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Saturday, June 18, 2011

No to fixing...

 In thinking about my upcoming trip, I decided to send out the following email to my team members. This subject has been weighing on my heart heavily in recent months. I don't pretend to have it all figured out. These are just my raw thoughts and experiences. I'd love to hear your thoughts, readers, on this subject...

Often times when we go to the third world, whether we realize it or not, we may be going with an attitude of pity for the nation we are visiting. Please pray and check your heart and make sure before you get there and when you arrive that this is not your attitude.  Let me tell you right now: you will learn that Haitians are not to be pitied. They have their share of problems, yes, but in the United States we have our problems as well. Their problems are just different than ours. You will learn that they are blessing you more than you are blessing them. This can hurt our pride, I know, but that's just Jesus
making us humble! We cannot save Haiti in one week and we are not called to do that and God doesn't need us to. I've seen this attitude in others, which has made me realize I have had this attitude, and
I've needed to repent of it.

Secondly, how can we truly help Haiti? Is it by giving them food from the US, supplies from the US, and turning them into another US? I vehemently exclaim, "No!" Since last year's earthquake this has turned into a bigger problem than it already was. So much rice and other food was brought into Haiti from the US and other countries (referred to as"food dumping") after the earthquake that rice grown and sold in Haiti was more expensive to purchase. Thus, rice growers lost their livelihood and less money was poured into Haiti's economy. There are hundreds of missionary organizations and NGO's staffed by foreigners in Haiti. Yet, Haiti is still in poverty. Why is this? I believe and have seen that much of this is due to us foreigners wanting to give, with unknowingly focusing on a relief approach, rather than development. So, while you are there, in addition to pouring out Christ's love on people, focus on how you can develop and impart what you know and your skills into the Haitians, rather than how you can "fix" Haiti. Get to know the Haitian staff. It is easy to stay in your comfort zone and be relational with the American staff, but I can promise you that you will be blessed and have a very different trip if you are intentional about meeting these people and learning from them.

Along these lines, please encourage those you know who want to give to Haiti through you to send money- either with you, or through Child Hope's website. I know, people often want to know that a specific item that they have personally picked out is making it to a specific child or cause. They may even want a picture of the child holding their new underwear that was picked out especially for them by someone in the states. Encourage them that their money will be put to better use so
supplies and needs can be bought in Haiti and in turn boost Haiti'seconomy. Haiti has underwear, shoes, hygiene products, and tools, not to worry!

While Kaitlyn was in Haiti, she and I, along with a few other of the staff and housemates, read a thought-provoking and extremely relevant book called When Helping Hurts.  If you want more information on what I am writing about, I suggest reading this book. Also, the following blog (with links below), written by missionaries in Haiti, is amazing and speaks along these lines.

"The widespread devastation caused by the earthquake was only possible as a result of economic injustice. Haiti has long been subjected to external interventions such as unjust international trade
policies,onerous debt payments on debt acquired by the Duvalier dictatorships, military interventions and paternalistic charity that have perpetuated the nation’s structural poverty. Beginning in the 1980’s, structural adjustment policies imposed on Haiti by international financial institutions like the World Bank and IMF and food dumping by the United States weakened national agricultural production and exacerbated the poverty in rural Haiti, resulting in mass urban migration that made Port-Au-Prince especially vulnerable to this earthquake."

Thank you for taking the time to read. I hope this didn't sound like a lecture. Rather, I hope this encourages you to think deeper about your time in Haiti and how to serve the poor wherever you are.


Carmina said...

Wow! Brooke! Thank you for sharing truth.