Little 14 year old me,
|14 year old me.|
Wow-- You had no idea about the world, no idea about third-world poverty, and absolutely no idea about the opportunities/ educational paths ahead of you. You really didn't plan on going to third world countries-- you wanted to be a famous figure skater, a dietitian, then a dietitian AND a clinical psychologist. You never really planned for all this... It was merely just a short-lived phase in your life.
I found this in your diary. I would like you to re-read this carefully...
March 20, 2003
"What is coming to this world! Diary, I want to make a difference in this world! I want to be remembered like Gandhi, like Martin Luther King JR, like Rosa Parks, and all those people that make a difference. I want to be like Mother Teresa. I want to help the poor!..I am going to go to poor countries and I am going to bring them food, water, and clothes. I am going to bring seeds and gardening supplies and teach them to make their own food. It's kind of like what Jesus said to do-help them so that they can eventually help themselves."..... "I want to be a role model. I want to change peoples' lives! Also, I want to be a disciple of Jesus!"
Your vision is quiet a big task for a young girl to accomplish. You have some big shoes to follow... some fine paths that have been paved. You may not be remembered like the great historical figures. Your thought process are intense. Infact, I am not exactly sure where you would come-up with such ideas-- like "I am going to bring seeds and gardening supplies and teach them to make their own food." You really have no idea... NO IDEA AT ALL about the problems in poor countries. You just know they need the basics for life; food, water, shelter, clothing, medical care, and education. You know nothing of the third-world problems and the histories of these countries. You know nothing of the people and their hardships. You just have a vision... a very intense vision.
Little 14 year old me, I just want to tell you: that thought you had--- don't lose it. Hold on tight to it. That thought wasn't yours. This vision for your life wasn't yours. It is all apart of a greater plan. If you are wise, you will listen. You will listen very carefully to the silent opportunities and signs that appear throughout your life. Don't lose focus...stay awake.. or they will slip away.
You will face many internal and external obstacles leading-up to these great duties. I am warning you that you will forget about this vision, and you will carry on with your life for 8 more years. You will want to give up on life. You will lose sight of the vision. You will face hardships and conflict. Consider them all a time for you to cultivate skills, to build confidence, and to prepare you for the great journey ahead.
Again, don't cease the opportunities that fall into their places; listen to your heart and seek wisdom that has been instructed to you by the Owner of this vision. For one day, your vision, though not in it's entirety, will come true.
24 year old me
|24 year old me-- a dietitian and nutrition advocate in Haiti|
|The kids at the orphanage I volunteer at in Haiti|
|Tree Farms in Haiti|
|Markets in Haiti|
|The markets are a place of community. A place where people not only come to sell their produce, but come to socialize and to connect. I love market days in our community... it's a chance for me to see the locals.|
Postlude: Today, a diary entry I wrote at age 14 came full-circle for me. As I sit here in Haiti uncovering all this information about the current Food Politics in the country, I find myself being astonished by this circle and the vision I had as a young-teen. At 14 years old, I had this "crazy" idea that has turned-out to be fairly accurate. It all comes back to the statement of bringing seeds and gardening supplies. I am learning that a lot of poverty, malnutrition, and health problems have stemmed from the lack of agricultural support. People have fled the country-side---giving up on their farming due to failed crops, intense labor, and poor income when they are able to produce adequate supply of produce/ grain crops for the markets. People have fled to the cities inorder to find job opportunities; many people selling imported foods (which are cheaper or perceived to be cheaper), trying to make business selling used clothing/electronics, or opening different shop services. However, the increased demand of people and jobs in small confide areas has further led to a multitude of problems: increased crime, an exponentially high unemployment rate (further exacerbating poverty/malnutrition/disease), and ease for disease/infection to transmit to the masses of people (further exacerbating poverty/malnutrition/disease). Ultimately, farmers become poorer because they have to compete with the imported goods, as well as the psychosocial patterns/ thought process associated with food and food behaviors. The solutions to the problem: education about the importance of a plant-based diet and create jobs in agriculture. Provide tools for successfully growing native foods, as well as foods that grow well with the soil and the climate in Haiti. Create a supply and demand for the plant-based foods, which would create less dependence on imported goods (which ultimately support the producers from the countries they have come from) and increase job opportunities/ reducing poverty. Not only would the agriculture create jobs (farmers, sellers, and people who produce nutritious foods crops), but it would further reduce the rates of the systemic effects of poverty, transmitted diseases, and malnutrition. For more information about the current agricultural problems I am learning about in Haiti, see the links below.
The 14 year old me had the answers--- give people the tools, help them to plant seeds/ grow gardens, and ultimately, help them to better help themselves.
A few articles for reading:Key issues on Agriculture in Haiti- an introduction: http://www.haitisupportgroup.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=435%3Aagriculture-in-haiti-an-introduction&catid=101%3Aagriculture&Itemid=266
Haitian Farmers call on US to stop subsidizing its own (April 12, 2012):
With Cheap Food Imports, Haiti can't Feed Itself (March 20, 2010): http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/20/with-cheap-food-imports-h_n_507228.html
Haiti (December 24, 2012):