Shersty Stanton
Shersty Stanton
Haiti 2017 - 2019
Byenveni! Welcome! Join me on a journey to the rural villages of Haiti to use microfinance and business leader training to foster economic growth and community development. As a graduate of Belmont University’s social entrepreneurship program, I look forward to furthering my knowledge of implementing sustainable change in an intercultural setting.
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Cycles

This morning before church I was warmly greeted by two sweet four years olds that I have had the pleasure of watching grow up these past few years. We have gone through quite a cycle of their opinions of me, beginning with them being snuggly infants who enjoyed spending time together, then becoming shy two years olds scared of my foreign white skin and blonde hair, and now at three and four they have both come around again and have become two of my best little friends in that community. It makes my heart sing to see sweet Esther in her bright green school uniform and Mr. Shadrack assisting his grandmother in the chicken coop each time I’m in Trouforban for work. Both of their families are impacted by our Zizi Ze Poulaye (Sassy Eggs Chicken Coop), so fortunately for me I get to see them often. Oh, how I love them so!

And oh how I look forward to them and their tiny peers growing up with food in their bellies and knowledge in their brains and eventually becoming the movers and shakers of their community and influencing the world around them. I have a feeling that they will be the generation to break the cycle and chains of poverty in their families, and Haiti will continue to move forward and flourish under their leadership. What an honor it will be to get to witness their personal growth and consequently the growth of a nation.

The idea of the variety of cycles in life and in my work has been on my mind for the past month, specifically what actions need to be taken to break said cycles. Unfortunately, I often come up with more questions than answers, but that’s what these few years in Haiti are about—learning to interrupt and eventually break the cycles that keep people from living out their dreams and God-given potential. A few cycles that have been on my mind lately include…

The cycle of poverty that traps people into only thinking one moment or one day at a time without the luxury or necessity of planning and preparing for the future. The “I can’t prepare for tomorrow because it won’t come if I don’t meet my needs today,” which is totally understandable considering some people’s living conditions.

The debt cycles sometimes seen in microfinance, leaving people borrowing more money with higher interest rates to pay back their first loans and leading to bankruptcy or worse depending on the laws of the land.

The enslaving cycle of Vodou and the sacrifices it demands, telling its participants that they can leave if they just surrender money or an animal one more time and then again and again and again. Not to mention the deadly ignorance the people are kept in by those who financially benefit from these sacrifices, making sure their minds are clouded and impeding their judgment to make sound decisions to better their future. In my time in Haiti I’ve learned of many people dying and many businesses going under because a Vodou priest/priestess convinced them to submit to their authority (and pay them) for healing and to sabotage other businesses instead of going to trained doctors for medicine or working harder to beat the competition.

The water cycle (or often the lack there of in Haiti), and the cycle of desertification, “the process by which fertile land becomes desert, typically as a result of drought, deforestation, or inappropriate agriculture (New Oxford American Dictionary).” No trees equals no roots to hold fertile soil into place and no transpiration from the plants to put water vapor back into the air to form clouds and bring rain again, making the task of re-growing forests rather daunting.

 

These cycles often leave my head spinning, but I keep praying and hoping that each day I’ll take the right steps to tilt them ever so slightly. And before we know it, a few years and decades will go by and the cycles that were once dampening will be no more and new, life-giving cycles will be rotating future generations in a different orbit.

But for now, life keeps going on, the battle is still being fought, and hallelujah God’s grace and mercies are new every morning!

Wow...what an eventful and joy-filled and fast month June was! Looking back at the beginning of the month and all that happened feels like a year ago and yesterday all at the same time! Time–slow down! I’m forever grateful for the good and the bad and everything in between that each day brings. I wish I had the time and umph to write in detail about everything that I’m learning and experiencing, but for now here’s a snapshot of the many happenings of June!

Business Leader Training

  • Timely attendance for the meetings! A HUGE step!
  • In June we discussed the cycles of business as related to the cycle of trees, both needing fertile grounds/markets, deep roots/purpose, the proper nutrients/investments, good fruit/products, and appealing flowers/marketing.
  • We have a core group of business leaders representing 3 of our 4 partnering villages who are consistently attending, and they continue to attentively interact, provide great feedback on ideas, and some are even taking what we discuss back to their communities to share what we’re learning!
  • We began doing Ten Minute Essays (thanks for the idea, Kathy Brooks of 2nd Story Goods!) to have the leaders think and dream about what could become of their beloved communities in the decades to come and the investments needed to make their dreams come true! It has been so great to hear their different perspectives and learn more about the needs and their ideas of fixing them along the way. 

Zizi Ze Poulaye

  • The task of buying 500 lbs of feed to prepare for our new layers!
  • We were finally able to pick up 30 additional layers for the coop halfway through June! Mesi Jezi! The new chickens integrated into their new environment well, and all are producing many eggs for the egg sellers of Trouforban to purchase! It was quite the experience to deliver and tag the new layers at dusk. Difficult but fun with my coworkers!
  • We’re going to have to adjust egg pricing to accommodate for an increase in food prices. I’m praying this is well received and goes smoothly!
  • I had the honor of buying some eggs from one of the local sellers (Esther’s momma!) whose family is especially dear to me! I love eggs and I love supporting families through local businesses (especially ones that I oversee ;).
  • It has also been exciting to watch our “chicken Grandma” take ownership for the coop and love our dear egg-producing ladies! She cares for them so well and the love her so! One day I popped in to check on the new chickens and found her sitting with her “madame yo” (ladies) with one in her lap enjoying the afternoon breeze. So beautiful. 

