Giving peace a face in Haiti:
Annalisa shares her story in the United States as a witness during the Annual Campaign
My time with Annalisa was especially meaningful, not only because I found a new friend but also because I gained a new appreciation for my colleagues in Haiti and how they personify peace on this Caribbean island. Getting to know Annalisa, her daily routine, and her relationship with her coworkers, I could envision this beautiful yet struggling island: a place where people have to cross trash-filled streets and are regularly threatened by gang violence, and also a land with so much potential, where individuals still get up every day, dress with dignity, and fight to turn their lives around and, on occasion, dance to the beat of the drum, celebrating the gift of life.
I now see on a different level how AVSI staff can transform a space into a place of hope and human dignity, no matter the context. This is done for the beneficiaries and the local staff residing in our target communities. In Haiti, these staff are empowered to coordinate street cleanings, educational activities for children, and focus groups to determine unaddressed needs. They accompany their communities physically with immediate relief and emotionally, reminding their neighbors that someone does care.
Annalisa described AVSI’s mission in Haiti through this little story:
The fundraising events Annalisa and I participated in were also a fantastic opportunity to meet volunteers and their communities around the US and listen to what moved them. One of our volunteers told me: “When I heard about the conflict in the Middle East, I felt tired. We were still so worried for Ukraine, and yet again, the news of a new war filled the newspapers. I felt so hopeless. However, when you sent me AVSI’s Annual Campaign flyer, and I read the title, it gave me hope because I realized that people are working for peace. I, too, can do something to bring peace to the world by getting involved with AVSI and doing something as little as donating. That’s why I decided to invite you to Chicago, to get to know you and better understand what you do.” Her words, in addition to the care of the family that hosted us in Chicago, the deep attention and many questions of the audience at the end of our presentation, and the joy of the children selling crafts to raise donations reminded me that we all, in different ways, can honestly give peace a face.