The following “Pledge for First Time Travelers to Haiti” was written—with slight alteration by NAES—by Jackie Williams, Director of the Arts Center of the Partners in Health complex, in Cange. Founded by Paul Farmer, Partners in Health is operates twelve health clinics and hospitals across Haiti’s Central Plateau.
The pledge below offers a great starting place to get any partnership off on the right footing and is equally relevant for seasoned Haiti travelers to Haiti or anyone who wishes to learn and serve in poor and under-resourced communities abroad.
- Mindful that I am traveling to a developing country where life is harsh, I promise that no matter how tired, thirsty, sore, hot or uncomfortable I may be, I will not complain.
- Mindful that I am privileged to visit a new country, I will go with an adventurous attitude, full of curiosity and enthusiasm.
- Mindful that finding food is often a daily struggle for most Haitians, I will gratefully accept whatever nourishment is offered me with gratitude, and that I will at least taste every dish.
- Mindful that I represent America, arguably the richest and most privileged nation on earth and in history, I will try my best to be always polite and always humble.
- Mindful that I am a guest in Haiti, I will do my best to utter at least a few words in my hosts’ language, Haitian Creole.
- Mindful that the Haitians played a huge part in our own nation’s history, stopping Napoleon’s army, which intended to reclaim the Louisiana Purchase by invading New Orleans, I will go with gratitude.
- Mindful that the Haitians, being poor in material goods are infinitely rich in spiritual goods, I will attend church with joy, expecting to be blessed.
- Mindful that Jesus came on earth as a poor person saying, “The poor you have always with you,” I will try my best to see poor people as a beacon and not as a burden.
- Mindful that my time on earth is short [even if I am very young] I will make a valiant effort to use my time in Haiti to contribute something, in honest work, in music, in art, in playing games with children…something…so that the Haitians that I meet will be glad that I came.
- Mindful that I will soon return to good roads, good plumbing, creature comforts and all of the things that I think are my right, I will earnestly endeavor to live as an humble servant during my stay in Haiti.
- Mindful that there are often delays en route, I will carry with me something with which to amuse myself: playing cards, a paperback book.
- Mindful that the Good Lord created all beings, when I encounter fellow mortals with 4, 6 8 or more legs, I will not freak out.
This is my solemn pledge.