My mind has been on Haiti quite a bit lately. I'm working on ideas for another trip there, figuring out a project I can do there with photography and some children, as well as creative ideas for funding that trip. I'll keep the details to myself till they're a bit more solid, but I'll let it be the inspiration for today's piece.
What do I mean when I say moving forward while looking back? Well moving forward is obvious - a lot of work needs to be done to put the pieces back together there and it's going to take a lot of effort from a lot of people. First the earthquake, then cholera, brought in by people that were trying to help and now the political system in disarray (again). We have to remember that the brunt of this responsibility lies with the Haitian people themselves, supported, encouraged and funded when necessary by people in a better place. The idea that "we", the "developed" nations are going to "pull these poor people out of their misery" and "save" them belongs in another century and was founded out of a combination of missionary values and colonial guilt. But whoever does it, however it's done, it's clear that there's a lot of work ahead. Not only do buildings need to be rebuilt, hope does as well.
How about looking back? Do I mean, as some have suggested, that we should go back to an era of Duvalier where everyone was working out of fear? Or the time of Aristide when there was great hope but little progress? No I don't think either of those things and it frustrates and infuriates me when I hear them mentioned. Don't look back that far, just look back a little bit - to around the time of my second trip to Haiti in 2008 till the earthquake hit in 2010.
This was a time of great progress and hope, a time that enjoyed the greatest level of stability Haiti had seen in as long as anyone could remember. People were working, hospitals were growing, schools were popping up left and right - and the level of education at them was increasing. Preval was a popular leader at the time and there was a feeling both among the Haitian people and the foreigners working there that things were finally turning around. It was exciting, and was the reason for my focus on the pride of people in Haiti.
Since the earthquake it seems most have forgotten that such a time even existed in Haiti. The attitude has shifted back to this poor country that has never had a chance. This is the time I think we should be looking back to. Rebuild first back to that point because it was the right idea, then move forward from there.