This week, while contemplating the idea of asking for money yet again, I thought back over my life in Haiti and the ups and downs of the journey. Recalling the times I have come forward with a specific need and the response I have gotten the comforting truth that I was reminded of is this, I do not have to worry, I do not have to toss and turn at night in anxiety. There has never once been a need, now matter how large or small, that has been left unmet. From plane tickets to rent every single bit has been provided.
As I thought about it I looked back on the things that I wrote in relation to the money that was donated. A very unsurprising pattern began to emerge, the more heartbreaking the stories I share, the more funding I receive. It’s simple and predictable and it’s really difficult to accept. The worse the pain that my friends have, the more cash I am given… An earthquake crushes the city and thousands of dollars come pouring in, a baby dies and you can add a couple hundred more.
There is a part of me that never wants to tell another personal story again for just this reason. How can I possibly feel ok profiting from the pain of my people? But then, how could I ever throw away the opportunity I have been given to make their stories heard, to give them a voice to the rest of the world. Love it or hate it painful stories break hearts and broken hearts seek healing. God has, for some reason beyond my understanding, decided to allow me to be a friend to damaged, hurting people. He has put me in a position where I am a link between the two worlds that I live in. It’s a job that I am honored to have and struggle with immensely. There isn’t a tear-jerking tale written that has not brought me to my knees with emotion. Those names I tell you, the unpronounceable foreign sounds, come together to represent a neighbor, a child, a friend in my life. They are real. REAL, not a story, not a photo. A person that I love. Every time I choose to make their private, personal stories public it is an exceptionally difficult decision.
For every one story I tell there are 10 others that I just can’t bring myself to share. Things that are so wrong and sacred I can’t bring myself to give them to the world that doesn’t understand. I know that awful, heartbreaking truths are what get attention. I know that the worse the pain the bigger the reaction but I also see the other side. The name that goes with the face of that orange haired baby. The old man who lies sick on the side of the road outside a clinic that doesn’t care if he lives or dies. I have watched news stories and been outraged over what seems like blatant exploitation of Haitians for financial gain. And then my stomach just sinks because I wonder if that’s really any different than I what I do here. Every single time I tell a story that makes someone cry, am I just as bad as those that I am so quick to judge? Am I stooping just as low?
Honestly, I struggle with that everyday. I know that there are times where it is my responsibility to make sure that people know the truth about life in Haiti. It is my job to share reality and reality is that really sucky and sad things happen a lot here. It’s also reality that those really sucky and sad things pop into my mind a lot faster when I sit down to write because just like the rest of the word, the more dramatic life is the more of my attention it occupies. But I also know that it is my responsibility to keep sacred things in a special place in my heart, saved only for the relationship between my friends and I. It is my responsibility to keep some things private. The question comes, where do I draw that line? How do I know what to share and what not to? How do I makes sure that I don’t fall into the trap of breaking hearts to fill up bank accounts? I think it’s going to be an ongoing part of my journey and I’m sure that, just like every other aspects I will make some mistakes and I will grown and learn.
I want to continue to share my Haiti with the world while making sure that I am the most loving and respectful person I can be to those who it impacts. I long to protect them with everything I have and do everything I can to bless their lives. I want hearts to break but I want Haiti to heal, I want GOOD things to happen for my friends. I wonder if it is possible to have both?