Giving Back with Travel

This holiday season, we wanted to share this post from our ambassador Tracy Morrison, who has recently traveled to Haiti on an international aid trip. Tracy will host our #Traventura Twitter chat on Tuesday, January 5th at 8pm, focusing on the topic of using travel to do good.

Here is what she has to say about her recent travels:

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I’ve been to Haiti twice now, and it won’t be my last time. I knew I’d keep going back the moment I stepped off the Tap Tap in Cite Soliel for the first time.

 

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However, I had no idea how hard it would be to write about the experience. Each trip I’ve come back with enough words and experiences to write novels. But instead, after each trip, I draw inward and get quiet and am not sure how to fully describe the need, the love, the confusion that I feel. Or how will I ever be able to convey the need with just a few hundred words. Nothing seems good enough. Or was that work even worth anything – as it’s so small compared to what needs to be done. Will people accuse me of poverty tourism? My heart is always confused and heavy.

But then I remember the words of Mother Teresa…”If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”

The helping and holding needs to start somewhere. And I know that I am not in Haiti to solve anyone’s problems. I am there to hold someone and to share some of my heart and experience with you readers, so that you may also open your heart to the needs of others.

My trip to Haiti was different this time. There was an election taking place so we witnessed UN soldiers everywhere to keep the peace and monitor the election. There were curfews and places that we were unable to visit. And yet, this trip was very much the same as my first – it was filled with hope and devastation, and a heart breaking and a face smiling each and every day. Haiti is confusing. Haiti is love. And I have to remember that I go there so I can share what the need is.

I think what breaks me the most is the overwhelming number of orphans in Haiti that are not orphans at all, they just have parents that cannot afford to care for them any longer. Over 60% of the population lives on less than $2 per day, so they cannot afford the basics to live, let alone care for their children or send them to school. With over 50% of kids not attending school, the cycle of poverty will just continue.

Education, opportunity, and good health are required for a society to develop and thrive, and none of these are currently available to most of the Haitian population. The disparity between the few “haves” and the millions of “have nots” is alarming. But after years (decades) of corrupt governments and little industrial development, Haiti continues to struggle to just meet the basic human needs.

So what I want to share is how we can make an impact – not only by traveling to witness it yourself so you too can share the need, but how you can help today.

* Sponsor a child so they can go to school. The cost of an education in Haiti is about $40 per month. There are many reputable organizations and schools you can find to help. I love the work that the Sanneh Foundation does to feed children, teach them soccer and strength, give them a safe place to go off the streets, and keep them in school.(www.thesannehfoundation.org)

* Buy from Haiti artisans and businesses. Here are a few links that you can follow and purchase now for the holidays. This money goes directly into the hands of the mothers and fathers who work for a decent and living wage so their families and stay together. (deuxmains.com papillon-enterprise.com, haitiprojects.org)

* Give to companies that are working to grow the economy in Haiti. Healing Haiti (healinghaiti.org),which is the organization I travel with, is building a bakery which will employ over a hundred people. They have also opened a school, a clinic and a dental office to continue to grow employment.

* Give to organizations that are working directly with women to deliver babies safely and improving the immediate odds of survival. (midwivesforhaiti.org)

* Consider going on a mission trip but only after thinking about what your direct impact will be and how you can share the message and the need.

Many people ask me why I go to Haiti instead of focusing all of our giving back efforts here in the US. It’s an easy answer – for me, we are all one world and we all need to give back to one another. If we can help the economy and health globally it will directly impact us locally.

Happy Holidays.

 

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