HI Impact Trip By Andy Wattenhofer - 1/18/17
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
We started Thursday off with a plan to visit an observatory restaurant at the top of the mountain just to the south of Port-au-Prince. After a long and bumpy ride through the city streets, our driver turned onto the zig-zag mountain road. The further we got from the core city, the more the homes increased in size and luxury. And then at the top, the cellular towers surrounded the area near the Observatoire Restaurant & Bar, our destination.
The elevation of the mountain peak is at right about the line that separates the pollution of the city below and the clear blue air above. Our time breathing the fresh cool air there was good relief and a moment to contemplate our visit to the earthquake-damaged downtown region the day before. From the restaurant balcony, we could point down to the places we had been so far. From this vantage point, everything aside from the air pollution looked calm and copacetic.
Cité Soleil was a small patch on the north of the coastline, just above a ship docked in the port. The HI kids were in morning classes right then, hopefully anticipating the lunch, English classes, and soccer practice in the afternoon when we'd get to see them again.
Driving up here, seeing the people on the streets going about their day, it struck me how hard working and ingenious Haitians are. After the earthquake, when the buildings downtown were collapsed and inhospitable, they moved their stalls and carts and chairs out to the streets. That's amazing. They just kept going.
Me, an individual in Haiti, for just one week; there's little I can do to improve or change anything. And that's not what we're here for. Haiti doesn't need to be "fixed" by anyone. They already have most everything they need: the smarts and hard-working ethos. But by supporting and volunteering with the Haitian Initiative, we're part of that movement. We can help to give the kids an extra hand, a leg up when they have so many disadvantages to face, and therefore a chance to make their own lives better.
The people are the star attraction of Haiti. Many problems exist, but I've started seeing through them to the energy and spirit that these people possess. That makes me thankful. I am better for what they have taught me about myself.