Wednesday, February 17, 2010

They are Haiti

For four years we've been watching people come in and out of Haiti. The visitors have mainly been Canadians and Americans. Over and over again people talk about feeling a deep connection or a unexplainable love for Haiti and her people. More often than not people leave Haiti and soon after report that their lives will never be quite the same.

What is it?

Haiti is a country of stark and overwhelming contrast. There is stunning physical beauty, both the landscape and the people. At every turn you meet men, women and children that live their lives with inspiring strength and grace. They humble you. The good is so very good. The beauty so rich, so staggering. On the flip side there is deep poverty, and sometimes very deep corruption, wrong-doing, and abuse. The weak are not often protected, it can be devastating to witness. The society "functions" while looking away from much of that darkness.

It's beauty and it's horror.

Every culture has its strengths and weaknesses. That is not what makes Haiti unique. Haiti just functions in the extremes. The contrast is so incredibly in-your-face that you almost cannot categorize what you've seen or felt or been able to touch and smell and taste.

Our love of a place is either born of our own experience or from hearing of someone else's experience. There are many who have heard only the bad things about Haiti. Their opinions are based off of the incomplete snapshots of others ... Our opinion of the country and her people will depend on what we choose to focus on and see. All of it is real. The good. The bad. The beautiful. The hideous. But what sticks with us? What comes to represent Haiti?

While I am not terribly endeared to a few of the cultural norms in Haiti, I am inexplicably endeared to the people. I am especially touched, moved, inspired, awed, strengthened, fascinated, challenged and in love with the women of this culture. The old women usually leave me speechless. An old woman in Haiti deserves royal treatment. These ladies have seen things. They know things. They exude wisdom and knowledge.

To me, THEY represent the culture and to me they are Haiti.

The women carry the majority of the daily work. From my perspective they carry this land (on their heads) and they do it with style. They are tough, strong, courageous, reliant, tenacious, and graceful. Watching them and all they cope with and endure makes me want to be a stronger woman too.

They are Haiti.



Heather said...

Wow Tara!!!!!!!
Awesome post!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ruth said...

So true.

Leigh said...

This was beautifully written and overwhelming powerful by the pictures alone. Thank you.

One Crowded House said...

they make me want to be a stronger woman as well... thank you for sharing your beautiful words and pictures....

praying daily for your family


JenniferJ said...

Crying, speechless, thank you :)

Bill and Christina said...

I agree! Not that you need me to agree! I love Haiti!

Amanda said...

they are beautiful.

I gotta say that I'm constantly admiring their ARMS!!! Oh, to have ARMS like theirs. Long, lean. Most all of them. Crazy good arms.

Sorry, it's just something I noticed on the Haitian women. But truly, they are a beautiful people.

Heather said...

Beautifully said.

e-Mom said...

It's impossible not to fall in love with the Haiti you and Troy have shown us.

This is a beautiful tribute to her women... and exquisite photos by Troy as always--esp. the lady in yellow. :~D

Kimberley Gringhuis said...

I couldn't agree more!

Sailor and Co said...


chrisnoelle said...

You are so sweet to honor the women of Haiti Tara....(and Troy).
I have a Haitian girlfriend, who is one of the sweetest and strongest people I know. She was actually supposed to be on a plane to Haiti on Jan 12, but had to cancel the day before. She is in the DR right now, as a nurse, helping some that made it over there after the earthquake. Thanks for all you and your family are doing. I pray for your journey.

sott said...

Beautiful women beautiful words. I agree with you Tara. I'm such a wimp. :)

Matt and Steph Bell said...

I want you to know that I have continued to keep up with your blog. You and your family are inspiring! THANK YOU for proving me right (not that thats important) but not long ago.. I said to people around me "there is hope in those ashes of Haiti and it wont be long till we hear the stories and see the faces of it dispite the devistation."
I also posted this blog (Im also a missionary artist) in honor of THAT HOPE that unites us in Christ.

Your Father in Heaven's gotta be mighty proud of you for painting his children so beautifully.

KEEP YOUR ROOTS DEEP, and your reach high. God is using you in mighty ways!! (and keep us informed on the in between in the mean time while you can)

Thanks again.

Kathrin said...


Sarah D said...

I couldn't agree more with this beautiful post--the Haitian women carry Haiti with a grace and dignity that is inspiring and humbling!
Anais Nin says, "We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are..." You are brave and strong and beautiful too Tara Livesay...

Casey said...

Love this. Love, love, love this. When we met Dr. Bernard's wife, Claudette, I said, "This is a woman to be reckoned with. And I wager he doesn't do it often." :) Thank you for reminding us of the beauty to be found after such devastation.
Still praying-
Casey Houseworth

HMK said...

Truly, so beautiful! This post has me all teary-eyed...

Xhenifer said...

Praying for you and your family. Have been following you daily for the past month and continue to morn with and for you.
Thank you for the beautiful and inspiring post.

Jennie in Montana

ManyBlessings said...

Amen!!!!!!!! I felt like standing up and shouting that after reading this!!!

Gretchen, Frits, Elisabeth, Harrison and Mia said...

Beauty on many levels.
Love you guys!

lorismusings said...

Beautiful photos, beautiful words, BEAUTIFUL people!

I read this in Psalms this morning and thought of you:

Ps. 75:3 When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants, it is I who keep steady its pillars.

Aimee said...

I truly never knew a thing about Haiti and her people until I started reading your blog right after the earthquake. Haiti is amazing and the people are unbelievably inspiring. Thank you for opening my eyes to this beautiful culture...those women rock!! :)

Ashlee said...

This is beautiful! My first trip to Haiti, I fell in love with the women of Haiti! They are remarkable. Their stregnth is so admirable. I am also extremely burned for the young women of haiti..that they may live in Love with their Savior and come to know His redeeming power!!

Thanks for sharing your heart

johninara said...

so so true...i was reminded of this today as i held one of my own little Haitian ladies on my lap as the nurse swung a butterfly needle around in 3 different dehydrated little veins trying to do a blood draw...not a flinch or a whimper from her, though tears trickled down her that moment it was obvious who was the weaker of the two of us...

Cherie said...

Tara - So well said. I'm one of those people who visited Haiti and will never be the same. One image that is etched in my mind it a group of older ladies who I saw praying at a hospital in Ouanaminthe. I was told they do that daily. They were so devout and dignified. Yes, I see how the women carry Haiti.

godsgiftmylife said...

Hi Tara,

I am doing a research on "Haitian attire" and came across your blog. I am a native Haitian and I thank you for painting a different picture of my people than what others have heard about us. I am glad to see how to world is getting together to help Haiti and at the same time they are seeing how strong we are as people.

I really enjoyed your blog.

Karen & Bob Livesay said...

Beautiful words and photos! :)

LeAnne Hardy said...

Troy, your pictures are beautiful. When Tara writes her book, you should illustrate it.

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