During the month of July, I had the privilege to participate in mission work and conduct research in Haiti.
I was aware that Haiti was one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere and that a catastrophic earthquake ravished the country in 2010.
Even with this knowledge, nothing prepared me for the object poverty and substandard living arrangements I witnessed while there.
Much of Port au Prince, the capital city, still lay in waste and unemployment rates were at an all-time high. From a historical perspective, I began to think of the chain of events that led to these dubious conditions.
The culprits were obvious -- colonialism and slavery's impact on this place were seemingly inescapable. Nonetheless, a more focused look at Haiti's past reveals a more glorious story.
Haiti was the first nation established by former slaves. These courageous men and women fought to overthrow colonial rule and gain their independence.
The newly-found independence these freedom fighters fought for was underlined with throwing off the shackles of slavery imposed on them by France.
This victory gave hope that the same could happen for other groups of enslaved African people throughout the Americas. Undoubtedly, the victory in the Haitian Revolution is an important watershed moment in the history of the Western Hemisphere because it provided inspiration for subsequent slave revolts and provided conclusive evidence for enslaved blacks throughout the diaspora that freedom was not just a dream but could be a reality.
Reflecting on this point, I looked down a dirt street and watched a young boy and his mother working together with a smile. At first sight, I was perplexed thinking of the material conditions in which they lived.
At that very point I had a serendipitous moment and realized the source of their hope. Haitian people's potential and future success had a firm foundation with their past. Their resilience to survive facing insurmountable odds and thrive in unspeakable conditions is historically documented and is an undying trait.
As I noticed the Haitian woman embrace her son, I concluded this hope was rooted unequivocally in having strong faith, belief in family and commitment to their country.
Without a doubt this formula has maintained this very economically and socially fragile place for the length of the country's existence.
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