I was raised in New York City, but have been living and working in Haiti for the past 5 years. I moved to Haiti in order to establish a video production company (HaitiXchange), have new experiences, as well as open my eyes to new ways of living, thinking, and doing things.
When I came here, I was not new to Haiti since I was running HaitiXchange as a forum-based discussion website which often required taking trips to visit Haiti several times a year since 1999. However, after moving to Haiti, I quickly learned that visiting and living here were two totally different things. Now, over the next week or so I’ll be organizing my return to the States.
There is so much going on right now that I don’t quite know where to start. I could write about any one of a dozen things that are in my mind, but I’ve decided to write about my final perceptions of Haiti.
I often felt like I was in 7th heaven experiencing new tastes, sounds, and sights, and making new friends. Despite everything you might see or read in the news, Haiti is still a place of exceptional natural beauty and perfect weather almost all year round.
Haiti is a mixed bag.
However, I’ve been here for almost 5 years, and sometimes I simply feel I’ve had enough. Sometimes I feel I simply don’t get along with the people, the culture, the mentality, and the general way of life. Living in Port-au-Prince and occasionally having to dodge, or be otherwise inconvenienced by often violent demonstrations is the worst!
It’s been rough.
But I wanted to do it, and dammit, I did it!
I came to Haiti bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I had no close family members already here, no real contacts, and a half-baked business plan. With a goal and determination, I was still able to be productive. I’ve been able to work on half a dozen music videos,
(some for hit songs, and others for unknown artists), sometimes lucrative documentaries for the Haitian government, quasi-government entities, and for some of the largest NGOs on the planet. As of late, I’ve even moonlighted as a “fixer” for foreign journalists. Although varied, and sometimes hard to find, most of the work has been good, and very satisfying.
Before I got here. people continuously told me I wouldn’t last more than 6 months. I was told that I would quickly get so sick and tired of living here that I would turn around, leave, and come home. Even I thought I would just throw my hat in the ring for three years.
I’ve been here 5 years!
Although I have to finally admit I am ready to throw in the towel, I also have to say that it has been the ultimate eye-opening experience.
I have a different appreciation for Haiti, a different view of Haitians, a different view of the Haitian Diaspora, and a different view of the world in general. I have a better understanding of how the world works, what makes society and countries tick, and how much a society can neglect and still be considered a society. I also have increased confidence in my ability to cope on my own as an entrepreneur outside of the traditional corporate world and a structured 9-to-5.
The fact is that despite all of Haiti’s shortcomings, things do work. People get up in the morning and go about their daily routines. Albeit slowly, things get done, and the human tendency to organize, and be social automatically takes over.