Josh Shipp recently said, “every child needs just one stable adult to become a success story.’’ Isn’t this the truth? Hasn’t it always been the truth? As foreigners, it’s easy to assume implementing Westernized ideologies into the Haitian culture is the best solution to many of the country’s problems regarding poverty. It’s easy to assume that the foreigner not only provides the solution, but is the solution. However, this mentality can be more harmful than helpful. It’s difficult to implement change as a stranger and it’s challenging to provide such stability as an outsider. What if rather than focusing on and succumbing to the foreigner’s ability to save Haiti, the Haitian people were empowered to help themselves?
Despite the odds against him, Elize, a longtime artisan at Papillon, is determined to provide his wife and four children the care they need and the care he knows they deserve. The gentle expression on his face offers sincerity as he describes the hardships of fulfilling his role as the leader of his household in a country like Haiti. “The people are very vulnerable…we need support, we want to work, but the government doesn’t think about us so we continue on by ourselves.” Elize’s perseverance is evidenced from the joy he radiates not only as he shares of his struggle but also of his gratitude for the opportunity he’s been given through Papillon to earn a consistent income. Amidst the discouragement he faces, this husband and father is motivated to give his loved ones stability and hope for their future together.
A stable adult, a system of support, an outlet of encouragement and love – Elize is one of many who seeks to give his children a better life. A child’s developmental success is dependent upon the pivotal years of adolescence, a result of the individuals who poured into them, but also of the individuals who didn’t. There is no reason this stable adult, the determinant of the future success of a child, cannot be his or her biological parent. Elize proves this as he fights the statistics, as he fights the expectations, and as he fights a deeply engrained mentality that the foreigner is the savior, the means to provision and the answer to one’s problems. Elize, through his sustainable job at Papillon, is capable of being the gateway to his children’s success stories.