I love to communicate! I love to make connections with people! So when I heard about a Haitian facebook group for Haitian missionaries, Expats, and NGO’s, I joined! It is where I found the private clinic where I receive my prenatal care, it is where we can put questions up regarding culture, ministry ideas, etc… or buy and sell items from other missionaries, Expats, or NGO’s! In fact, I am getting a diaper pail from a lady on the page! All this to say, it is a wonderful networking tool!
The other day as I was browsing the page I saw something that caught my eyes. It was a post entitled “Strangers in their land.” There was a picture attached with the post too. The picture was of a large truck with gates and bars enclosing the back so that people could ride “safely.” The truck was full of white people gazing out on the streets in Port au Prince. I was intrigued so I kept reading. The post was posted on this facebook group by a Haitian missionary. She had reposted it from a young Haitian woman who was the author. She said she thought it would be beneficial for us to read as missionaries. It was.
The Haitian woman was very angry because when this picture was snapped it was said that it was snapped because this group of “so called missionaries, was flipping off people and screaming at people and gazing at them like they were animals in the zoo.” Who knows if this group of people really was flipping people off and screaming and yelling, but this is how they were viewed. The responses to the picture were very hard to read. They were written by Haitians who were very vocal about their dislike of Americans, missionaries, or other organizations in their land. Some comments even said “why don’t they just go back where they came from.” It was very difficult to read because it made me question, “is this how Haitians view us?” It made me start thinking that we really are strangers in THEIR land. Not all of the responses from Haitians were negative, some said things like, “there are many missionaries and organizations who are really helping Haiti, we need to be careful about what we say.”
The biggest outtake I took from reading this was that missionaries and other organizations should never come in acting as if they KNOW better than the Haitians or act as tourists looking at the “poor Haitians” caught in a “poor land.” We are all the same…full of sin…needing a Savior. We are no better just because we were born in “privilege” or with “resources.” We need to be culturally sensitive and remember that we are strangers in their land. We are not experts on them. We need to be learners, listeners, and observers. This is something I think CPR-3 does well. We work WITH Haitians to give ownership. An example would be how we work our Child Sponsorship. We have asked the Haitian leaders in our local partnered church to take charge of the program down to the smallest of details; profiling children, leading meetings, etc… We try to blend into the culture and give jobs by using the Haitian public transportation system with our teams rather than a “team vehicle.” We ask our Haitian partnered pastors THEIR churches needs now instead of just assuming that we KNOW them already. There are countless other ways that we are learning this culture and we are in no way experts, but we are at best, learners.