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Monday, April 27, 2009

In A Country Not So Far Away

I've tried to share on here numerous times the struggles of children and adults alike in other countries, but none touch me quite like the plight of Haiti. I lose sleep over it and when I do sleep I dream of Haiti, sometimes good, sometimes bad, but Haiti is rarely not in my heart or on my mind.

There are countries all over the world that struggle greatly with things like poverty, corrupt governments, endangered children and more. While there are some in America who may struggle with such things I beg to differ once again that it is a BIG BIG difference between American poverty and that like you may find in a place like Haiti. Don't believe me? Check out a previous post HERE that shows pretty well some of the differences.

I think one of the most troublesome things for me is how close Haiti is to us here in the U.S. They are practically in our own backyard and struggling in ways most of us can't even begin to imagine. Maybe it's hard to imagine because they are JUST far enough away it's not in our face. Let me put it in your face for just a moment, if you will....

First, Haiti is only 500-700 miles off the coast of Florida(different sites and maps are giving me different figures.)

Five hundred miles is really just a drive across a state or two for many of us. But this short plane ride from Florida to Haiti is like entering a whole other and quite different world.
Let's take a look at a typical American home, there are probably many like this in Florida, so close to Haiti. I am sure there are nicer ones as well, I am just going for "average" here:

I know there are plenty of much more humble homes too. I myself live in a modest three bedroom cabin that measures just under 1200 sq. feet. No matter how humble your home is, can you say it is as humble as this typical Haitian home?

Now in all fairness, this is most likely a rural Haitian home, shall we then take a look at a city home?

Again, there are nicer homes, and as hard as it may be to believe there are worse homes, I am going for average or typical here. Makes you feel a little better about your modest home doesn't it? Of course that's not what this is about; using others poverty to feel better about ourselves. I am just trying to show you the stark contrast in lifestyles in two places that are only divided by 500 miles or so of ocean.
What's a stroll in your neighborhood like? Maybe something like this?
Let's take a brief stroll around an average Haitian neighborhood, barefoot, just like most of those living there have to:
Let's take a look inside these homes now. This is probably typical of most average middle class kitchens:

A bit nicer than mine for sure, maybe nicer than yours, want to trade for a Haitian kitchen?

I didn't think so. Neither do I. I have watched numerous videos, read several books, and viewed many pictures, and this is indeed a very typical kitchen. Even in some of the orphanages and schools, this is very typical.
Let's get a little personal and talk toilet needs. Again your average American toilet:

Nothing fancy, just your basic toilet. Here's one of the nicer Haitian toilets I've seen:

I am not exaggerating when I say this is one of the nicer ones I've seen. Most are a hole in the ground surrounded by curtains, and in some cases a brick wall.
What kind of clothing does your child wear? I have four boys, but I bet if I had a girl she'd be dressed something like this:

Cute huh? I love the accessories. Here is a fairly decently dressed little Haitian girl:

Many Haitians clothing is far worse. We're not talking about a country where the people prefer not to wear clothing, they do, they just lack it. Often children will share one outfit, one staying in while the other wears the outfit, or one wearing the bottom while the other wears the top. I've seen men in pink for lack of anything else.

Chances are many of you dress your dogs nicer than this precious little girl:

What about toys and playtime? What kinds of things do your kids like to do? What kinds of games do they play? There aren't alot of children with fancy toys in Haiti. Jacks seems to be a favorite and some lucky little girls are fortunate enough to have a baby doll. Here, one little boy gets creative:

If your an average American, this toy chest is probably a bit modest, but I chose this to show what may be an average child's toy cabinet:

Again, if you like many Americans love your pet, he or she has more toys than your average Haitian child:

What kind of school does your child attend? Public? Private? Homeschooled? Over 90 percent of the schools in Haiti are privately ran meaning there is no free public school for them. Here in America EVERY child is entitled to a FREE and appropriate education, meaning if there are special needs to be met, the government is required to provide that even if it is a private school or tutors or aides, whatever is needed for an appropriate education. But for the average American public schooler, your child's class probably resembles this one:

As I said, there are no free public schools in Haiti, so most children don't get the privilege (which is a right and requirement here in the states) of going to school. Many programs such as Compassion and several others though, run schools at their projects or provide uniforms and fees so the children can go to school. Most of the schools are extremely over crowded with all grade levels sharing one building often divided only by curtains. :

Let's talk about the essentials of life; Food and water. If you have clean running water in your home, you are far better off than most of Haiti. Most Haitians have to carry their water, where they get it from dirty areas.

It's no secret that most Americans over eat. I know I do sometimes. Here's your average American meal:

Many of us will down a shake or soda with that too! In Haiti, many if not most families are very fortunate if they get to eat ONE meal a day. That meal usually consists of rice and beans:

Usually those that get one full meal a day are those who are in projects, schools or orphanages, not every one gets to eat everyday. I have seen video after video and read account after account of a family not eating for a day or two, then getting 1 cup of dried beans to feed their family of six, and what do they do? They take half for their family and give the other half to their neighbor to feed his family! Over and over I have heard of this. Haitians are known for sharing. We who have so much have such a hard time letting go of even a little, and here these beautiful people are who have next to nothing, yet they freely give.

I love my pets as much as the next gal, and I am known to spoil them a little, but something is terribly wrong when little children are starving(I could show much worse of photos, but I wont)

And we spend more money on pet food items than we will freely share with our neighbors. The store aisles are just full of every kind of pet food and treat imaginable, and they are only there for one reason: people buy them, and lots of them.

There is a Tshirt that Compassion makes that says it all for me:

I feel if I have money to keep pets and buy treats and such for them, I obviously have more than enough. I have three square meals a day, a clean home, running water, and my children are free to be educated as I see fit. Yes, I have more than enough. Now it's my job to share with those that don't. They aren't too hard to find, you just have to open your eyes(and heart).

1 comment:

Tiffany said...

Excellent post and a good reminder.