They Know Something NULL

Charlotte, North Carolina has served as my home and my playground for the past four years. During the work week I passionately assume the role of Miss Boutilier, a 29 year old elementary school teacher who lives and loves to empower and inspire her students. On the weekends, I strap on my stilettos and join my friends in what my city has to offer, beautiful restaurants, posh nightclubs, concerts, and sporting events. I have been blessed with so much, but I was blind to what I was missing. In one unforgettable week, it was made clear to me.

July 9, 2011 10:07 am. I turn off my cell phone for the last time as our plane’s wheels lift off of American soil. I leave the world of “me” behind and begin to focus my heart and mind on “them”. My journey has begun…I am boldly optimistic and unknowingly naive.

As we emerge from the cloud cover we descend towards a nation that the world has come to pity. My first steps on this new land were slow and steady as my eyes feasted on lush green mountain sides and deep blue ocean waters. The sounds of a Haitian band greeted my ears, my senses were spoiled…but that was just one side of the airport…

Cement floors and the stale still air of this tiny gateway to the outside world was an appropriate backdrop for the chaos and confusion of the travelers inside. The doors opened and the other side of the airport was exposed…my senses were once again on overload…

Hundreds of souls wandered the streets. Shouts, cries, laughter, honks, music…there is no silence here. Garbage, tents, tarps… homes. These are their homes. Their faces seem to lack emotion. Their high cheek bones and almond shaped eyes are striking. Their skin, smooth and flawless, like chocolate porcelain. They walk with grace and dignity, their beauty goes deeper than I can comprehend. I can’t help but think… “They know something that we do not.” Simple. Pure. Real. These people are breathtaking.

The rubble and destruction remind us of that fateful day last January when the earth shook Haiti to its core…the quake provided everlasting affects that stretch far beyond the toppled buildings…has the rest of world forgotten?

Splashes of color throughout this forgotten city of Port-au-Prince give our eyes a break. Brightly colored paintings, mangoes, bananas, and sugar cane decorate the sides of the streets; these are Haiti’s sweet treasures.

Our driver, Kensley, shares his stories of his beloved island, he is beaming with pride for his homeland…. A clue that love and hope reside here despite the outside opinion. We reach the guest house and are greeted with bright smiles and warm hearts. The aroma of spiced beans and vegetables that have been simmering all day makes our mouths water and our bellies grumble…we are home! After a delicious meal, and fond fellowship, we sleep soundly.

The next day…the Sunday morning two worlds collide. A Haitian church alive with a hopeful spirit, welcome their American guests with open arms and broken English. Wearing your Sunday best took on a whole new meaning. Brightly colored dresses, polished shoes and crisp suites adorned our Haitian hosts. While their faces were stoic, their passion was epic. As they prayed and sang, the joy spilled out of them and filled that tiny steamy church with gratitude and praise. We have the same God. We share the same faith, but we do not hold the same past. Their hurts and trials - they have seen things I can’t possibly comprehend. They have felt things that would ordinarily break the human spirit…but their spirit was clearly alive! Exploding with genuine gratitude for what little they have, their faith and love is alive and strong. I was in awe!
My first two days in Haiti were wonderfully overwhelming…but Monday morning, things got real. A bumpy dusty ride led us to a tiny cement refuge filled with angels. “A New Life Orphanage” is the temporary address for the small ones left behind. As we opened the gate dozens of sets of big brown eyes stared back at us, there was almost an instant connection, that’s what they were craving the most, someone to call their own, if only for a few hours. I could see the excitement and curiosity on their little brown faces. They told us about their dreams and their wishes…a pilot, a singer, a lawyer, an engineer. Their dreams are big in comparison to what little we think they have. I failed that day. I told myself that I would “see the people…not the poverty” but my heart broke at the thought of the probability of these dreams coming true. What happens when these children grow up and are forced to leave the orphanage? Who will they have? Where will they go? What does their future hold? These questions consumed me…I couldn’t see past their circumstances to what really mattered. I am ashamed to say that my spirit was crushed and my heart ached.

The next day, we met a new set of angels as we traveled to another orphanage. After the earth trembled and robbed them of their homes and their families, they had no choice but to relocate to City Soleil. A city known for its darkness; deemed the most dangerous place in the world. Their new home - tents, caked with mud, dirt floors. Their hope quickly fading…but their resilience overcomes the disparity of their circumstances. The love and compassion of strangers were their saving grace. They were scooped from the mud and given a new chance in Port-au-Prince.

Before the rusty, orange gate was fully opened, we saw a sea of open arms pleading to be held. I never believed in love at first sight… until that day.

Looking into their endless brown eyes, I was mesmerized. There was something in them, bigger than I could comprehend…my perception began to shift. They don’t have toys. They don’t have a closet full of clothes. They don’t have mothers or fathers. They don’t have endless options. They don’t have these things because they don’t need them. They possess something much bigger…they possess the capability and innocence to truly give and receive unconditional, unwavering love. They have each other. They love each other. They love us. How can they love us when they don’t even know us? When they don’t even speak the same language as us? Life becomes simple when you aren’t smothered with choices. Things become clear, and what really matters starts to take hold of you. Life becomes calm and beautiful again, they way it was intended to be. These children, these beautiful Haitian souls have it figured out. Nothing else matters, as the song goes “love is all we need”. Sounds idealistic, I know, but in my busy world I forgot how simple it really is. I want what they have. I strive to be what they have always been…simple, pure, and real. We let life get in the way of love. We are drowning in stereotypes, prejudice, hate, war, past hurts, jealousy, insecurities, guilt…we forget how to love. We forget how simple it is to choose to love rather than hate, to forgive rather than hold on to hurt, to be optimistic despite your circumstances. Real love doesn’t look at circumstances. We pity the Haitians…but should we? Perhaps they have something we search our whole lives for. The simplicity of love above all else.

As the week progressed and the hot days melted into my past, my spirit was renewed. My heart was filled once again. This tiny overcrowded country has seen immeasurable destruction, corruption, and tragedy yet their love for each other and the rest of the world is unwavering. Admiration. Inspiration. Appreciation. That’s what I left Haiti with. The Haitians taught me how to selflessly love my neighbor. An even deeper lesson, they taught me how to let others love who I am.
I was right; they did know something I didn’t…until their love taught me.

Submitted by Anonymous


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