AH Businesses

  • The new inventory (salsa and soaps made from Haiti grown ingredients) is selling well at our souvenir store! This is helpful in directing what products our job creation efforts might create one day!
  • Our little store is doing quite nicely with theses summer mission teams!! Good for us and for the job creation it is supporting from business throughout the country!
  • We had some issues with our drink coolers, so a week was spent trying to freeze ice or buying it to keep the drinks cold…something so small yet so aggravating! Praise the Lord DV’s field director fixed the problem!
  • There was also a bottled drink shortage that had us searching all over for drinks to buy. We had some fun and made some new relationships along the way!

Job Creation Ideas

  • A library, solar oven/stove, and selling filtered water for one community
  • Goat’s milk products
  • Teaching people to sew—the human capital and supplies needed are coming together! 

Challenging Times

  • The stressors that come with large teams serving with DV and staying at our guesthouse. While I don’t directly work with the teams, when we’re over max capacity it’s all hands on deck! Thankfully I’ve learned from past experiences of exhaustion from trying to do my job and help with teams and handled it a tad better than the last times. Progress, however small, is progress!
  • A trying late night difficult situation had me going back and forth from furious to asking forgiveness to furious and on and on. I’m learning to guard my attitude and expressed anger when I get tired.
  • In my fatigue I carelessly sliced part of one of my toenails off trying to move metal to prepare our coop run for more chickens. Consequently, I missed some spots patching up the chicken wire and I had to chase rogue chickens—hilarious but quite difficult!!
  • My roommate for the past 10 months left to return to her life in the US…a very sad time but I’m thankful for time with her this past year and I look forward to her bright future ahead of her!

Simple Joys

  • Polishing the nails of the women in one of our partnering villages after church one morning. So sweet and fun to be able to spend time with them in this way! Clear polished and manicured nails are kind of a status thing here in Haiti. The GLOWED when showing off their fresh hands!
  • Trying Pain Patat—a traditional Haitian dessert similar to bread pudding with sweet potatoes and ginger—for the first time after wanting it for YEARS! It was delightful!
  • I’ve found my go to watermelon and French melon lady who gives me BOMB melons at a fantastic price!
  • Driving through the beauty of the mountains and the ocean. Life is more vibrant and alive from the driver’s seat!
  • One day I went to the local market looking for extra coffee mugs for our large team and came out with a coconut, several avocados, and a “mamit” of coffee instead—one item from each person I asked for directions about who was selling mugs! Ha! My search for cups for coffee was misunderstood as me looking for the coffee grounds themselves. I’ll look up the exact words in creole next time, but I got to meet some sweet ladies along the way!
  • The team effort to (unsuccessfully) catch our rapidly multiplying cats to get them vaccinated! The end result was several cut hands, no contained cats, and an abundance of laughter!
  • Finding the MOST BEAUTIFUL beach/mountain cove about 15 minutes away from our house. No pictures—too in awe of the sights to even think about taking pics
  • Finding, purchasing, and eating some starfruit! So fun!
  • My counters and sink are installed after a few weeks without! Mesi Jezi! I’ve never been so happy and excited to do the dishes before!

Learning Moments

  • The car I get to drive is finally back and drivable!!! We’ve had our fair share of problems since it’s return, but I’m learning the art of regular maintenance and I’m ever so thankful for some wheels to get my work done more independently!
  • My mutually exclusive nature of living in Haiti and working in Haiti. I cannot seem to successfully do both at the same time! Depending on the day, I can either do the work part well and efficiently or I can do the cooking/cleaning/managing the house well in a timely fashion but never both at the same time. I’m hoping managing both well will come in due time.
  • Loved ones are starting to move away from Nashville and others are making big moves in their career! I’m learning that while I still love the city itself, my attachment is more to the people.
  • Fresh Eyes…driving at the base of the mountains and staring in awe as if it was the first time. I hope each day fills me with awe and wonder and gratitude as if I’m experiencing God’s goodness, grace, mercy, love, and faithfulness for the first time. On second thought, those things become more precious as time passes and as He continues to prove Himself faithful, good, and just. The importance of approaching problems and situations and possibilities with fresh eyes and a renewed mind.
  • Childlike faith… What I’ve let one year in Haiti take from me, when it should be the first thing I developed. Too afraid to take risks because I’ve seen and witnessed and been at the center of failed outcomes. I haven’t prayed bold prayers IN FAITH. I haven’t dreamed and then gone to work to make it happen IN FAITH. I’ve been passive in a world that requires quiet aggression and pursuit. Thankfully today is a new day to make some changes in how I view and tackle my work here in Haiti!

Wow. I’m in awe of June. What a month! July, you’ve got some big shoes to fill but you’re off to a great start. N’ap pale pita! (We’ll talk later!)

One thought on “Cycles”

  1. Shersty I am so proud of you and I love your big heart! Your love for the Haitian people and dreams for their future through the words that you write are deeply touching. God has truly called you to do his work in Haiti. 💕

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