"He who hopes for spring with upturned eye never sees so small a thing as Draba. He who despairs of spring with downcast eye steps on it, unknowing. He who searches for spring with his knees in the mud finds it, in abundance."
These beautiful words are by American environmentalist Aldo Leopold from his classic Sand County Almanac. Leopold was writing about Draba, a tiny flowering plant. He goes on, "It grows only on the poorest sands, and only in earliest spring. In botany books it claims only two or three lines, for space belongs to bigger better blooms." We are witnessing those small signs of renewal in Haiti. There is so much good work by many of our friends in Haiti--replanting after the wrath of Sandy, pursuing education opportunities, and remaining steadfast during uncertainty.
Haiti's story is often difficult to tell. Deborah Sontag recently published an article in the New York Times on the progress of reconstruction in Haiti. As part of a series, she relays her perspective on the ongoing rebuilding effort.
"More than half of the money has gone to relief aid, which saves lives and alleviates misery but carries high costs and leaves no permanent footprint - tents shred; emergency food and water gets consumed; short-term jobs expire; transitional shelters, clinics and schools are not built to last."
The article often paints a dismal picture of Haiti, and a consistent theme is the exclusion of Haitians from the initial planning stages of the reconstruction. There are indeed some hard truths. The underlying social and political history of Haiti had ramifications in shaping the unfolding of events over the past three years. However, that social history may hold a key to sparking growth. There are innumerable individual stories of resilience and hope. Projects and programs that allow the people of Haiti to gain confidence rooted in competency will encourage freedom to tackle new challenges. Education is a pillar of this, but also mentoring, partnerships, ownership, and faith in fundamental human value.
We are proud of the intentionality with which the Haitian community thinks of the role of education in their lives. They are thoughtfully restless and hopeful for opportunity. Like Draba, promise blooms.