This is written by Steve Brand, currently in Pignon, Haiti with wife, Robin, and their three children, Kaleb (11), Summer (11), Nolan (11), and Kameron(8). Steve was in Pignon in 2007 and this is the first time to Haiti for the rest of his family.
As I sat in Newark, New Jersey waiting to board United Flight 1463 to Port-Au-Prince, I couldn’t help but notice I was in the majority. In other words, 99% of the people on the flight were Caucasian Americans traveling to Haiti participating in some sort of mission. As I headed to customs three distinct questions arose as all of the Americans muddled their way through the airport.
- What do the Haitians think of us?
- How are we helping?
- Who are we helping?
The immediate reaction of first time visitors to Haiti usually revolves around…how can anyone live like this? The garbage, the lack of housing, the animals, etc. In turn, our natural reaction is to attempt to make life easier for the Haitians.
While making the three-hour drive from Port-Au-Prince to Pignon, we were the center of attention. Nearly every Haitian starred at the six white people in the bed of the truck. Numerous people took the next step and yelled, “Blanc, Blanc, or White, White.” Some young children hollered and rubbed their empty tummies as we drove by.
What do the Haitians think of us? A free meal, a handout?? Some do, but certainly not all.
How are we helping? On the surface we are helping with some construction, some medical needs, and some education. Many people support a child or donate money for meals.
Who are we helping? Of course we save some kids and change the lives of some Haitians. Bottom line, I believe we are helping ourselves more than we are helping Haitians.
Is any of this wrong? Absolutely not. No doubt a visit to Haiti is a time for us to center our lives and refocus on leading a Christ-like life. As Americans we need to realize that much of the world lives on different standards than us. We MUST understand how much we are BLESSED.
This time around, after being here in 2007, I want my focus to be on helping Haitians find Christ. I want them to hear Christ in my words, but most importantly, I want them to see Christ in my actions. No matter how hard we try, I’m not sure American can transform Haiti’s infrastructure to support the American conveniences. The only One who can save all the Haitians is Christ in eternity.