I am considering coming back to the Island for the next year, and am considering whether it will be with the same organization. It’s been very much occupying a huge role in my mind over the past few days.

I have been offered to come back for the summer to Haiti. However, if I do come, I can only come on the terms that it be extended for the year, which I am considering requesting. This would have been an easy decision last semester, but the last two months in Haiti (in particularly, the first month) really tossed me around. I am nervous about jumping back in with both feet. My experiences with All Hands last year gave me unrealistic expectations of my new position. I didn’t naively assume that it would be the same this time around but I was still jolted when I leaped in. Like that first jump of the summer into the pool.

I am still irrevocably, head over heels for this place, this Island. And WWR would have been a great organization to return to Haiti with. I feel almost silly for letting these relationships dictate whether or not I am returning here, but, as I learned in the last few months, I really need to be considerate of my own emotional health, which is very much determined by the social environment I find myself in.

I am conflicted. That’s the only word to describe the position I find myself in. On the one hand, this promises a return to Haiti. On the other hand, there are so many things ill-fitting about the position that I am not sure. And I do need to make up my mind soon about this.

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Orewa, Ayiti. N’ap kwaze.

I haven’t been able to journal for a while because of several recent challenges involving internet loss, a broken charger, and just general constant mobility. As we speak, I am writing this in a shack in Dominican Republic, on a cliff above the ocean. Being here feels surreal. I feel as if we are in a little beach town, back in United States. Electricity, cleanliness, paved roads, general comfort, the general LACK of people. It is hard to imagine that this is even on the same island as Haiti. Our little shack is also stupid beautiful.

Even though the experiences have been completely different, leaving Haiti this time around was as difficult as last time. Saying good bye on my last day in Plaisance had been particularly hard because everyone wanted to know when I will be back again and I could only answer, map vini anko men m pa konne ki le. I’m coming again but I don’t know when.

At this point, there are very few things I am sure of about the future, but I am as sure of that – map vini anko — as I am about just anything. Haiti and I are not finished yet. I have a community there in Plaisance now. Even in my broken Kreyol, there was always something to laugh about with everyone. From the lady who sold me chocolate on the street, to the kids who all followed me home on my last night, to the janitors at the schools who gave me oranges, to my various friends who had helped me through the month… Even more often than my moments of frustration, this country is filled with kindhearted souls who have just helped me from a difficult spot. The change is in me – I have been taking the time out to just talk to strangers, instead of just plunging ahead with my day — and that has made all the difference. In this society, laws do not matter as much as just being kind and good to those around you. Swarthmore taught me efficiency and work ethics, but Haiti has been bringing back the other side of me back to me – breathing and just enjoying people.

In terms of my future, after this month in Dominican Republic, I am not quite sure what will be happening. I have been interviewed for a few research positions, but nothing is certain yet. It’s funny, if I were in the same position two months ago, I would have be plagued with anxiety, but this, amongst so many other gifts, Haiti has given me – patience and acceptance. Lavi se lavi ak li toujou bay. Life is life and it always gives.

Going to church on a Sunday means an hour hike.

Exhaustion

I am beginning to feel at home here now, growing increasingly attached to people here, but I am also beginning to feel the wear and tear of every day. I can feel my energy draining. I don’t wake up the same way every morning now, ready to get the most of my day. Now, I dally more, wait more. Some of it is because I am more accustomed to life here, but some of it, honestly, is just that I am tired. Exhausted in a way that I can’t even really put into words.

There is a village near us, built for the poorest of Plaisance. I have been visiting it recently, because of a missionary group that was here. Increasingly, I find it hard to leave those kids, most of them orphans. Yesterday, a drunk man had caused quite a scare in the church courtyard (right outside of where I live), when he refused to leave. The aggression was mainly targeted towards the blans that were here. The police and several men actually physically dragged him out. Today, the kids were nervous about me walking back by myself and walked back with me, to protect me.

And sometimes, that’s all I want to do for them, protect them from the shitty hand of cards the world has dealt them. Manuelita, who has the greatest laugh. Katiana, who wouldn’t let me leave today until I had some of her peanut butter and she had put some earrings on me. Janelle, who is constantly drooling everywhere. These are the sides I see, but Manuelita is the same girl whose mother starved to death trying to feed her five children and these are the same kids who go to a school where more than 60% of the kids score below 50% on national exams. It literally breaks my heart thinking that what I am doing isn’t going to be enough to change their lives. Thinking about leaving for DR in a week, as much I will welcome the change in scenery, living conditions, and company, also brings about other emotions. I don’t feel like I am finished here or have done enough. Mostly, I don’t want to abandon them and leave them to deal with what life has handed them.