Building off of the question Morgan asked – Where does my time matter?
My experiences in Haiti have inspired me to take a closer look at my role in my own community here at home. Many of the problems I saw overseas, and that overwhelming sense that you’ll never be able to remedy all of the injustices of the world, seem to have hopped on the flight back with me.
I’m not blind to the privileges the majority of us enjoy in our home countries, but my eyes are also open to the problems that burden my own society. It seems more obvious to me now that injustice is pervasive throughout the world, and not only in the hemisphere’s “poorest country”. Furthermore, the conversations I’ve had in Haiti have changed the way I see those struggling here at home – it feels almost hypocritical to me now to walk by someone in the streets of my own city when I’ve spent so much to travel hundreds of miles to help people in Haiti.
So in my local community, like in Haiti, I’ve started small. I can’t “fix it all”, but I can no longer turn away either. I’m getting better now at recognizing the world outside of my bubble, whether I step out my front door or off of an airplane.
Still, the question lingers: Why do we travel so far away to “help”?
This thought just dawned on me recently, but for me at least, I think it can be easier. It’s easier to confront injustice overseas than in your own backyard. It’s easier to work up a righteous anger with the way the poor are treated in Haiti than to take a closer look at the way we allow the poor to be treated here.
Here feels more personal. Confronting it here means that I have to recognize these problems as partially my own and I have to think more deeply about the ways we’ve failed to solve these problems vs. the ways that the “system” is broken there.
I still think we can make valuable contributions to the efforts being made in Haiti; but we shouldn’t ignore the work to be done here at home.
For people who have uprooted their lives to make Haiti their community, the work you are doing is important, I know that, and it is enough, but for those of us who do a lot of back and forth, I think that the work and progress we desire for Haiti should be something we work for here at home too.
But that’s just my personal reaction, what do you think? How has Haiti shaped your perception of your role in your community at home?
Written by Erin Nguyen on October 1, 2015