Labeled - A Haiti Story | Adventure
She has been labeled.
She has been mistreated.
She has been looked down upon.
She has been forgotten.
She has been pushed out of the world's view.
She is strong and brave.
She is full of hope.
She is rebuilding.
She is good.
She is loved.
Honestly, it wasn't until I started dating Ally that Haiti was even placed on my radar. Sure, I heard about the devastating earthquake of 2010, but it quickly slipped from the forefront of my mind. Just as it did for most of the world. Haiti is one of those countries that only is thought about when something bad happens.
The day after Ally and I started officially dating, her sister, Lenia came to the United States. From day one, I knew that Haiti had a special place in Ally's heart. Little did I know, it would have a spot in mine.
Flash forward a year to 2015. Baylor, my sister Abby, and I decided that it was time to see why Ally loved Haiti so much. Ally and the three of us decided to go with Harvest Field Ministries, Ally's parents' main organization, on a medical missions trip to Les Anglais, Haiti.
I have to be honest. In preparing for the trip to Haiti, I researched and listened to all the labels the world had put on Haiti. While we didn't have a sitting president being as brash as calling Haiti a "shithole" country. The evidence was clear that the world thought of her this way. My thoughts of Haiti were shaped. I was going to an impoverished nation, the worst in the western hemisphere. I would see garbage everywhere, there would be too many people packed into small cramped homes, there would be little or no infrastructure, it would be chaos. I was going to see things that would make me long for home. This would break my heart.
Some of those things are true. But once I arrived in Haiti, I began snapping photos of the impoverished conditions I saw. I am not going to lie, at first I thought the labels were completely true. I personally felt like a superhero flying in to save a nation. As we drove the long 8-hour drive to Les Anglais, I began to think. My heart is not ready. My groups' heart is not ready. I began to pray that our eyes would be open and our hearts will be filled. Because we listened to the labels that Haiti had, we were blind to the people who were passing by our "tap-tap" bus.
Throughout our week serving the community of Les Anglais, God did open our eyes and our hearts. We were vulnerable and it hurt. However, there was something that seemed to mend our hearts as they broke.
As we served in the clinic, played in the courtyard, went on house calls for widows, walked the streets, something was working in us that was a peace. I personally was quickly stripped of my superhero cape. I learned quickly I wasn't here to save a people. I was here to share a story.
"A story that is forgotten. A people that are forgotten. Haiti doesn't need to be saved. She needs to be remembered."
What was mending our hearts as they broke was the true story of Haiti. It is a nation that is vulnerable to natural disasters. It is a nation that is vulnerable to corrupt governments. It is a nation vulnerable to disease and death. Yet, through the worst of the worst, the people of Haiti have held on to something that shatters all labels. They have continually held on to hope, joy, love, strength, and God's goodness. Something that the rest of the world seems to have forgotten. The story of Haiti is not the disasters but what prevails every disaster.
In April, I will be partnering with Harvest Field Ministries again. I will be going on one of their quarterly medical mission trips and assisting in clinic. This time I am preparing my heart without the labels that the world has placed on her. As a photographer and blogger, I am focused on sharing her true story. The story that is forgotten time and time again. A story that we all share. The Good News of hope in our darkest hours.