Marc asks pretty serious questions:
"Do you feel your work is making a difference? What is the most rewarding aspect of your life in Haiti? What is the hardest? If you could wave a wand and make change in Haiti, what would your priorities be? CHOOSE ANY OF THE ABOVE"
I go through phases where I question whether what I do makes a difference or not. I love it here in Haiti, I've sacrificed a lot to be here, so I always come to the conclusion that I am making a difference - even if it's just to make myself feel good. That's an honest answer.
The times of real doubt come when you look at the ENORMITY of the problems, and at how unsustainable some of the activities we do are. By unsustainable, I mean what I do helps in this moment but what does it do for the future? It would be a long, long essay to get into it fully, which I don't have the energy to do, but food distribution would be an example. Part of my job is to give away food to hungry people. What I give them helps them for a couple of weeks, but they have to come back to receive it again. Distributing rations helps in an emergency, or when your children are malnourished, but what does it do to help the families sustain themselves later?
So I help with the hunger pains for a few days, but what do I really do to improve their lives?
That's where other activities of the foundation come in. I think I make a difference in the lives of the people at our elderly home. When I help educate mothers about better nutrition choices they can make within their means, and I see the light come on in their eyes, I know I've made a difference in the health of their child.
There's no shortage of hard things. It's hard to say "no" to people in need. It's hard to see how women are treated here. It's hard to see the things that people just accept and live with. But, in my personal experience, the hardest thing mentally and emotionally is the lack of trust that seems to be an inherent part of the culture, and comes from a history of brutality. In turn, I don`t trust anyone that I deal with. It impacts everything I do here and almost all of the relationships I have. That mistrust runs from being suspicious that someone is being nice to me just because they want something, to hiring someone to do something and having to make sure I`m not being ripped off. That kind of constant mistrust is very wearing, and depressing.
So, to answer your last question, if I could wave a magic wand to change anything in Haiti, it would be to change the way people treat each other. I think it holds everything back because it is such a fundamental thing. I would make it so that leaders know it`s not okay to be corrupt and only look out for themselves, that men understand the value of fidelity to their wife or girlfriend and vice versa, that teachers know it`s not okay to let your students cheat. I would change the dog-eat-dog mentality that is prevalent. So many people profess to be Christians, and I believe they are (who am I to question someone`s heart) but I pray that behaviours would become more Christ-like, more loving, less self-serving.
But I would also aim that magic wand at the rest of the world. Those issues are everywhere, they just happen to manifest differently in Haiti.