La Tortue, Haiti

Haiti…I am forever humbled.  The profound elements of the country rendered me nearly without words.  I don’t know if I will ever be able to fully describe the weight of my experience during the week I spent on La Tortue; a small island off of the mainland of Haiti.  The journey to get there was one in itself, but the journey of my personal experience is more than I could have ever imagined it would be.  It is one thing to read about impoverished nations and learn about them through film and television, but it is something entirely different to be immersed into a place filled with people who don’t always know where their next meal is going to come from or if there is enough fresh water to drink.  People walk several miles for basic necessities and we complain about traffic while sitting in air conditioned vehicles.  More often than not we place our value in material items and there are people who just want material to put clothes on their backs.  I thought I knew what it was to feel hungry until I saw hunger up close.  In fact, I thought I knew a lot of things about poverty, but it turns out I didn’t really know much about it at all.  I had the opportunity to volunteer at a charity that provides education to the children of La Tortue and I was able to interact with many of them.  What struck me the most was the joy so many of the children possessed in spite of their circumstances, but it was in their eyes where the truth remained.  They were without so much and I quickly realized how rich I am.  If visiting an underdeveloped country has never been on your list of ways to utilize your personal time, I believe you should reconsider.  It is enriching in a way that will readjust your entire perspective of the world.  For me, it was incredibly sobering.  The country is so beautiful.  Beyond the poverty and outside of the cities and towns, it is literally paradise, but the people that live there may never see it that way.  To them, it is a place where the sun rises and sets leaving beauty as an afterthought to necessity.