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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Wonder

Wonder and wondering have been on my mind these last few days.

The 23rd of May marked one year since hopping off the plane in Haiti to work, and it was the first time that I stopped and wondered why it was that I moved here in the first place. Yeah, yeah… I came here to develop a microfinance program for Disciples’ Village after years of dreaming of moving to Haiti upon graduating from college. But how on earth did I ever conclude that living and working in Haiti was the next few threads that God wanted to weave into the tapestry of my life? Why was transitioning from interning in the summers to working on the ground full-time seemingly the next step? Why has it taken me this long to stop and simply wonder?

There is no question or doubt in my mind that where I am in life is exactly where I am meant to now be, but I am beginning to wonder in anticipation for how these few years in Haiti will fit into the grander narratives of the Pearl of the Caribbean and my existence. I believe that all my days were known by the Creator before I lived my very first one over 22 years ago, and I am confident that He is working all things together for my good and for the good of Haiti—regardless of the individual days causing for some wonder. After all, in the words of Switchfoot, “…yeah, without wonder, how could life ever be wonderful (Begin Forever)?”

I also want this second year to be one where I never lose my wonder. Throughout this past year, the sights and sounds and pain and suffering have caused me to grow callus at times. It makes my heart hurt to admit that I have grown accustomed to brushing off the recurrent requests for money or food or gifts or my accessories. Instead of using the discomfort to fuel the flame that burns within to restore dignity to people wasting away in poverty, I often keep silently walking along the rocky path that leads me back to what I know to be comfortable.

The beauty of this island is something that I always want to leave me in wonder. Just this morning, I was in route to a meeting when I began to stare in awe of the way the bright white clouds hung over the tips of the mountains. I cannot count how many times I have driven down that road on a sunny day, and I am thankful that after all this time the stunning view keeps my eyes glued to the scenery that causes me to sit in silence and wonder.

As I sit and wonder about all that I have learned and witnessed and felt in this past year, my brain goes quiet and my words slow to a standstill (like Haitian road traffic much of the time;). All I can feel is utter gratitude and joy deep in my soul. In the year ahead, I hope to make sense of this wonder and to continue to grow and feel and taste and see and work to create opportunities for my Haitian brothers and sisters to sit back and wonder about the meaning and purpose and vision for their own lives.

May we never lose our wonder.

The tale of two Birkenstocks...one fresh out of the box and another having walked hundreds of miles all around Haiti. Oh the stories those shoes could tell!

The tale of two Birkenstocks...one fresh out of the box and another having walked hundreds of miles around Haiti. Oh the stories those shoes can and will tell!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May was a fast yet long month filled with an abundance of learning and stretching opportunities, some moments that left me taken aback with a lack of words, and time to share what I have experienced in my host country with people I love from my home country. I took some time to sit still at night with no music and hear the ocean and babies crying in the fishing village not far from our campus. I learned to charge drill batteries before needlessly unscrewing a bolt by hand to remove a door frame. I decided that I wanted to start living with fresh eyes for the things around me. And I am beginning to see my past and present selfishness magnified in the trials of everyday life and decisions in Haiti. Above all, my gratitude for God’s overwhelming grace increases with each passing day.

Here are some highlight of the month of May:

Simple Joys

  • Avocados are BACK!!
  • Great coffee and air conditioning finds
  • Grapefruit season—I have rediscovered my love for sitting down and peeling a grapefruit for 30-60 minutes depending on the company
  • Knowing enough Creole to understand and participate in jokes

Zizi Ze Poulaye

  • The addition of nesting eggs to encourage our layers to lay their eggs in the nesting boxes—special thanks to my lovely college roommate for sending them back to Haiti with me!
  • The purchase of 30 more layers to be picked up in June!! This will more than double our egg production!
  • The biggest win of the month, the first conversation with my coop employee where we both understood each other’s Creole fully! Mesi Jezi!

Alex’s House Business Development

  • Addition of soaps in the souvenir store to test run sales for a potential future soap business!
  • Ordering and finding out the day of pick up that the company didn’t have the most popular soap varieties—quite disappointing!
  • Looking to order and sell Haiti-made salsa and Pikliz (spicy Haitian slaw eaten with most meals) that support job creation with Haitian ingredients
  • We began tracking our inventory and sales of each drink more closely to predict future sales trends
  • Some of the staff at Alex’s House opened up a fish pond to test possibilities for job creation in the fish industry–I’m anxious to learn from this operation!

Business Leader Training

  • Meeting at the beginning of the month to learn about and discuss how thriving families and businesses benefit us all and how we can support the growth of local businesses and individuals. Good competition is healthy and necessary for a well-functioning economy!
  • An individual meeting with a local agricultural technician to discuss possibilities to increase efficiency and production for DV’s farming communities. It seems as though each day–and this meeting in particular–I learn something that blows some false perception of mine out of the water!

Unfavorable Situations

  • My main hope of transportation is currently out of operation, and the mechanic that we trust to fix it is currently in the US. Mezanmi! That along with a striking country-wide insurance agency and drivers’ license office has opportunities for transportation scarce with licenses and car insurance expiring right and left.
  • A walk to remember—a few days ago I was walking solo to catch up with the AH kiddos on the beach when I came across two unpleasant situations that I am still unsure of how to handle. One was a young lady who responded to the culturally expected greetings with “I’m hungry.” After stumbling over what I wanted to say in Creole without indicating that I would give her something, I decided that I would not let people know that I can communicate with them for the rest of my walk. I exchanged a simple “good morning” with the next group I encountered, only to be met with the Creole equivalency of “Foreigner, give me your backpack.” And as I kept walking trying not to engage and make the situation more challenging, “You can’t hear me? Okay keep walking!” Note to self, always hang up your laundry in time to walk with the group!
  • After purchasing the chickens and walking to the car, I was shocked to hear the words “Give me one dolla” come out of the mouth of a man who had just been in the same room purchasing hundreds if not thousands of dollars of chickens with me! He continued with, “You’re not going to give me money?” NO! I’m still perplexed as to why he asked me that. I guess it’s just another symptom of the many fractures and broken relationships between people who have been given free things and money by foreigners for hundreds of years and people who are foreign but here to work towards sustainable economic change—change that WILL NOT involve handouts.

“Sometimes I wonder… (Fetty Wap, I Wonder)” if I’m dreaming or really getting to live out my current desires for this life. I cannot wait to see the wonder that this next month and year in Haiti will bring!

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