Updated: Apr 9
H.O.P.E. has energized three generations of the Shields family to commit to Borgne. For each of us the call feels a little different, but each of us believes in HOPE and feels called to partnership with Borgne.
For Mike: interconnectedness. Mike Shields is a practicing Buddhist and has imprinted on the family a belief that all sentient beings are connected; we breathe the same air, so to speak. Thus, it is only by the accident of our birth that the Shields family was born in the USA and our friends and mentors live in a nation called Haiti. What draws us near one another is far more powerful than what separates us, and we have a shared obligation to end suffering where and when we can. In this work, we have love and compassion to share.
For Shields: global justice. I am a teacher, and I have devoted my career to dismantling the colonial habits of the classroom. I travel with students to Haiti and Rwanda regularly to provide an experiential and empowering classroom experience in which we (students and I alike) can learn from experts on the ground. We know the "stories" (for example, Haiti is the poorest nation in the western hemisphere), but we seek a multiplicity of counterstories (for example, committed experts from Borgne can rethink the way community health works). In so listening, we defeat the pessimism born of singular narratives driven by capitalism, charity, and thin efforts to engage. In Borgne, the spirit of global citizenship comes to life, and the next generation learns to "see" differently, to listen more acutely, and to "walk with" rather than away from or on top of people outside of our local, daily circles.
For Lili: a sense of place. Lili is an artist and a writer who focuses in her work on place. She seeks to reveal in her work the subjective and objective elements of a place and to show what makes it unique and special. For her, Borgne illustrates a complex mix of humanity, beauty, and the perils of centralization. Lili was a child when she made her first trip to Borgne, and even then, she was not drawn as so many are initially to playing with children; she was drawn to how people revealed themselves in the style and colors of their homes. For her, Borgne is about stories and colors, light and the intersection of people, earth, and design.
This photo is taken at The Citadelle, which Haitians built as a bulwark against invasions from the French in the 18th century (read more about the meaning of this incredible fortress in Michel-Rolph Trouillot's text, Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History). Today, H.O.P.E. seeks to partner with the community of Borgne as a bulwark against the vagaries of globalization and the people who continue to protect markets and power over people.
How grateful each of us is for the connection to Borgne and the chance to be ourselves in this shared work.