Kim Hudson: Haiti trip inspires different look at our world

Hudson 4-9

You know how sometimes you take a picture and it just doesn’t capture the image like you hoped it would?

I’m going to state up front – before I even begin – that I know my words will not do justice to the incredible experience I had in Haiti. But do me a favor before you begin to read, erase whatever preconceived notions you have about Haiti and its people – and read with an open mind.

I spent eight days in this beautiful country with a group of amazing people. Trust me – not everything went smoothly. From almost missing our first flight to sleeping on a roof in the rain and not showering for five days – still, I can honestly say I loved everything about this trip.

Haiti is incredibly beautiful and devastating at the same time. From the moment we left the airport I was overwhelmed with what I saw (and smelled and heard).

The country is still recovering from the 7.0 earthquake that hit their capital, Port-au-Prince in 2010, but it was obvious that some of the devastation was in place long before the earthquake.

The people of Haiti are missing some of the very basics that we take for granted every day; safe drinking water, electricity and working plumbing and trash removal. The amount of trash lying around was overwhelming. The comforts of running water and safe drinking water are almost nonexistent. The living conditions of so many are deplorable.

And yet … there was something remarkable about the people. Something completely unexpected.

As we drove through streets of rubble, full of people and dust and trash, I didn’t feel a sense of despair or desolation. I felt a sense of joy and community.

In the midst of some of the poorest conditions I’ve ever seen, the people of Haiti are joyful. They have so little yet they welcomed us to their country and were willing to share whatever they had. Many speak English and they reveled at the opportunity to practice. They patiently tried to teach us Creole and celebrated when we learned a word or two.

We traveled to multiple areas of Haiti and it was the same everywhere we went. We visited orphanages and market places and I spoke to everyone I could along the way.

I watched as men shined the tennis shoes of others on dusty road ways. I listened as students told me they were looking for jobs but there were no opportunities. I cried as children held my hands in orphanages where they are simply grateful for a bed and a roof over their heads. Where rooms were empty and water was unsafe to drink.

There is a Haitian word that my group learned on our trip that truly symbolizes their way of life. Degaje (pronounced day ga jay) which means to do the best with what you have. In a country that has so little they are able to look past their circumstances and find joy and gratitude and a sense of pride.

It’s impossible not to leave a bit of my heart in Haiti.

And it’s impossible not to view the world a little differently.

I want to encourage everyone to be more thankful, more grateful and more joyful. To follow in the footsteps of those who have so little and yet are willing to give so much. Degaje Salisbury, degaje!

Contact Kim Hudson at tkhudson@comcast.net.

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