Living in Haiti these last 27 plus years has been a blessing as well as a test of the strength of my character. I remember the early days after I got married when I did not speak the language and missed my family and familiar things so much. It was not the era of FaceTime and Skype. Communication was limited to letters by post or the occasional phone call made through a local operator; if they could find a circuit connection. I was homesick and in an alien environment and new culture which was totally unfamiliar. I had the choice to give it my all and learn everything to adapt to this new life or to remain rigid and unable to adjust to a new reality. I realized that if I did not make the effort, I would only alienate myself further. I chose to be open minded and receptive to learning about the country, its customs and people. I had to find the courage to put on my ‘big girl pants’ and do what I needed to adjust, settle and create a new home in Haiti.
Some days were good and some were not. On the days when I was weak, discouraged and unsure, I focused on my inner strength to keep me on track. When I came home from work, I zoned in on my art, music and cooking. In time I made a few friends and could navigate my way around town on my own. I learned French and Creole fluently within 2 years, making lots of laughable mistakes in the process. In retrospect, I was bold enough to make the mistakes but most importantly not to let them be a barrier to learning. When I had my first child, I began to feel a greater attachment to my life in Haiti.
I am lucky to have a husband and partner who has always believed in me and supported my ideas. He has been my moral compass and is instrumental in believing in my ability, even during the most challenging times. We started a business and I honed in on my creativity. We raised our young family the best way we could, instilling good values and ethics. I adopted a trailblazer attitude by cutting my own path and doing what I thought was right and not blindly following what everyone else did. As I loved culinary arts, this form of expression became my link to my home country. I cooked for my children and for my husband, so that they could feel the love and connection to a country far away. I told them stories about my beautiful Guyana, Land of Many Waters and Land of 6 Peoples. They learned about diversity and how to appreciate my home country, even though they had not grown up there. It was important for me to keep a multicultural homestead for my family. My children needed to be aware of both their father and my identities and to relate to both respectfully. Food was the perfect vehicle for creating this love and deepening their curiosity.
There is no manual for life which you can access to find exact tailored points on making the best decisions. You just have to figure out what is best for your situation and focus on achieving that goal everyday. The path has not always been easy by any means. I feel that the things for which you invest the most and labor the hardest for are the ones which you also hold in the highest esteem. After all of these years, I am still here in Haiti where I am raising my children from their birth as Haitians “Natif Natal”. My eldest sons are today grown men who are very proud of their mixed heritage. In their professional lives they have always represented Haïti at the highest level of their work. My youngest is also proud of her multi ethnic make up and has grown up appreciating all of the facets of being from two cultures.
One of the most important things which we uphold as a family is the creed that whatever you do, give it your all and represent it the best you can. Although I may be a Guyanese girl by birth, today I am a Haitian by choice and in my soul. I will forever hold my beautiful Guyana in my heart as the country of my birth. I am warmed by the wonderful nostalgia of my childhood and I think back from time to time of my youth in Georgetown. Haiti is now my home and it is where my life and family are based. For these reasons, it was only fitting that I chose the name of my blog: Guyanese Girl Haitian Soul, highlighting my experiences and what I represent today.