Haiti through expats’ voices (updated)

Here at Woy, our slogan is “Haiti through our voices.” However today, we thought we might change it up a bit. Here are a few anecdotes and observations by some of the missionaries and adventurers who felt called to don their capes and come save Haiti and  Haitians, brought to you by the Facebook page “You know you’re in Haiti when…” 

 

A few jokes about the recent carnival tragedy.

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….?

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Begging… nature or nurture?

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Ah yes, looting and rioting for plastic bags. 2 likes for you.

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Ah, and my favorite: “If they had any intelligence at all, which we all know they don’t…”

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Maybe life in Haiti is so hard that it’s necessary to have a page where you can vent. Maybe you’re just too sensitive. Maybe.

 Update: (3/25/15) this article was shared on the group page. After much discussion, no apology or explanation was offered for the offensive statements found in this post, quite the opposite. The group’s reaction was instead to make it a private group, and to block people who voiced their offense at the messages found in the group. This way, they can continue to be insensitive in private. “I’m trying to keep this page fun,” the group administrator wrote. Once again, the realization that things found on this page hurt Haitians was never addressed.

The following is a response from one of the group’s most active members to our post: “…there are a great many in Haiti who think that Haiti would be fine without any outsiders at all and are pressing that issue especially with the press. Take all of the outsiders out of this place and it would be nothing but a gang war within a couple of weeks. Want to pick on a group, look into the Haitian Diapora. They, for the most part, are First World educated, many with higher degrees. Where do they want to live and what do they want to do? Anything but live and work in Haiti when they are most capable people of all to ever make this place work…”

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I would like to point out to Mr. Crowley that nobody at Woy Magazine has ever called for all outsiders to leave Haiti.  I have known many foreigners in Haiti throughout my life that I have a lot of respect for. However, foreigners who feel confident to type “take all of the outsiders out of this place and it would be nothing but a gang war within a couple of weeks”? Well, I don’t have you in the same category as the expats that I hold in high esteem. And I would argue, it is such attitudes and condescension that Haitians and the Haitian press would like to see leave.

 

Team Woy

Team Woy

Haiti through our voices. Ayiti nan vwa pa nou.

12 Comments
  1. Hello. My name is Gwenn. I am an ex-pat and I have lived in Haiti for almost 6 years now. I want to come out and say that I was the one who made the meth house joke. I am truly sorry that my joke was offensive. I didn’t mean to offend, it was a joke that I clearly should have thought twice about posting.

    I have never been in a meth house, and I certainly wasn’t suggesting that every home in Haiti is dirty. I was expressing frustration at how difficult it can be in a tropical climate, (especially near the ocean where we are), to keep things like mold/ mildew and bugs in check. Clearly, the joke was in poor taste, and I am sorry this offended you.

    It is not my goal to present Haiti in a bad light. I have lived here for almost 6 years now and this is where I’ve chosen to grow my family. I did come here, initially, as a missionary. And I thought I could make a difference and all that. But the longer I have been here, the more I have come to appreciate the beauty, the challenge, the chaos, the community– all those things that make Haiti what it is. Often times when we hear about tropical destinations referred to, we use the term “tropical paradise.” My husband and I refer to Haiti as a “tropical reality.” We get to see the amazing beauty of this place (we live in Jacmel), but we also see all of the everyday life that plays a part in keeping Haiti “real.” We appreciate the beauty in that. And so the longer we are here, the more we’re working on transitioning our lives to being about just living here, not as an aid worker or missionary, but as a member of a community. In all our “public” communications about our lives here, we try to show that balance. It’s not all bad, and it’s not all good.

    Cultural differences can be funny at times. And I really, truly do believe that the group was created to create a place to laugh at these funny observations. When there was criticism from someone in the Diaspora who happens to live now where I grew up, I made the the point that where I am from (New Jersey) is often criticized, and I linked to similar internet jokes about where I am from in an effort to show that the road goes both ways.

