Logan Kingsland - From Greenville to Haiti
Hello! My name is Logan Kingsland, a graduate of Indian Valley Academy. I was lucky enough to be a part of the sophomore class that got the chance to go to Haiti for two weeks and spend some time working with a non-profit organization known as KIDMob. As someone who rarely ventures beyond the county borders, I was extremely excited and a little bit nervous when I learned I would be traveling to a foreign country of which I knew almost nothing about. In retrospect, I think the lack of preconceptions allowed me to get the most I possibly could from the experience. After only a few days in the city of Port Au Prince, I gained newfound gratitude and respect for so many of the things I take for granted here in the States, things I see as basic essentials, like running water, electricity, an abundance of food and drink. So many of the people living in Haiti have almost none of these.
Being in Haiti and mingling with the people there also gave a face to the billions of people around the world. Spending your entire life in a small town like Greenville California, and never leaving the country makes it easy to see the rest of the world almost as a fantasy. You've never seen these far away places in real life, or talked to the people that live there. All you know about the outside world is what you see on television or the internet. They just don't seem as real as your immediate surroundings. So when you hear of terrible things happening around the world, like an earthquake in Haiti, or a terrorist attack in France etc. etc. it's easier to dismiss them, and harder to empathize with the people suffering there. Seeing the devastation in Haiti from the earthquake in 2010, and seeing the people that have to live there and pick up the pieces of their lives, I was able to visualize the billions of people around the world, who's lives are just as important and precious as mine. It made it easy to see that we're all really the same, we all suffer (albeit, some more than others) and we need to take care of one another. While I had no doubt that there were real people all around the world, the experience just made the idea much more vivid and intimate.
Even though these observations seemed very profound to me, I think the thing that stuck with me the most from my time in Haiti was the perseverance of the human spirit and the will to live and thrive in the face of such disparity. There is an unimaginable amount of poverty and inequality present in Haiti, and a complete lack of infrastructure needed to accommodate basic living standards. Everywhere in Haiti there are houses in shambles, some are just piles of rubble, garbage fills the streets, and there are massive piles of it all over the place. The roads are in terrible disrepair and overcrowded. There are people living in the streets in droves. Sick, elderly and wounded lie unattended in every nook and cranny of the urban areas. And despite all this, the people there exhibit such amazing kindness and generosity. One might think that someone in their situation would resent a person like me, with all of my privilege, wealth and opportunity. But the people there simply welcomed me as guest, and treated me with respect and kindness. Their demeanor did not at all reflect their surroundings. The fact that these people can put on a heartwarming smile in the midst of such an environment is inspiring. I honestly could not imagine living in the conditions they brave every day. And yet these people live on, they laugh and smile and kiss their loved ones, and in those moments, it almost seems like everything is alright. Perhaps that's how they make it, by constantly reminding themselves they are with the people they love and are alive and well. They hold on tightly to what good they have in their lives. If these people can find happiness and a will to live despite everything they have going against them, I believe I can find hope in any situation, no matter how dire it may seem. I am sincerely grateful for the experience and the lessons the people there taught me.