Nou Led, Nou La: How Haiti Will Rise From the Ashes
Every year on Haitian Flag Day we Haitians celebrate the international symbol of Black pride, fearlessness and strength. One thing I love about our language Haitian Creole, is how blunt and honest it allows us to be. "Nou led, nou la" is a phrase many of us Haitians know meaning "we’re ugly, we’re here". I always interpreted it as no matter how ugly life can be, you must remain resilient. But as another Haitian Flag Day approaches and I learn newer things, it now holds a different meaning. "Nou led, nou la" is a declaration of perseverance and strength. Haiti has been left for dead, but we are here and always will be. This matters so much to me. As the world's first Black independent nation, Haiti will forever be known as the catalyst that changed the course of history for Africans everywhere, forever. But quite frankly, we’ve heard it all before. .
Last year, a lawsuit filed against the The United Nations was dismissed - even after they admitted to unknowingly bringing Cholera to Haiti,. An unsanitary U.N camp for “peacekeepers” negligently allowed cholera-contaminated sewage to seep into a nearby stream who’s waters flow directly into Haiti’s largest river, Artibonite. Cholera is an infectious disease that causes severe dehydration and can kill in as little as a few hours if gone untreated. Cholera claimed an estimated 9,000 lives, and infected an additional 700,000 people not too long after a devastating earthquake took the lives of over 200,000 people. It is said that it might have been one individual traveling from Nepal to have brought such a catastrophic disease to my country who never dealt with Cholera ever in its history. The same people who came to help with our recovery, were the same ones who caused additional suffering and they are doing everything to avoid penalization.
What was once a short exchange between the women of the countryside of Haiti, should now be seen as a slogan of power and resistance. We’ve been beaten, cheated, knocked down, and killed but we are still here. We are still fighting. Now it is time to take care of our own.
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
Haiti may not be the apple of the World’s eye, but those who are from Haiti and those who’ve been to Haiti know that Haiti is flourishing with beauty, art, and energy. Aside from the gold, copper, marble, hydro-power, and fertile land that Haiti has produced naturally, Haiti is full of treasures. We might not be sweet to look at, but we know the prizes we possess. There is value here. There is dignity here. There is a future here.
As a Haitian-American who’s never been to Haiti (yet), I was apprehensive about writing this post. What would I know about Haiti? What I know is that Haiti has birthed one of the most resilient groups of people on the planet. The spotlight shines bright on us who have resilience running through our veins, strength built in our bones and the future of Haiti in our sights. What are we doing? If Haitians are the roses that grew out of concrete, where are the bouquets?
We need to start rolling our sleeves and doing the work because the last time we got help from moun deyo yo , we lost 9,000+ lives. This is not to negate the great things people have done for Haiti: earlier this year actor Leonardo DiCaprio helped to raise 7 million dollars for Haiti, Karruche Tran and Quincy Brown paid a visit to Haiti with Smile Train, to help people living with cleft lip who are unable to pay for medical expenses, and Marshawn Lynch spent his retirement time in Haiti along with several other NFL players to help rebuild an elementary school, host a mobile medical clinic and a football camp through Feed The Children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. These are all great deeds, but its more about representation.
WHY REPRESENTATION MATTERS
If you're a first-generation Haitian like me (both parents were born in Haiti but you were not), you know that we owe it to Haiti to pay homage to those who came before us and those to come. Our parents brought us here pou'n ka profite na peyi etrange sa (so we can move ahead in this strange land). It's one thing to wear the flag, go to the parade, and enjoy the culture but its time for us to give back. I'm not just talking to you, I'm talking to myself. Haiti has many problems but we have many solutions. Haiti is more resourceful than we think. I understand why our parents pushed us to be lawyers, doctors, nurses, and engineers. While it might look like its for them to boast to all the people they know, it's for Haiti. We need to use our gifts to help Ayiti. It's time we educate Haitians for Haiti. As Haitians, we cannot turn our backs our Ayiti Cherie.
We stand with our hard earned titles on behalf of every katye and lakou , and every natural-born hustler who wakes up at the crack of dawn and travels downhill to sell whatever they can to make a life for themselves. It's up to us to show Haitians what they're sacrifices have done for us. Which means we need to go back. Use what we've obtained here, and bring it there.
WHERE DO I START?
It's hard to know what's going on without staying well connected. If you're waiting for media outlets to share immediate news about Haiti, you'll be waiting forever. France agreed to cancel Haiti's debt since last year, and this news is now getting to me! I heard about the dismissal of Haiti's lawsuit with the U.N on SnapChat! I've got some homework to do! If listening to Radio Soliel isn't your flavor, do some reading! Haitian Newspapers are available at several bodegas, as well as small Haitian-owned businesses. Joining Haitian student-body groups in your school are great ways to network with other Haitians and remain knowledgeable on current events and issues.
If you're looking for something on a more professional level, there are organizations you can become a member of to unite with other Haitian professionals and come together to make a difference. One of these organizations are The Haitian Round Table.
The Haitian Round Table is "an organization comprised of Haitian-American professionals who are committed to civic engagement as well as philanthropic endeavors benefiting Haiti, Haitian organizations and causes." Mona Scott Young, Jeff Gardere and Nadege Fleurimond are among the many members of the HRT who's notable work have earned them a seat at the Haitian Round Table. Since being founded in 2008, they've hosted over 20 events that promote Haiti as a positive, productive brand.
Another great way to give back is joining credible organizations that host mission trips to help build schools, churches, and homes. A great example of this is my good friend Nadjeda, who's birthplace is Haiti and she's ready to go back home to lend a helping hand. After graduating from NYU with a Masters Degree in Industrial Psychology, shes joined forces with Foundation for Peace and together will coordinate a Vacation Bible School/Children’s Rally where they will teach children about the dangers of physical and sexual abuse. They will also be providing a Mobile Eye Care Clinic, as well as distributing Care Packages & Food to remote communities in most need.
If you cant invest your time, invest your dollars to support people like Nadjeda who are ready and able to make a difference, but just need a little support to get there. To help Nadjeda get to Haiti, you can make a donation here.
The making of the first Haitian flag was quite simple. Jean-Jacques Dessalines tore apart the French flag keeping the blue and red, leaving the white center behind because it was believed that "Dessalines pa vle wè blan", meaning Dessalines doesnt want to see white in Haiti. Dessalines declared the blue to represent the black Haitians, and the red to represent the mulatto Haitians that should never again be separated.
Lets not wait on the white to be removed in order bring us together (figuratively speaking). Let us do as Dessalines did, and remove the middle man from the Haitians back home and the rest of us who's love for Haiti is spread out around the world..
nou led, nou la, nou kapab.
we're ugly, we're here, we can.
If you are looking to support charities working for Haiti, you can visit: