Walking the Road of Partnership

“We make the road by walking it” —Martin Luther King, Jr.

My first trip to Haiti was an adventure that involved traveling a lot of roads—some smooth, some bumpy, some dusty, and some so muddy that our 4-wheel drive truck nearly got stuck.

This serves as a good picture for working in Haiti.  We Americans complain when there are a few pot holes on our street and we tend to expect things to go smoothly most of the time.  Life in Haiti is less predictable, and as Luther, one of our missionary founders, often said, “In Haiti you must be flexible, or you will break.”

In January, Doug, Jeff, and I had the opportunity to meet with our partners, including pastors, their wives, and other leaders from the four communities that we have partnered with for more than a decade. The community of St. Martin hosted our Leadership and Training Conference, which also included coordinators and translators who have worked with us over the years. It was such a delight to meet the many people that I’ve been learning about since starting as Director last fall. The roads are difficult at times, but the people of Haiti are such a blessing—their strength, joy, and hospitality are remarkable.

Haiti H2O desires to come alongside our brothers and sisters in Haiti to help develop hope and opportunity in their communities. Partnership is not the same as charity.  Partnership involves mutual respect and affirming the dignity of each person.

That is why our board and staff felt it was crucial to meet as a complete organization—Haitians and Americans—as we strategize for the next decade. We celebrated past accomplishments, discussed the assets of each community, and proposed needs for 2018 and beyond. It was a wonderful weekend, and we are all excited to grow together to meet the needs in each community.

Our community partners expressed a desire to host more American teams—at least two teams per year for each community.  In order to accommodate an increase in trips, we all agreed that it would help to formalize our in-country leadership structure. One of the assets of Haiti H2O has always been strong relationships within each partnering community. That spirit was evident as we discussed developing the infrastructure to host more teams.

It is a bit daunting to go into unchartered waters and figure out new systems for doing things. However, the Haitians are up for the challenge and we Americans are trying to be flexible and take cues from our brothers and sisters who know much more adversity than we do on a daily basis. Coming out of the conference, we hope to follow in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s footsteps as we continue, together with our Haitian partners, to “make the road by walking it.”

  by Rhonda Smith, Director