As someone who has lived in Haiti for almost a full year now, I want to set the record straight for those who are coming to Haiti (or maybe those who have not planned to come based on what they’ve heard!)
Let’s talk about the ‘safety’ of Haiti:
• “Is the food/water safe?” : If you visit Haiti with CPR-3, then yes. We have delicious Haitian food all week that is prepared in a clean environment with clean water. We only visit places to eat that we know are safe, and there is actually a water truck that delivers fresh Culligan drinking water. We dream of our neighbors having the education and resources to one day say the same.
• “Will I get sick?” : Like anyone introduced into a foreign environment, your body will have to adjust. You’ll have to adjust to heat, dust, and things your body has never been introduced to before. However, you are not at risk for a serious disease or issue besides your body’s adjustments.
• “What’s the crime like in Haiti? Am I safe?” : Our Sant Mouvman has 24/7 security as well as a safe environment for you – but really, our community is not dangerous. In both Bercy and Haiti as a whole, crime is not a huge issue compared to anywhere else in the world. It exists, but is a smaller statistic as opposed to the norm. Many people ask what the biggest crime is: I’d say theft, but I’m talking pick pockets or people taking advantage of what they can – not from a twisted moral system or overall immoral society but instead survival. Their families are hungry. CPR-3 has not had teams experience major theft issues besides team members leaving items behind.
• “What about violence?” : Unfortunately, the news sources that report to North America have a history of being biased against Haiti. Please know that as someone who lives here, I can tell you two things: Haiti is on a dramatic upswing and should not be reported on as if it is in it’s unstable past as Haiti is not as violent as the news portrays. Demonstrations in the city (far away from us) happen from time to time, but not out of violence – instead, out of people raising their voices to be heard. Even if this was an issue to be worried about, CPR-3 is not near the areas in Port-au-Prince where demonstrations gather.
As far as being on the field and in partner communities, there isn’t a safety issue. And in the midst of that, here’s what’s so cool that I’ve gotten to see and experience: In these partnerships, as these relationships grow, your partners have your back. Your pastor, the church, and as time goes by the community at large stand with and behind you and they make sure you are taken care of. From making sure you get in the shade to defending your name, from a friend running off to find your missing sunglasses to a family that listens to any story and is ready to go to bat for you. That’s what partnership is about: you’re coming alongside each other and walking together. Neither side is going to go ahead and leave the other behind.
Stephanie Taylor is a Movement Partner with CPR-3 and has almost completed her first year of living on the ground in Haiti.