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7545: Re: 7432: Usefulness of spring break trips to Haiti (fwd)

From: LAKAT47@aol.com

In a message dated 03/21/2001 12:41:23 PM Pacific Standard Time, Shirley Jean 
<shirle_jean@hotmail.com> writes:

<< All of the trips consist of going to orphanages and 
 hospitals to give toys, schools supplies, and used clothing.
 While I recognize that these are essential needs and will benefit the 
 children and people that receive the donations, I can't help but question 
 the whole idea of groups of students going on spring break or missionaries 
 going to Haiti to help all "those Haitians" in need. In the pit of my 
 stomach, I sense overtones of white man's burden type rationale. Are they 
 seeing a fellow human being or just some poor, helpless Haitians? Is it all 
 right that people go because they get to see for a week the poverty in the 
 "poorest country in the Americas" when they are bringing supplies for an 
 orphanage in the process? I also question the dependency that is fostered by 
 all of these "charitable donations".  >>
I apologize for not responding sooner, but this is an excellent question and 
I had to think about it for a while instead of giving my first response.  
That Haiti has needs so great that the well seems bottomless, and empty to 
boot, is undeniable.  That people giving sustinance supplies to Haitians 
keeps some people from starving to death is also true.  I also know that 
exposing people, who would otherwise know nothing about the country, or only 
the media's take, to Haiti and Haitians can only add to Haiti's list of 
friends and advocates.  These people come back to the US and disabuse the 
average American of their mostly mistaken notions of the country and the 
people.  So in these ways, having college students come to Haiti for what 
ever reason is probably more positive than negative.  But I still maintain 
that giving things to people is NOT the best way to help.  Especially in this 
case where it is now a big part of the economic system.  People learn to hold 
their hand out.  They take what is offered but it diminishes them.  No matter 
how kind and benevolent the giver is, they are above the recipient in 
stature.  Gratitude becomes resentment.  And the person dependent on the 
generosity of others learns to manipulate and outright lie for needed or 
unneeded favors.  As it is now, it will take generations to rid Haiti of the 
welfare mentality, and the notion that big brother knows what Haitians need 
more than Haitians do.

There is a classic story of an American asking a Haitian why they don't fill 
the potholes in the road to Jacmel.  The Haitian says, "The French built the 
road, let them fix it."       Se sa.

Kathy Dorce~