For months I've been trying to find the words to write this particular post.
A subject not easy to articulate into fathomable words, without strewing controversy across the inter webs.
Yet, it is something that has weighed heavy on me for some time, and the only way to release this burden is to attempt to talk about this uneasiness, which has been a frequent passenger of my heart and mind.
For some, this issue is not an issue at all. It's something so simple. So common. So typical, it passes by without a second thought.
Yet for me, it's one of the greatest travesties of all.
"Blanc, give me one dollar..."
A phrase I hear repeated on a daily basis. A phrase, which segregates me, isolates me by the color of my skin and distinguishes me as a superior being, with expectations I am unable and unwilling to live up to.
Riding up into the mountains villages to develop relationships with people and attempt to work alongside of them to empower and equip with the skills and tools needed to succeed, I (we) am (are) almost always instantly greeted by slews of joyful children.
Like clockwork, their bright and beautiful smiles are almost always followed by dirty hands being held out in hopes of something being placed inside, and pleas for whatever they think I will be willing to give them.
I am the white person.
I have money.
I will give them the means they are lacking in order to be satisfied.
The "great white hope", if you will.
This is where I run into the difficulty of explaining all it is that I feel and think about this subject.
So. Many. Emotions.
I should be used to this by now. I should have long since grown desensitized to the begging and the assumption that I will be yet another 'blanc' to give them something.
It shouldn't phase me, this is just a part of the culture. These type of instances merely come with the territory.
But I can't shake it off. I can't ignore it. I can't remain silent as this type of mentality continues to stifle and cripple progress and freedom.
All across Haiti, there is a widespread endemic that has swept throughout the inter weavings of the culture and created a monster if epic proportions.
Racial barriers have been set because of the way foreign aid has been done for so long. Seeing a need and providing an immediate solution, may seem like an ingenious way of providing help, where it seemingly is needed most.
But, it has done just the opposite.
How do you go about helping a people who have been conditioned to take? A people who only see dollar signs and salvation, rather than genuine relationships and opportunities to create partnerships to invest in a community.
I'm not really sure who's fully to blame.
Mothers drop off their children on the doorsteps of orphanages fully convinced that their children will be given a life far better than anything they could offer.
All too often, staff members who seem like the most loyal and true are caught stealing and lying.
How do you begin to tackle such an intangible issue? This can't be solved with a hospital, a school, a bag of rice or clean water.
How do you rewrite a history that has be strangled with oppression, corruption, lies and deceit?
How do you a trust when you know your kindness will be exploited?
How do you forgive and love when all you want to do is build a wall around your heart?
And then... I am reminded of the truth spoken by my Savior.
Becoming weary and contemplating "throwing in the towel" and calling it a day, is something that frequents my mind and well-being, more often than not.
Being discouraged by doubting my ability to truly help and make a difference in a way that does not further perpetuate handout methods, or poverty mentalities. It seems this mountain is one quite impossible to climb!
But keeping the faith and persevering, obeying the call is what we are charged with.
Maybe the answer is far simpler than I realized?
Maybe the small ripples that eventually bear waves, are small acts of my own honesty, transparency, perseverance and love.
Jesus loved and gave His life for a people who mocked Him, blasphemed Him and eventually killed him. His mission and purpose were not deterred by His own disciples who denied and betrayed Him.
He never "threw in the towel" and declared that enough was enough, that the very people He was created to serve were too thickheaded, distrusting and ignorant.
He didn't love or seek out only the charming, well-educated, attractive ones. He went for the lowly, the outcast, the liars, cheaters, abused and forgotten. The ones who were skeptical, and lost in their own lies and lack, searching for a way out of their situations.
He came for a broken, dying, impoverished world. For a people who to this day, continue to deny Him, reject Him and turn His life and truth into comedic satire.
As I examine this subject, I can't help but look inward and see when and where I react the same. How I can be defensive and arrogant, quick to judge and lash out at anyone who wrongs me. Yet, when have I taken advantage, lied, stolen, and cheated for my own personal gain?
It seems elementary to suppose that the solution is as simple as love and honesty. Perhaps, steadfastness in aims to combat mindsets that perpetuate poverty, and projects which develop partnerships and uplift and empower could be the route to invoke change.
If we want to see a difference, we have to live the difference.
We can't choose the easy road, and put band-aids on issues that are rooted in generational customs and traditions. We can't assume that a few dollars, a bottle of water, or a pair of tennis shoes will truly solve anything.
We have to be educated if we wish to educate.
Obviously humanitarian efforts and missional projects cannot run without donations, but the dollars must go toward long term investment and development.
If we want the little boy standing on the side of the road, with his arm outstretched in anticipation of a dollar to see future partners and friends rather than bottomless bank accounts; we have to respond in such a way that allows the little boy to realize his own strength, abilities and intelligence.
We have to stop emptying our wallets and truly pour out our hearts.