Raw and Urgent: Living in the “The Now”
I asked Linda Boucard, the impressive Haitian-American staff member of Fonkoze USA who is based in Haiti and manages most of the delegations and visitors who come from abroad, what she thought was essential in the book. First, she said, “Let the Haitian woman speak. Let their voices be heard.” I was glad I spent long hours interviewing Fonkoze clients and have more — including some re-interviews — set for my upcoming trip. This also prompted me to read a book by Professor Marie Racine, a founding member of Fonkoze USA, titled, “Like the Dew that Waters the Grass: Words from Haitian Women” (helpfully loaned to me by Leigh Carter).
She also said it must be “raw” — because Haiti is so raw. I’ve been thinking about that word ever since. Sugar-coating the agonies, the setbacks, the triumphs and the various emotions experienced here is a trap I’ll try not to fall into. For people working within Fonkoze, it almost seems that the most emotionally charged day that you or I would have over the course of a year is the typical day for them. How to convey that without losing track of the fact that these are people who put their pants on, one leg at a time, and have moments that are as ordinary and mundane as any of us do?
Over dinner last night with Corey Hastings, Anne’s son who spent two years in Haiti, we discussed another aspect of the Fonkoze story: URGENCY! We joked that his mother uses the word “now” much more than the average person. He quite plausibly surmised that given the realities of trying to get things done in Haiti, unless you approach something with high purpose and a strong sense of urgency, it will never happen. It makes for a fast-moving, and yes, rather “raw” organizational culture from top to bottom.
Speaking of raw, here is a picture of me with Father Joseph — he is pointing out where the primary and high school he built stood, before it collapsed in the January 12, 2010 earthquake.