I was a journalism and global politics major in college, which means I know how to interview people, aggregate facts and details from a variety of sources, and write a story.
This isn’t that kind of story. This is a conversation with one man telling me things that trouble him about his country and his people.
Jean Robert (JR) was our driver, protector, travel guide and all around go-to guy in Haiti.
Need to buy something and don’t know Creole? Ask JR.
Want to know what city we’re in and what it’s known for? Ask JR.
Not sure what kind of bite on your arm that is? Ask JR.
JR is, quite literally, the man.
He knew I was the blogger on the trip, and when he realized that I would be publicizing my writing about the trip he had some questions.
“Did you know about Haiti before you came here? Like, what they say on the news? What do you think about it now? What are you going to tell people?”
If you’ve read my previous two posts, you know how I felt before going on the trip and you know one of the most powerful impressions that was made one me during my first day in Haiti.
The things you haven’t seen me write about yet are how I fell in love with Haiti, or what I love about Haiti.
Its people are intoxicatingly fun. The weather is wonderful. The place is teeming with life. Despite the harsh realities of living in a location that has been so brutally barraged by mother nature, it is a place I would love to visit again.
JR wants that too. He wants more people to visit: to go to Haiti and see his beautiful country and meet his beautiful people. He wants to see his country grow.
And that’s why he asked me to write about some of the things that trouble him. So, ladies and gentlemen, here are some of JR’s thoughts.
We need jobs in Haiti. If you look around my country, you can see for yourself that that is what will make people better.
It’s hard to get a job in Haiti, because we don’t have government assistance programs. Every business that you see here is pretty much private. Someone just set up a shop with items they wanted to sell, created the price and started selling. Nobody is going to regulate this.
If someone did want to get hired by a legitimate business, the government would just find a way to control that person.
I think we need more people to invest money here in Haiti: to bring jobs and businesses with them. Most Haitians leave the country to study abroad, but they don’t come back to work here because there are no jobs for them. If there were they would stay. If you study in Haiti, you don’t know if there will be a job when you finish.
On the government
People can go to vote for an election, but it’s not really a choice. It’s the same thing all the time.
The rich just want to stay rich. And the rich got wealthy when they received the aid shipments coming in after the earthquake and the hurricane.The rich want to keep the poor people poor. There’s no community effort. Right now you can’t ask people to vote, because most of them don’t understand how to vote.
On his people
Haiti is a country like any other country. We might not have money or nice houses, but we’re still a people and we think about doing good things. We know if we have the possibility to do what we can to make our home better, to finance what we can, we will do it.
People might never come to visit my country because of what the news says. Maybe people who do visit are not explaining how beautiful our country is when they go home. I, and my people, want others to come. We love visitors.
“I am a big man in a small body. If I can take the opportunity to lead and show people how Haiti is beautiful, I’ll take it. I have so many ideas, but I can only do so much.” - JR