This month’s review has an interesting title: Travesty in Haiti: A True Account of Christian Missions, Orphanages, Food Aid, Fraud, and Drug Trafficking by Timothy T. Schwartz. Sure gives away the author’s true feelings from the start, but here’s our thoughts about the book.
The book takes the first person perspective of an anthropologist who spent 10+ years in Haiti. The title word says it all – travesty. The author goes through various spheres in Haitian humanitarian aid, including food aid, orphanages, medical care, and schools. He also touches on voodoo, the police and justice system, poverty in rural Haiti, and finally on drug trafficking. The author walks away with a cynical and disillusioned perspective after all of his research – for good reason after all the travesty he witnessed.
As an organization in the business of helping the poorest of the poor in Haiti, this book resonated as a call to examine everything Espwa does. We are founded on the basis of relationships and I think the first step in avoiding some of the travesty is partnering with trustworthy, Christian individuals who share our same vision for poverty alleviation. It would be easy to just pack up shop and say that Haiti is not worth the effort – like the main thrust of this book suggests – but we’re in it for real change, not to pat ourselves on the back. Evaluating ourselves regularly and asking the tough questions are the first steps in overcoming the cynical perspective.
For those who’ve never been to Haiti, this is a good primer to some of the things we’re dealing with down there. It’s taken us many years and much reflection to start overcoming the brokenness wrought by both Haiti itself and foreign aid, but we still consider it a worthy pursuit. If you read this one, do it with a grain of salt and know that we are all broken apart from Jesus.
Disclaimer: there is a bit of language toward the end of the book, but it is more illustrative of the situation rather than excessive.