Haiti is an interesting place to be as an NGO (non-governmental organization) worker. Since the Earthquake in 2010 that took over 100,000 lives, Haiti has received floods of people trying to fix all of their problems (Haiti has the highest density of NGO's per capita as shown in the image). The sudden stampede of aid actually hindered Haiti because of the non-empowering tactics many organizations took to solve all of the catastrophic issues. They made empty promises to rebuild and provide stability, only to jump ship and leave jobs unfinished.
There is also a large stereotype that many NGO workers fall into - some call it white savior complex. Since I refuse to be categorized as a missionary, I felt extremely awkward arriving to the airport with all of missionaries who lead their efforts with their Bibles. For the record, Trek is not a missionary trip. I am more interested in forming human relationships that empower, ignite passion and initiate positive change, rather than placing religion on people, or reaffirming my beliefs by helping “the poor”. Can someone please define poor for me? Another pet peeve of mine is the sense of solidarity that many (not all) missionary groups lack - I firmly believe that living with people and putting everyone on an equal playing field will yield the most success and joy, unlike staying in luxury NGO hotels. Also, it drives me absolutely nuts that communities have gigantic churches big enough to house hundreds of school children, yet they do not even have a proper school to send their students. Next time you donate to help build a church, please think about that. But, with everything said, different strokes for different folks, am I right?
So, back to my two treks. It was inevitable - at first, I just didn’t feel like I belonged in Haiti. What good was I going to do here? I finally took a deep breath, opened my heart to the people and my outlook on things changed significantly.