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The Have Nots may actually Have More

Posted by Kathi on Saturday, March 01, 2014 |

It is Carnival season here in Haiti  and  as I contemplate my return to Scottsdale for Espie’s school break, I can’t stop wondering how I will react. How I will react to grocery stores with a million choices of a million different products. How will I react when I overhear the conversations in my health club where people obsess about their next workout, diet, dinner, or fashion statement. Don’t get me wrong – I am as guilty as the next Valley of the Sun resident. But much has changed for me after 7 months of living in Haiti. How will I react to the disparity living in the world of the ‘have nots’ to the world of the ‘have too much’. As with any transition, I will need lots of time in reflection and prayer.

I have learned many things here in Haiti, but one of the most poignant lessons is that even if we think we have everything we need and want, it will never be enough. The race to consume more, to buy the next object of our desires will never fulfill our deepest needs. Sure that new iphone would be nice and might bring fleeting happiness, but it will never bring the peace that comes with knowing where true happiness is found. 


Here in Haiti, in a country of ‘have nots’ – I find true happiness each day in the people I encounter. A mother with absolutely no idea how she will feed her 2 children, doesn’t act miserable - instead she goes to the park with her girls and laughs as they play.


When a young boy carries a 40 pound bucket of water overhead up a steep hill, I don’t hear him whining and complaining – I hear him singing and making clicking noises each time a drop of water spills.  When a laborer (dirty, exhausted, sweaty, hungry and tired) who has spent all day in the hot sun sees me, he doesn’t look down, he greets me with a smile and the pride that comes from earning a day’s wage. When an old man hobbles up the rocky road on his walker, wearing the same clothes he has worn every day for the past month his reply to my simple inquiry of “how are you today?” – is “tre byen gras a DIEU” (very well thanks to God). You see, people that have the least are often the happiest – and let me explain why I think that is……

Our American society is based on material consumption and we are blinded and oblivious to the trap we are ensnaring for ourselves. We can’t fathom the reality that 
2 billion people in the world live on less than $2.00 a day. When we think of developing countries we think about  suffering, poverty, corruption, hunger, pain. While these things exist for people living in 3rd world countries, it doesn’t mean they are unhappy. You see,  they have resigned themselves to this fact. They have found acceptance in their situation and have set their minds to making the most of their friendships, their families, their love of God. It is these things that sustain them – it is their relationships that bring them happiness - not their lack of material possessions.


Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, where thousands of children die before their fifth birthday. Children should have opportunity to live a healthy life, attend school and pursue their dreams.  They shouldn’t have to live in such dire conditions, but yet despite their difficulties, they have learned how to be happy. They take nothing for granted, there is no “entitlement” generation  - they are appreciative for many of the things our U.S. children take for granted.

So as I return back to my home country for a visit, I hope that my heart will remain open and remember the true source of happiness which I have learned from my friends here in Haiti. Happiness comes from my relationship with God, from the love of my family and the support and love of my friends. I am grateful for every challenge and every success that comes my way. I am making the decision to be happy - a great lesson from people that have nothing.

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