Looking out from the rooftop of one of Port-au-Prince’s upscale apartment buildings, the usually hazy city was vibrant, clean from the recent rain. Turning to face the other ten women who had been summoned to that afternoon oasis, I felt a sense of disconnect, since I’d be leaving in a little over a week.
I soaked in the colorful buildings sloping down to grey concrete buildings to trees and finally to the bay of Port-au-Prince. I took in the colorful Middle Eastern inspired furniture protected by the tin and metal roofing, giving comfort amid the concrete that surrounded us. A consistent breeze prevented heat from becoming unbearable.
Before I became too lost in the moment, my friends Gilda and Ketianne settled in on the blue divan and led a discussion on the condition of women in Haiti. What started as a random assortment of women who had made untold sacrifices in the name of helping Haiti, blossomed into a sisterhood of change makers determined to pull their ancestral land out of squalor. Basking in their glow, I was awed by the variety of their experiences: a PhD candidate, an urban planner, an aid worker turned entrepreneur, a budding journalist. We were young and we were passionate, clinging to the hope that we could make a difference.
I finally realized that I was not alone in the experience of being a twentysomething. I was among those who elected to go out and positively impact the world. I arrived in Haiti thinking that I would quickly adapt, grossly underestimating the struggle that would accompany my choice. Each day, everything I ever believed to be true about the world was challenged from my political beliefs to the spiritual.
I never anticipated that taking the plunge would force me to deal with every aspect of who I am, from the shameful to the points of pride. The ten of us had been shaped by our experiences. It was present in the fine lines on our faces, in the words that we chose. We had been challenged, and that was what we had been looking for.