A few weeks ago we had a friend here filming a new video for Clean Water for Haiti. We’re excited about the project, as well as some other things going on in the background here, and while that’s exciting in and of itself, there was something that came out of the whole process that was really special.
Living and working cross-culturally is hard on a good day. Throw in bad days and hard stuff and it can get really hard. Over the years we’ve had the opportunity to walk with our staff through some really hard stuff. I say “opportunity” because as I look back I can see so much character growth in all of us. Things that fused us together as a team. Things that took the shiny outside layers off and left us all a bit raw and licking our wounds at times. But then the healing would settle in and we would move forward.
The time working on the video made me step back and look at how far we’ve come in the past few years. Trust, on both sides of the fence, is a hard thing here even within Haitian relationships. Being the boss in any given situation is hard because of so many cultural things. And, I’m talking about our staff here, not us. It’s hard to be the one telling others what to do and having to say “no” to certain things. Those decisions resonate outside the work place into the community. The lines can be very blurry.
Over the years we’ve made a point of being open with our staff about many of the decisions we make. We want and need them to be part of things here. They need to understand our thought processes, as much as possible, and know what our intentions are. When we were going through some of those hard times, we chose openness and vulnerability. It paved the way for a lot of other things. Mostly, we realized that it let everyone know that we cared enough to tell them everything. We all needed to be on the same page, but it was nothing we could force or control. They all had to make their own decisions based on the information. And, they did. But it’s been a slow process.
This year I feel like we’re sitting in this beautiful place of blessing where God is just showing us what all the hard work has been for. Don’t get me wrong, there is still a lot of hard work happening here! So much hard work. But, we’re also able to see that the hard work has led to something amazing
As Ryan and I spent time filming I had several moments where I got choked up. We, again in the spirit of building a team, always talk to our staff about any fundraising and promotional stuff we’re doing. We want them to be part of it, to be excited about it and to know that we’re not exploiting anyone in what we do. We want any of them to be able to see a video or brochure or post on Facebook and be proud of that. We want them to know who is coming to the mission and why. I think this is especially important when you’re capturing imagery of people that they might not actually have opportunity to see in the setting where it’s used. We want everything we do to be an accurate representation of Clean Water for Haiti, our staff and what they do, and Haiti in general.
It was the little things that caught me off guard.
The week before Ryan arrived Melix came to me and told me they needed to get some new supplies for filter installations and follow up, because they knew we were going to be filming and they wanted to make sure everything was right and like we do it, that no one was lacking tools etc as sometimes happens over time. The day we were filming in the work yard blew me away. Subtle things. Molet wearing a Clean Water for Haiti t-shirt. The guys being very deliberate about how they did things, not because they were worried, but because they were proud. Proud of the work they do here, because they know it’s saving lives.
One day we went out to the new site and pulled a couple of our long term staff for interviews. Both have been here for 10 years and I knew from personal conversations and the years of knowing them that they had stories to tell about life change. What I wasn’t prepared for were the tears that sprung up for me as we sat on stacks of paving stones under the shade of big mango trees and just talked while the camera rolled. The tears came from hearing them put into their own words what working at the mission has done for their lives. It’s given them a job, dignity, and they go to work every day knowing that all their hard work is saving lives. Chris and I talk about that, but to hear them say it makes my heart beat faster.
Often Chris and I are the ones that get the encouragement and praise for what happens here, but there’s a whole crew of people that make it all happen day to day. It’s such a privilege to have the opportunity to lead and guide the mission and to work alongside them each day. To see them come in as people who aren’t even sure what it means to have a full time job, to becoming people who are very skilled and good at what they do. It makes the mama bear in me rise up.
I am so proud of each and every one of them.
As you think about Clean Water for Haiti and what we do here, don’t forget to be praying for our staff on a regular basis. Life in Haiti is hard, but they’re building better lives for themselves and their families because of the work they do here. They’re helping families all over Haiti build better lives by being agents of change in the communities where we work.
When you invest in Clean Water for Haiti you’re investing in life change on so many levels, and that’s an amazing thing to be part of!