My Haiti Story - Greg Ross
“I would love to visit America, but I don’t want to live there. There are a lot of difficulties here, but Haiti is my home. I want to help fix the problems; I want to be part of the solution. ECM is giving me an opportunity to do that.”
Her simple sentiments ring in my ears weeks after my trip. Those words, offered by one of ECM’s national staff members, have staying power because they illustrate a couple of profound truths and summarize the essence of my Haiti experience. Let me explain. At the time of our conversation, we were sitting under an umbrella on a neatly groomed beach watching the sunset shimmer across the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. It was our last day in the country. During the previous few days, our team had met with several challenges. As a result, I was hot, tired, and emotionally depleted; I felt a bit overwhelmed, and I was anxious to head home. ECM graciously concluded our trip at this beautiful resort so that the team could debrief and recharge. So, we found ourselves relaxing in lounge chairs, taking in the sea and the sunset, while cordially chatting about our experiences. Honestly, I was exhausted and lost in a fog of thought. I struggled to remain present in the conversation as I felt a growing discontent churning inside me. I was ready to get back to the comforts home, but I could not ignore the unmistakable pull I felt toward the beautiful people and culture of Haiti as well as the strategic work of ECM. I felt unsure about how to reconcile my ever-growing awareness of the needs that surrounded me with my concern for my own well-being. I felt deeply conflicted and overwhelmed. It was amidst those circumstances that my new friend provided her insight. At that moment, I realized that there were some profound truths that I needed to unpack further.
Over the last few weeks, I have taken time to reflect on my trip and the previously mentioned conversation, and I extracted two takeaways. First, I am reminded that hard work is most manageable when I put my role in its proper perspective. During my week-long trip, I became acutely aware of the daunting tasks in front of ECM and the people of Haiti. There is so much work to do. That evening on the beach, I was overwhelmed by feelings of inadequacy and futility for one simple reason; I felt as though I was one individual surrounded by a vast sea of needs. I had a skewed perspective. I needed to be reminded that God is simply asking me to make my contribution. While I have something to offer, I am not the solution to any of the world’s big problems. The acknowledgment that I merely play a role in God’s plan for Haiti provides me with the proper perspective. God is present with me in my work, and his plan includes the effort, skills, passions, and resources of other people. I am never alone in my work. That truth infuses me with courage and makes the work feel manageable. With that perspective, I can confidently take my position and play my part.
That thought leads to my second takeaway; hard work is most meaningful when it is performed alongside a caring community. I needed a fresh perspective regarding my role on the team, but I needed to first acknowledge and accept the invitation to join the team. God designed us for community. A sense of belonging (community) is essential to my development, in part, because it adds definition to my life’s purpose. Purpose gives shape to my passion and perspective. When I work alongside family, not only am I reminded that I am part of a team effort, but I also experience a deeper level of motivation and a greater measure of satisfaction in my work. Life is simply more meaningful when my service benefits people that I care about. I am willing to give my best when I am motivated by love. During my time in Haiti, I was invited into the ECM family, but I had to choose whether or not I would acknowledge and accept that invitation. I chose to join the growing community. As I develop relationships with my brothers and sisters, I am becoming more invested in the mission because I know that my time and resources are serving people that I care about. That knowledge makes the work feel truly meaningful.
My last night in Haiti, as I sat on the beach casually chatting with my new friend, I was reminded of those truths. Our conversation did not alter the circumstances; there is still a lot of hard work to do. However, my perspective changed. My friend demonstrated that, while the work is hard and the situation feels daunting, it is possible to engage the challenges with optimism and resolve. Her example illustrates the ways that purpose and connectedness work together to renew hope and bolster courage in the face of difficult situations. By sharing her perspective, she helped me arrive at a renewed sense of engagement and commitment. Now, as a part of the ECM family, I can confidently determine my role in the work that needs to be done.
Greg is the Program Coordinator for the Undergraduate Business department at Roberts Wesleyan College. Through his involvement with the Roberts Enactus team, Greg is involved in coaching young business leaders as they use their entrepreneurial knowledge, skills, and capacities to develop businesses and communities in socially responsible ways. Greg traveled with ECM to Haiti in May of 2019 as part of an exploratory trip for the Roberts Enactus team.
Consider Joining us in Haiti!
We have learned that saying "Yes" can change your life. Spend your days serving in local villages across Haiti and your evenings with a team reflecting on what your next steps may be. Serve alongside a team and experience what it means to elevate those around you through giving. For a full listing of 2019 trips, click the button below.