Jillian here and on our 11th day in Haiti there is still no job in sight. I am currently volunteering full time with the American Red Cross, but there is no promise of any money exchanging hands for my services. I am frustrated, insecure, and slightly annoyed that my well laid plans of working for a small organization in order to get the experience I needed to work for a big one, literally crumbled on top of me. The sacrifice I made to move to Haiti or the fight I put up in order to survive the earthquake or the injustice I was dealt by Haitian Ministries after the quake does not translate well in a job application. Living in Haiti for 6 months, does not get me far when the requirements range from master’s degree, to fluent in English, French, and Kreyol, to over 5 years experience working in disaster relief. Ugh, I am feeling like for once in my life these experiences would get me further on a job hunt in Washington, DC than in Port-au-Prince.
In a weird way, this new struggle for employment connects me further with the people of Haiti. In a country where the unemployment rate is really hard to determine, but most sources say over 3/4 of the population does not have formal employment, many Haitians just make up jobs as they go along. My current status give me a new appreciation for the street kids who wash cars in big parking lots just in the hopes of some spare change or the men who run up to you as you park on the street claiming your car, so you will toss them a few gourdes for protecting it while you are out and about. It is really astonishing how Haitians just never give up. Some of them spend their lives accepting that no one will give them a hand up, so they create the opportunities from their own sweat, determination, and creativity. What I would pay for an ounce of that kind of mentality now!
The difference is Frank has a great job, we have a beautiful tent to stay in, money to buy food, and friends willing to house us and help us get back on our two feet. In many ways, my situation being a rarity amongst our friends and family causes my struggle to not go unnoticed. It creates an outpouring of support, love, networking help, and even financial aid. Unfortunately for most Haitians, their dire situation is easily forgotten as they blend into the masses of people who struggle everyday to keep themselves and their families afloat. I do not know how they do it and I am in awe of their strength and perseverance. What I need to do is stop complaining and use the shining examples around me as inspiration.
So cheers to the people of Haiti who once again have taught me a valuable life lesson and here is to me who keeps accepting all of these life lessons with a smile, even though at times they are a little painful!