I have been blessed to be able to travel to many countries, learn about different cultures, and meet fascinating people who, I'm reasonably sure, have impacted my life more than I have theirs. Haiti is one of the places I've returned to several times and today I'm as conflicted about that country as I was before I left on my first visit there. First, let me say that whatever opinions you have about Haiti can be easily supported if you spend a bit of time there.
If you're expecting to find rampant poverty, overcrowding, a bloated bureaucracy, pushy people, and chaotic traffic patterns, you can see all that without getting off airport property. Take any of the bumpy roads and you will see overwhelming evidence of what nearly a century of a government's failure to take care of its people looks like. Of course, you may have trouble discerning that from the failed efforts of numerous aid and charitable organizations. Throw a rock in any direction and you will likely hit promises unkept and potential unrealized. Disasters are attracted to Haiti like tornadoes to a trailer park and destitution sticks on the country like a bad tattoo. Only a small portion of the population has access to things we take for granted: clean water, dependable electricity, quality healthcare, and readily available transportation.
If you can suspend your judgment about all those things and get to a different perspective, other views are possible. You will find people hard at work each day to make ends meet. Folks doing all they can to overcome their circumstances and refusing to give in. I stand amazed at the depth and breadth of the faith of many of the people I've met there when my eyes and my experiences tell me there is absolutely no evidence for their hopefulness. Like our kids in the U.S., Haitian children dream of being doctors, lawyers, nurses, teachers, firemen, and super heroes. Who am I to say that it is not possible?
I do not have any glib answers to solve any of Haiti's problems. At the same time, I cannot pretend the country does not exist or that things there will improve if left alone.