The Challenges of Today Become the Progress of Tomorrow
Thursday, November 10, 2005
I decided to spend my first year out of college in
There has been no shortage of obstacles to achieving my goals. Communications can be difficult because the cell phone network doesn’t reach our valley, a lack of electricity prohibits internet access through even the most advanced satellite technology, and the nearest post office is two hours and a large headache away. The Haitian custom of warmly greeting each person you encounter at the office is much appreciated, but it can be a burden when there is much work to be done. Even seemingly unrelated problems can be a hindrance; it is tough to work well when there isn’t any water to bathe with, or when hunger sets in because rice and beans have been served for the 83rd consecutive day (and counting).
Mother Nature has her own unique role to play in this game. When tropical storm-force rains hit
As daunting as these challenges may be, they pale in the face of the daily struggles of the peasants of Fondwa. My work hardly compares to their own, toiling under the hot
The Peasant Association of Fondwa (APF), which founded the university I work for, was created in 1988 by local farmers to take on these challenges together. It seems that what allows the members to overcome the myriad difficulties they face is the fact that they have a common goal, the goal of promoting the well-being of the community.
What continues to impress me is the relentlessness with which they pursue that goal, regardless of the numerous difficulties that lie before them. With each milestone that is reached through the efforts of the APF, like the construction of the local school and orphanage, planting of trees, and planning of model farms, the solidarity of the group increases. The more they accomplish as a group, the greater their capacity to work together becomes.
In the same way, I have found that my personal challenges have been a necessary stepping-stone to completing the work that I have been given to do. Without them, I would have no basis for understanding the problems of the people I have come to live with. If it were easy to build a university in the mountains of