I've always been an optimist. Someone who sees the glass half full, the sunshine behind the rain, and the purpose in the pain.
I think this pure, unadulterated optimism outlook gives me the ability to paints my skies with goodness and cheer. It allows me to have this mentality that life will be good and kind no matter what unfortunate hands are dealt, and that has been the saving grace that has given me the stamina and strength to find the beauty amongst the tragic brokenness of Haiti.
Yet, over the past four years, my sense of hope and optimism has slowly been warn down but the harsh realities of life amidst the developing world.
When I first began my journey in Haiti, I came with a heart full of joy, love and an eagerness to absorb every ounce of knowledge and understanding I could of this broken, yet beautiful island that was enwrapped in such an enigma.
I spent a good chunk of my first few years pushing out the negative. Refusing to fall into the mindset that Haiti was irreparable, and that Haitians were not to be trusted seeing that the only things they did well were lie and steal.
I refused to believe that this was the norm, this was the majority. I wanted to believe that love truly could conqueror all, it could even repair a life that had been shrouded in misery and compounded in trauma.
Even when I would hear of negative stories of theft and betrayal, I would think to myself how I would be one of those unscathed by the evils of the poverty mentality.
However, what I failed to realize is that poverty is no simple monster.
Poverty is a viscous force that is its own trauma in of itself. It shapes your brain and understanding to believe that today is all you have, and if you don't do everything in your power to survive, you may not live to see tomorrow.
Poverty has a way of stripping a person from their dignity. It teaches them that defense mechanisms are their weapons, and pride is their currency.
Men feel powerless with lack of opportunity and means to make a living wage, and release their aggression in fits of rage and domination over women. Women in turn accept this mistreatment, and are led to believe that their bodies are commodities, and they too have to be hardened and distrusting because this life will never cease to deal them an unfortunate hand.
Poverty strangles, decimates, and poverty devours.
And this is not only in Haiti where these truths are proven evident.
This is a life when poverty wins.
As my time in Haiti has gone from weeks to months, and months to years, slowly, the rose colored glasses have had to come off.
These truths have gradually worn me down as I trudge through what feels like betrayal and defeat. It is gut wrenching to feel that all you have done is love someone and shown them genuine kindness, and yet, it somehow isn't enough.
It's exhausting, disheartening and unbearably discouraging.
A feeling that makes you feel as though giving up is the only option.
I've had to face the harsh realities that sometimes, no matter how much goodness I project into my world, there are situations that poverty will win.
There will be people, whom I love, who lie, and cheat, and rob me blind.
There will be people who, at the end of the day, don't see me as anything other than a white foreigner (blan), thus resembling a robust bank account with a never ending stream of income, and therefore seek to take advantage for their personal gain at any turn.
There are people, whom after years of honesty and devotion, will sometimes reach a place of desperation, in which stealing seems to be the only option.
It will never stop hurting to feel violated, disregarded, and used. It will never stop hurting when the stereotypes are proven painfully true, no matter how much I want them to be wrong.
But, my enemy are not a people who have been plagued by misfortune, no, my enemy is an intangible force that breeds lies through deceitful words that cause the people I love so to make decisions that jeopardize their lives, safety and futures.
There will forever be situations in which the evil, crippling force of poverty will indeed triumph.
However, there are still, far more situations filled with beauty, filled with reminders that there is hope that together, true change can occur.
It will take generations to undo the devastation of centuries of poverty, but, I will never stop believing that my tiny drops in the bucket are making and impact.
I'm not sure I'll ever get used to manipulation, or the realization of betrayal from someone I loved, but I do hope that rather than embitter, and jade me, they make me all the more tender and understanding of a life that I will never live.
My prayer is that my heart would remain open and humble to listen and learn just how severe and haunting the fear of not knowing where your next meal may come from can be.
And yet, amongst all the pain, the suffering and the brokenness, there is a beauty, there is a magic, and strength that poverty hasn't quite been able to extinguish.
Unparalleled strength lies within our souls, and that strength continues to cause my spirit to rise with the hope that although there are days when poverty wins, there are many more when I get to see its defeat.