New Joy Went to Fondwa, Haiti!
August 31 – September 7, 2019
10 people from New Joy went to Haiti and we came back full of love and gratitude.
I can’t pretend to understand the complexities of life in Haiti but what I do understand is that life is difficult there. Access to some basics like clean water and food are a challenge. Access to physically stable housing is a challenge. Currently, access to fuel is a challenge. But what is not a challenge is access to a community that will look after and love you and your family.
Being in this country for a short amount of time cannot possibly give someone the entire picture. But what it can give is the opportunity to hear people’s stories of challenge and resilience and love of community. We heard about how the earthquake 10 years ago is still painfully fresh, how people make a living in an area where there aren’t many jobs, and how people want a physically stable house to protect their family from harsh weather.
We traveled with an organization called Zanmi Fondwa.
The mission of Zanmi Fondwa is to help families find stability through housing, education, and economic development and one of the ways they live this mission is to hire local people to build stable houses for those in the community. So far, they have been able to create over 60 jobs and are on a path to build 40 homes in 3 years. Incredible! When we learned about this organization, we knew we wanted to know more.
Our time in Haiti was spent chatting with neighbors, playing with the kids, helping the staff out when we could (painting, carrying concrete blocks, medical clinic and pharmacy), exploring the area, and interviewing homeowners that were about to receive a new home through Zanmi Fondwa. We were welcomed into neighbor’s homes to share stories and coffee. We were fed delicious pate’s and peanut candies. But most beautifully, we were trusted with vulnerability and honesty. I can’t express my gratitude enough to have been able to share these moments with everyone that was there.
For me personally, there were many highlights of this trip but two especially stand out:
- Interviewing homeowners that were going to be receiving a new Zanmi Fondwa house. I’ll be honest. I had an incredible amount of anxiety about this. I looked at the questions beforehand and some of them were going to be uncomfortable to ask. But I went. Yes, some of the questions made me squirm but the homeowners answered with an incredible amount of grace and honesty. These interviews will be etched in my heart for a long time. They made me think of Brene Brown’s teaching on shame. She is quoted as saying something along the lines of shame can’t survive when it’s met with empathy and understanding.
- The ‘porch kids’. There were these kids that came to sit with us on the porch of the guest house where we were staying. We played games, temporary tattooed each other, sang songs and drew together. They didn’t speak English, we didn’t speak Creole but it didn’t matter…not really anyway. We had fun... we laughed... and we were silly. It was genuine and I am grateful for the lessons they taught me. They weren’t worried about not being welcomed. They just showed up…everyday…just in case someone was in the mood to play. My hope is that I can start to embody that spirit. If I’m more like the kids on the porch, I’ll show up authentically.