My heart told me this once, and it will tell me this again.
Haiti is my treasure.
This is serious.This is real.
This post is not meant to evoke any particular emotion.
I'm not special and I'm not different. I just care and I love.
Trust my intent.
I went to Haiti for the first time when I was 15. July 2004*. My extended Haitian family was on a cruise and we landed on the island of Labadee, also known as paradise (since it gives tourists this illusion). The second my feet touched the sand, I started crying frantically. I started having mild spasms. No, I'm not being dramatic. It wasn't scary. It was pure and wild joy-ecstasy. 'Til this day, my family still speaks about that experience.
Everyone else was terrified, shocked, and concerned, but my grandma started to caress my shoulder, told everyone to relax and let me be.
I was finally in this magical place. Haiti. The motherland. Growing up, I heard so many stories about this place. The culture, the food, the music. But because I had never been there, and because I had (and still have) a wild imagination, I created all these ideas and images of what Haiti and Haitians were like. Those fantasies were nothing compared to the real thing. I fell in love. I fell hard. Every day I fall harder.
Tomorrow morning, I leave for Haiti. This trip is different from the rest because I crafted it to my liking. I'm doing essentially everything that I want to do. Spiritual retreats, serving the poor, sight-seeing, connecting, feeling, writing, crying....I've changed allot as my love for Haiti has evolved over the years. If I were to go to Haiti any time after 2009, my trip would be painted in harsh revolutionary colors. People get shocked when they realize that I'm a fighter, a revolutionary, at heart. Most people think I'm either very sweet and cute because of my cherubic cheeks, very calm and peaceful because of my naturally zen nature, or very fun and fly for whatever reason. I'm all of those things. But I'm also a fighter, in my own way.
I always say, "Haiti may not have given birth to me, but I am still her child". A child has to defend her mother.
After the January 2010 earthquake, I lost my mind. This is normal. Except that, all of my Haitian family, minus a few very distant relatives were actually not in Haiti during the earthquake. My family was confused. Sure, they were devastated, just like every other Haitian on the planet. But my grief was considered odd. 'Til this day, they don't know why I took it so hard.
It's because every Haitian is my family. I love Haitians just for being Haitians. I love being around Haitians. I love speaking to Haitians. I love giving Haitians a kiss on the cheek. That is real. That is how I feel. Every little girl or little boy, every grandma, uncle, cousin, mother, father. They are my family. It's always been like that. It still is. In the face of death, I would give myself up to save a Haitian. In the face of revolution, I would fight. I would bleed. I am fearless. Not in theory, but in reality. My mom thinks I'm crazy.
In the past week, all of my closest friends have warned me, "Don't go rogue!", "Don't disappear Naika, I know you.", "Make sure you come back home from Haiti.". This is funny. But it's also serious because, if I ever felt so inclined, I would drop anything and everything to participate in the new Haitian revolution. (Has it started yet?). Medical school, friends, career, family, life. Everyone who knows me knows this to be true. Including my parents...drama. It's the truest thing I know. I'd do anything to save Haiti. *Note: I'm a very educated woman. I am aware of the immense social complexities which exist. I am aware that the above statement may come off as delusional, annoying, unrealistic and false. But, I don't care. I'm as much as an idealist as I am a realist. Get over it. Feel a little.
I'm going to come back home. This time at least... Kidding! Ease up!!! This post is serious but not that serious.
Haiti is my treasure.
It's a wonderful thing to know what your treasure is because you can work towards it. You can work for it. It moves you. It inspires you. It's a beautiful thing. Being in love with a person is complicated. Being in love with a country, an identity, a people, an idea-is a bit more complicated. But it's sill amazing. Haiti finds its place in everything I do. Haiti has been the subject of 70% of my college papers (a rough estimate), the focal point of many applications, the main topic in interviews-jobs and schools alike, the highlight of my most meaningful conversations and memorable interactions. I've held hands with strangers for hours imagining a new Haiti. I've gotten into nasty arguments when someone has disrespected Haiti. I've been sad when other people my age haven't cared as much or in the same way as I do for Haiti. I've been confused when I've felt like I love Haiti even more than my own Haitian family. I've met some of my closest friends at events having to do with Haiti. Just the thought of Haiti is enough to make me cry with extreme happiness or extreme sorrow...in the drop of dime. Yup.
I don't know what tomorrow holds. I don't know what my future holds. That is up to God and God alone and I trust Him. But I know one thing. My treasure is in Haiti. My treasure is Haiti. My heart has told me this. My love for Haiti will grow. It will change. It will have its ups and downs. I've taken forced breaks from Haiti- a short breakup of sorts. But I always come back. One of my dearest friends once told me that "In a relationship, there has to be a fighter". I'm a fighter. I will fight for Haiti, in my own way. A child must defend her mother. Rightly so.
I know I'll be alive to see "The New Haiti". I just know it. It's going to happen soon. Mark my words. I will be a part of it. You will too. It is going to be difficult. We will win. We human beings are good. This I know to be true. We are better than we know.There is no such thing as a bad person. Human beings are innately good. We just do good things and bad things. There will be a time when enough people-Haitians-do so much more good than bad and have so much love for their fellow countrymen and countrywomen....and themselves....and Haiti....and God....and the spirit of revolutionary change that was embedded in the souls of our ancestors... that the "The New Haiti"....the real Haiti...the Haiti that God intends it to be.... will have no choice but to rise up and be victorious. I am not a prophet. I am intuitive. This will happen. Mark my words.
I leave for Haiti tomorrow. Despite what this post may suggest, I am at complete and total peace. That's how it is when you have your treasure. I'm not filled with angst or anger or nervousness. I'm happy. I'm excited. Tomorrow, my heart will remind me that Haiti is my treasure. When I land in Port-au-Prince, I will cry.
Peace be with you.