities to empower themselves to get the help they need and do it in such a way that it is a positive thing. What The 410 Bridge is giving to these communities is not a temporary band-aid that will wear with time, but permanent long lasting solutions that will change their belief in themselves and God, enabling themselves to quit the cycle of poverty and the mentality that goes with it.
I did not see Haitians that were feeling sorry for themselves. I saw Haitians with a sense of hope, faith and pride in family and community. This is priceless. What The 410 Bridge is giving them is limitless and timeless. The gifts The 410 Bridge are giving the people of Haiti are much more valuable than toys, clothes or food all of which have a limited lifespan. The gifts The 410 Bridge brings to Haiti will last a lifetime and beyond. Gifts such as faith, hope, empowerment, mentorship, discipleship, relationship building, communication skills, reasoning skills, work ethic, and the list goes on. These are gifts that are so much more valuable than tangible materialistic items that will someday perish and only make them want more. The gifts The 410 Bridge gives are eternal and bring wholeness and long-term satisfaction and happiness.
Diane Turner Parker
2012 Trip Participant