I received a long message last week: “Fb (Facebook) posting shy but have an opinion on teams giving out stuff…”
This was in response to a question that I had put to the Haiti discussion group on Facebook. My post:
“What are your feelings when foreigners (non-Haitian) give out candy or little knickknacks to a Haitian child without permission from the Haitian parent or any adult who is there with them?”
I was asked to post this question by a dear friend of mine, who is not Haitian, who had her Haitian kids out with her and some team members of another organization walked right up to them, without her permission, and started handing out candy. Many people responded about how they have seen this behavior and are often embarrassed, shocked, or angry. Several people said that they could see why people would do this because they’re unaware of how wrong and disrespectful it is. But this was the answer (sent in the message box) that really expressed how I feel about it.
“We had a meeting for parents (Haitian) a couple years ago explaining what we wanted to do here (Haiti) and asked if that was something they wanted for their kids and asked what was important to them. Several hundred parents and they first said “no on ever asks us what we want or what we think is important for our children. They just come to our village and do vbs or an activity. They call our children to come and we don’t know who they are or what they teach” “it’s important to us that they are safe, can be fed and we want them to learn not to join gangs, watch bad things on games or Internet, have sex, walk away from God…” I know people come with huge hearts to serve and share Jesus but when you see a group of forty walking through the same village day after day with one small tree and they are basically taking pictures and I see my Haitian friends give me the roll their eyes look like they do nothing for us but we’re gonna put on a smile and hopefully get something from them it breaks my heart. The language barrier is a huge problem because interpreters can only translate for so many and sometimes they only translate what they think you need to hear.
“Showing true respect and acknowledgement to parents who may feel less than the blans is important to both them and for their children to see.
“So many kids we know grew up in a time after the earthquake of handouts and at no fault of their own still expect it. Giving them activities/projects to do or things to help with or hand out (locally made or bought) in their community for their neighbors teaches them how to give and what that feels like when they do.”
That pretty much says it all!