“Let the world change you”

My latest Haiti visit, in March 2015, offered another unique experience in terms of cultural awareness, way of life, and the difference in perception of what is truly meaningful.
During my past visit we drove several hours from Port Au Prince to Deschappelle through many small towns and villages en route to Hospital Albert Schweitzer, HAS, a hospital which serves a large population in the mountainous area of Haiti.
Haiti street picture

A street view of a small town in Haiti

During the journey I noticed an obvious contrast in the way people interact in the U.S. and in Haiti. People were lining the streets in each and every town we drove through talking to one another. No, not on their cellphones (which the majority of them do have) but in-person, face-to-face, physically talking to one another and enjoying each other’s company. People have a sense of community throughout Haiti and they rely on and support each other day in and day out, by being physically present for one another.
relationships in Haiti
Statistics show people who are recovering from an illness, surgery, or depression have better outcomes if they have a strong community support network compared to people who don’t have as strong of a network, regardless of other co-morbid conditions. Unlike many Americans, the Haitian people tend to place more importance on relationship building versus tasks and are surrounded by family and friends  whether they are in good health or are ill.
It seems I continue to take away more from my experiences in Haiti than the education I provide to my Haitian colleagues. They continually teach me how fulfilling life can truly be, how important it is to spend quality time with those around you, and how a caring and compassionate demeanor make for a better life for all.
And so I ask, as a dedication to my wonderful friends in Haiti, for a favor. A personal request to you: On your way home tonight put away your cell phone, look up, and smile at the people walking by. It’s the first step in gaining a sense of community here in the US and making relationships more important than tasks in our fast-moving world.
Haiti colleagues