As a kid, I spent a lot of time in Haiti. The first time I ever went there I was a month old. I have a picture of me as a baby on the wooden floor, which used to be the movie room. I have so many pictures from when I went to Haiti, but my first memories there was after my mother left in Panama and my father sent me to Haiti while he dealt with custody.
I remember being scared, not knowing exactly why I was in Haiti and my father was not. I quickly felt very safe because of Jean. He is the manager of my hotel, but that was before my home was a hotel. He is family. When I was around 6, my father decided to make our home until a hotel and he named it after me to make me happy and forget that my mother abandoned my father and me.
My father never worried about me. He gave me a lot of freedom, I walked and rode my bike around Jacmel (the town) without a care in the world and nothing ever happened to me. So many people are scared of going to Haiti, which I will never understand because it is such a beautiful country with amazing people in it. The people who work at my home are part of my family. I have known them almost my whole life and they have seen grow up.
I was avoiding Haiti for a ridiculous reason for five years and I decided that had to stop. It is my home. Being back there put my life into perspective and I know what I want to do with my future once I get my masters in teaching.
I moved to France in January and I still want to live my life here, but I want to work between Paris and Jacmel. My father says it seems like I am going back to the places where I grew up. It is true, I am doing that, but I never felt like I fit in the US. I always felt like something was missing and my missing pieces were Haiti and France. France is where my life started, where I took my first breath of air, but Haiti was where I learned how to read and where my first memories are because everything before my mother, I can’t remember.
Walking through Jacmel, all the amazing childhood memories came back and I realized I want to change children’s lives here. In this country. In this town. The town that brought me so much happiness and nurtured me. I can make a bigger difference for children with disabilities than in France. I want to live between Haiti and France. I want to teach children and also, help my hotel grow. It has my name and I want to make sure my name is treasured as a hotel.
A few months ago, I called my father in the middle of the night because I had a realization that I want to start my own school in Jacmel and going back, it has now become a real goal. I will have to start slowly, working for a school already established and slowly start getting grants and funding to build my own school to change children’s lives in Haiti to give them a real shot at a future in such a developing country where it is a struggle to make something out of yourself.