WE ARE HAITIANS working to make our community a place where our people want to live.
This is important. It “means” many things:
It means our vision is shaped by a Haitian perspective.
It means our actions are driven by a Haitian understanding of the needs.
It means we are Haitians helping Haitians.
It means we have a Haitian perspective on Haiti.
It means foreign partners might not always understand where we are coming from or why we choose to do things a certain way. (In other words, it often means working to achieve cross-cultural understanding.)
(We are followers of Jesus. (see this post))
I (Krischelle) would like to take a moment to comment on this personally:
I was born and raised in the US. I went to a Bible college and graduated from the missions program, so I was exposed to a lot of the missions world. Now, I am the only foreigner on our Haiti staff.*
Coming from this perspective, the fact that we are a Haitian organization working in Haiti to reach Haitians has a lot of significance for me. It makes us rather different in the missions world in general. Not automatically better, but unique in what we do and how we do it. We’re a bit...unconventional. We don’t fit very well into a lot of people’s pigeon holes. After being here more than 9 years, I frequently have conversations with foreigners where I feel like we are coming from totally different planets. The expectations and understanding of how ministry or development work happens are so unalike.
A foreign missions organization and a foreign missionary or short-term visitor naturally have a different perspective than a native organization and a native missionary reaching his/her own people. This difference in perspective in turn impacts how you reach out.
It affects how you understand the needs. It affects what methods you use. It affects how you feel about the country in which you live and serve. It affects what matters to you. It affects how you see things long term.
My point here is not to argue what is better or worse. Both approaches have their time, place, and importance. However, I think it can be generally acknowledged that there are key advantages to a native person or people reaching his/her/their own people.
And when that innate knowledge and experience and natural-born passion finds trust and partnership in foreign friends who can offer support and a hand up where there are needs—whether needs of knowledge or needs of finances or needs of skills—then you truly have something beautiful and effective.
That’s one thing that’s special for me about Lemuel. It is the opportunity to bring what I have to
offer---as a person, certainly, but also as a foreigner—to support a ministry driven by what I can never have: a Haitian passion with Haitian perspective and experience to reach Haitians.
If you are a Haitian reading this, you can be proud of what is being done by your countrymen in your country.
If you are a foreigner reading this you can be proud of being partner in it.
*The only other foreigners on staff are Brad and Danyel, representing Lemuel in the States from Lancaster, PA. In case you think I’m forgetting Judy, I do not consider her a foreigner, having been born and raised in Haiti.