By: Anna Harkins (photos below)
Human beings often face themselves with a series of questions that revolve around their existence. I found myself in a moment of doubt; reflecting upon my choice to join this trip, I was overcome with a sense of hesitation and nervousness. What did I get myself into? How could I have agreed to this? Had I lost my mind traveling to Haiti with a group of absolute strangers?
Emotions were running wild. I had landed in Haiti: The Pearl of the Antilles. There was no turning back.
We arrived in Chantal with the objective of sharing our love with the children. Again, I began doubting myself: What was I doing there? These children would never like me. I must have made a terrible mistake by simply showing up. These thoughts gave me a plethora of reasons to be guarded and cautious when entering the RFA domain. I stood quietly at the entrance, trying to get a read on the kids. Ultimately, I made up my mind to not be overjoyed, but I would not be stand-offish either. While I waited for them to make their moves, I was not prepared for what happened next.
A little girl extended her arms out and wrapped them tightly around my waist. I was frozen. With a smile, she was beaming positive energy and delight. In that moment, Poline did not know my name, she did not judge me, and she did not care where I came from (physically or emotionally). Yet, she accepted me just the same. My wall of doubt had been breached by this small child and her solid hug. Little did I know that by the end of my time in Haiti, Poline would have restored the vivacity that was very much missing from my days and ignite my own transformation.
Now, allow me point out that there were many brilliant moments with the other children as well but I can’t possibly dive into the juicy details of each event. I am merely writing about an influential occasion where a child provided me with the perspective I had been longing for. That being said, I shared a powerfully revealing art therapy session with Poline that surpassed the barriers of language, race, age, and socioeconomic status. During a simple craft designed to get the kids feeling and talking about their favorite person, I witnessed the amazing resilience of the human spirit from her response. I was touched by how she did not let her misfortunes, hardships, or traumas dim her inner fire. Although I am quite certain she did not fully understand the psychological undertone of the project, I’d like to believe that something resonated with this exquisite pearl.
While it was a wonderful opportunity for us to share our lives with these children, in the end it was my heart that was truly transformed. I am forever grateful for this journey that has given me a lovely new outlook on life. I feel a renewed energy traveling through me. My senses are intensified with a new found sense of alertness. I am elevated as though something has entered my bloodstream and has spread to various parts of my body. I release the mental restrictions I have put on myself as an adult and apply the fresh perspectives I have absorbed from the free spirited RFA children.
I am by no means implying that one has to travel to Haiti to inspire this sensation I speak of. However, I would not have felt the immediate effects of a quiet embrace and the exchange of admiration with a generously loving child had I not ventured into Haiti.