What Can We Learn from Haitians during the Covid-19 Crisis?

Reflections from TJS Education Director, Katie Martin.

The first word that comes to my mind when I think of Haitians is resilience. The dictionary defines this as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness”.

The Joseph School

I (Katie) have refused to panic during this pandemic. I think a lot of that has to do with working in Haiti for nearly three years now. I am stronger because of them. Many Americans are panicking over not being able to work or stocking up on food because we don’t know when we will be able to get it. Students can’t go to school, restaurants and other businesses are closed, there are no events, and we can’t even gather for worship or to honor someone’s life. These things are hard for us to accept in a country that states freedom as one of the most important rights we have.

I wonder every single day how Haitians go through these types of situations daily. 

Haitians live day to day because they have to. Their unemployment rate is high so most of them make their own jobs by selling goods or initiating trades with their friends and family to get what they need. They find a way to turn their skills into a way to survive.

As a nonprofit, we tend to focus on what we can do for Haitians and can easily fail to see what we can learn from them.

Need help getting through these difficult times?

Here is some advice from our Educational Leadership at TJS.

Our principal (Rose Magdala Amede) shared four key pieces of advice:

-In all situations, dwell on the positive side

-Take all the details into consideration (even the most insignificant)

-Be strong

– Fight to survive, in all circumstances

Our lead teacher (Edrice Bastien) told me: 

“It is true as Haitians, we have an enormous capacity to face a whole set of difficulties. The worst that I knew was the cataclysm of January 12, 2010, but despite everything, we withstood with certainty that everything will be better. In the subconscious of our being, I suppose, there is something that makes us believe and understand that there is hope even when everything seems annihilated. There is hope that tomorrow will be better than yesterday and even today. And as the Haitian proverb said tout o tan tèt pa koupe, li espere mete chapo, meaning so as long as there is life, we can always hope for another world. And of the same idea, if I manage to give advice to an American it would be this one — love life and hope that everything can change over time. And as for you, Ms. Katie, we know the sad news that distresses and overwhelms Americans in the face of this pandemic (coronavirus). Faced with this situation, we urge you to remain firm and we beg you to remain safe because GOD WILL PROVIDE.

Haitians come together and stay strong no matter their circumstances. A lesson we can all learn.