Photo & Story by Brian Stevens
One of the joys of spending time in Haiti is discovering the strengths of her people. Yes, that’s right I said STRENGTHS! Too often when we think about Haiti we think in terms of deficits. And it is true that Haiti faces many challenges that on the surface often appear insurmountable. But even more often we fail to see the strenghts of Haiti’s people. People like Therese Delva (pictured above). Therese was born to Haitian parents in Cuba in the late 1920s who brought her to Haiti. She lives in a house made of tin in the crowded Kafou neighborhood on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. Her home was destroyed in the 2010 earthquake, but Therese, with the help of her neighbors and family, rebuilt her house and her life – after being pulled from the rubble.
I had the honor of spending the weekend visiting with Therese, thanks to my friend Jeff, who is Therese’s grandson. Listening to Therese’s stories of life in Haiti and the challenges she’s seen and overcome in her more than 80 years was inspiring. I’ve already asked Jeff to take me back to Kafou to visit his grandmother again soon. And I’d encourage you to think about coming to Haiti sometime too – not to build anything or paint anything or even really ‘do’ anything. Instead I’d encourage you to come to Haiti to listen to people like Therese. In listening and visiting you’ll find strengths you never imagined in Haiti and you’ll begin to see how those of us who are non-Haitians can truly help Haitians – by following their lead as they identify the priorities for their country and invite us to accompany them in the work they’ve already begun, in solidarity and with respect. You can learn more about Beyond Borders’ approach to working in Haiti by checking out our You Tube page and watching our videos – including our latest on Rethinking Power and religious leaders in Haiti.