    I hope that you will accept my apology. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss the issue further.

  2. “Take all of the outsiders out of this place and it would be nothing but a gang war within a couple of weeks.” I am glad you’re here Joe to keep everyone safe. smh

  3. @Terry there was a time when there was almost no outsiders and then the place was considered the pearl of the Caribbean — Go Figure! The saviors just don’ t have a clue why Haiti is this state a bit of history will enlighten some dark savior mind.

  4. I am glad that this is coming to light. I am an expat and intentionally did not join this group because I found it offensive. Maybe people will start to think twice about why they are here and what they say and do.
    And the gang wars comment… come on. Get over yourself.

  5. I was the admin on this group that doesn’t exist anymore. I have not been contacted about any of this or asked what my response is or anything. I have not commented at all and I am the only admin on this group. I understand that the statements made by others were suppose to reflect “the group as a whole” and that is completely not true. I wasn’t even aware of most of this going on until late yesterday into this morning. The attempt to close it or make is secret was only temporary so that I could look into how to delete the group. It’s not simple to just delete the group all together and it turns out Facebook has to actually do it. I deleted each member once by one because that’s what the procedures say to do to end a group. It was not to be offensive or try to keep certain people out so that we can talk in “private”. Quite the opposite. I have not been asked what I have to say about this whole situation, which out of respect, I wish that courtesy would have been made to me…but I will place it here for those that care.
    I started the page 6 months ago. I have been living as a volunteer in Haiti for 2 years. I love it. Absolutely and all of Haiti’s amazing people. That is why I gave up my life in California and moved there to be part of an organization that is doing a lot of good there.
    I started this page because I love the Haitian people and Haiti with all of my heart. I have been part of a page from my small town in California called “you know you’re from Visalia when..” for about 8 years where all of us from Visalia can share things that only people from there would know. Landmarks, events, silly facts. That’s all. This was intended to be like that. There are a ton of similar pages and I thought I would start one after living in Haiti. After living in Haiti for 2 years there are so many “only Haiti” things that crack me up everyday and make me happy to live in Haiti. I thought it would be a fun place to share those and all of my Haitian friends loved to see them and thought it was appropriate and I took my queue from them. Though I am the creator of the group, I had no idea most of this was going on. Though I check on the page almost everyday, and attempt to remove the things that I think are inappropriate, I have a job and responsibilities and can’t live on the page. I have learned the hard way that I do not have the time it takes to properly manage a page like this. I am so sad that anyone would think of myself or most of the group like that. I’m so sorry that I offended anyone by opening the page or not being quick enough to remove posts. That is my fault and negligence due to time only. I love Haiti with all of it’s quirks and I love the Haitian people with all of my heart. I have spent 2 years volunteering in Haiti to help to empower them and help in any way I can through the organization I work with. I hope and pray that people know my heart and intent. It breaks my heart that this hurt anyone. If you notice any of the above comments were not made my myself and I didn’t even see most of them until they were published like this. That is my fault for not monitoring better but I never imagined this would get this out of hand. That does not mean that I condone or agree with any of the comments or posts. Like I said, I closed the group and removed the members and did everything I could figure out to do and I hope and pray that nothing like this will ever happen. I apologize from the bottom of my heart.

  6. Let the haitian joke for and with themselves, this is fine… but not expats who pretend to love Haiti from “the bottom of their heart”… you must know that ACTION brings REACTION…. And use other therapeutic ways to bring out your frustrations…. just shut up….

  7. Apologies that include “Sorry that you were offended” or “Sorry for offending anyone” are in fact not apologies at all. The owner of the group who claims ignorance is simply lying. Like another poster, I visited the page and avoided it like the plague. It was simply an opportunity for a few people who are not really much in their own countries to exercise their privilege in a place that makes it easier for them to enjoy white privilege. That gang comment was actually MORE offensive than any of the above posts which to be honest I actually found to be mild compared to others I’ve seen on the page.

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