Friday, October 14, 2011


I'm starting to ask myself more and more why it's "better to give than to receive." In North American culture, giving is more comfortable. There's an awful lot of power inherent in being a giver. Receiving, on the other hand, can be humbling, sometimes even shaming.

And, well, aren't most foreigners, even those of us that want to believe otherwise, in Haiti out of some [often misguided] sense of altruism? Whether of money, time, resources, expertise, even solidarity... we're here to be givers and, without meaning to, we reinforce the power dynamics that have been created by our very presence here as givers.

Paradoxically, one of the things Haiti is teaching me over and over again is how to receive. Like with these beautiful tart seriz (barbados cherries) from the garden of an extremely resource-poor friend, seriz he went expressly to Léogâne to pick so that he could gift them to us... I swallowed my pride (and the feeling that I should be giving something to him instead) and used them to make delicious cherry juice.


nerkert said...

I would be happy indeed to be gifted with cherries right now - and I'm glad that you were! (I love knowing that you are drinking all of those antioxidants.)

Anonymous said...


Just wanted to say thanks for posting this; I found it really thoughtful and moving. I follow your work through Other Worlds, etc., but seeing your writing in this context, where you can pause for personal reflection, is great. This is something that all of us immersed in/interested in this line of work need to keep in mind.


Anonymous said...

hmmm....yes, too true. thx.

T & T Livesay said...

I also wanted to thank you for posting this. True things written there.

respect from down the hill,


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