Let’s not lose our community spirit

Hi guys! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and that you welcomed the New Year with a positive mind and open arms! I wish you a lot of patience for all of your plans and projects and I wish that this year, you may be open to the wonderful things that life has to offer even if they are different from what you had expected.

Let’s face it, we all need to disconnect sometimes. Whether it is to empty our minds or simply learn something new, it is important to getaway and make our agendas a little lighter for a few days. Last week, I spent two days in Artibonite, Haiti’s main rice-growing area. A part of my job is to insure the well-being of volunteers working on some projects here in Haiti and last week, one of the volunteers wanted to travel to Artibonite in order to meet another volunteer who has been working  in the education sector for more than five years now in the region. Truth is, I love this part of my job because I get to go away from the desk and discover parts of Haiti that I did not necessarily know before.

I am what I call a “Social-loner”. On one side, I am very open with people and enjoy gatherings but I NEED MY TIME AWAY. It is a mandatory part of my well-being and balance. I need these moments in the mountains or these trips alone. This is why I enjoyed this time in Artibonite so much. Even though I was not by myself, the volunteer living in Artibonite welcomed us in her home. She is a woman from Switzerland married to a Haitian man and they have two kids together. She  works in education by training teachers so they can improve the way they teach to their students. It was very interesting for me to see how they live and to learn more about the work she does here in Haiti. Furthermore, the calm life of the region was very good for us, as the capital is not the quietest place to live. We visited the schools, ate together and even had a morning workout session in the mountains. Yes I took my workout clothes with me because I can get pretty obsessed sometimes :p

What I loved the most about my experience besides the amazing landscapes, was to see how much people in provinces have a sense of community. Most people know each other in the area and even if they do not have much, they are always ready to help each other and put resources together. While we were walking, many people were saying Hi to the volunteer living in the area. It was clear that they all knew each other very well. We tend to lose that sense of union. And it is partly because we live in a society where everything becomes a competition or an occasion to prove ourselves. And this can be draining. And sometimes, we are so busy that we even forget to check up on members of our own family. I took all of these reflections back home with me and, just as life always does, it sent me a test to make these reflections more concrete. One of my little cousins in the States was going through a tough time and his mom contacted me, saying that “Whatever I said to him would make more sense than if she tried herself”. So I called him and we spent a long time talking about life and I gave him some advice on how to get back up from this difficult phase of his life. After our conversation, it hit me “I love my little cousins so so so much…” and, being the older cousin on my mom’s side gives me a sense of responsibility because they all look up to me so much. After that call, I checked up on another little cousin that also lives in the States, asking him if we could talk the next day. I cried a little after texting him because I remember that this season of my life (15-16 years old) was not necessarily the easiest and I would have been happy to have a caring big cousin or sister to talk to. I realized that it is my job to stay in touch and be there for these little ones. I am even working on a little cousin reunion planning!

Moral of the story?  Let’s take some time in our neighborhood, our jobs and even our family to get closer to others. Today, let’s stop and ask a few people how they are doing. As little as this gesture may seem, it can be a source of great joy for those who simply need a sign of affection.

 

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Teacher training

 

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Girls we met during our walk

 

 

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A little workout never hurt nobody

 

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Our host family and 2 volunteers
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