Traveling around the world, getting to know other cultures, and learning the traditions of people living in a completely different environment, are some of the best ways to practice empathy and learn gratitude, understanding, and patience through it.
We can do this by just asking how others live, how they spend their time, or, and now we can get to it, how they celebrate some holidays in other places, like Haiti. Before we tell you about the Christmas Event, let me tell you about the holiday season in Haiti.
The spirit of Christmas prevailed here in Ouanaminthe, Haiti too. Most answers described how family and friends get together and visit each other from around the country and celebrate the end of the year, welcoming the new year with positive vibes, reconciling old disagreements, and enjoying the 24, yes Christmas is celebrated one day before, in harmony with each other.
Kids run and play in every corner of the neighborhood, lighting fireworks and staring at the few Christmas trees inside some houses "not all families can get hold of a Christmas tree," one interviewed said to us, showing a first glance of the situation they live in. But it doesn't matter, they enjoy their time drinking Fanta or Rhum Barbancourt for the adults, and some families exchange gifts.
Of course, the food is an essential part of the holiday. In Haiti, you'll always find "Pwa Kongo for sure," as Cassagne, an interviewee, told us, "which is a type of bean that is harvested mostly during the end of the year, and most Haitians cook it like a puree and eat it with white rice: PWA congo translated in English as Pigeon Peas sauce.".
One of the most popular drinks is Kremas, an alcoholic drink with condensed milk and additional ingredients like coconut, passion fruit, etc.
Many of the answers we got from the interviewed girls were a shock to me too; one specific answer that got to me was from Olivier, a 17 years old girl from Port-au Prince, about the atmosphere of Christmas in Haiti:
"The atmosphere in this period is always hectic because everyone is happy and this period is a new year… But, seeing the country's economic situation, it is challenging to say that Christmas is possible. The country is in shock; then there is the affair of raging insecurity. The people live in an uncertain tomorrow."
Stories and comments like this bring us back to earth and teach us how even the simple things, like Christmas, are so different and give us so much to be thankful for when we get to know about it through the words of people like these Haitian girls.
As I haven't been there, but, just from their voices, I got that Christmas in Haiti is a beautiful holiday full of joy, fantastic food, great time with family and friends, and I loved the description of one girl:
"It is always a warm atmosphere even if people do not have the means to make grandiose, but they feel happier and joyful to have spent a whole year at work; they take advantage of being entertained."
Empowering culture! Hope prevails always. Womenful Voice experienced an incredible moment with the city of Ouanaminthe on December 23rd, 2021; this is the summary of the event.
Womenful Voice provided 300 gifts to Haitian women and girls in Ouanaminthe, most of whom came from remote areas. It started at 2 pm, and the people were late, but it didn't stop the children from having fun and enjoying a typical Christmas Day. The activities were more dynamic! The educational part was the first phase of the day's activities, and it was focused on asking questions about powerful women in the world, especially Haitian women, for gifts. The second part was artistic, where children would dance, say a joke, and recite a poem for a gift. The last part of the event focused on community building, where everyone ate together and received a gift.
Despite the difficult situation that the country lives in, Haitians take the best things from this holiday, shaping it in their way, with what was given to them. And because of this, I am amazed.