Pimps, Whores and Missionaries : The Charity Industrial Complex in Haiti and Beyond
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Through the study of the role of history, culture, and religion, the author attempted to find out about the relationship that exists between United States missionaries and Haitians. Her study focused on how forms of knowledge characterized through power differentials have misrepresented Haiti's history and culture. This misrepresentation greatly influences how missionaries perceive Haitians and the methods through which they choose to approach work in Haiti. Five research questions examine the reasons for why United States missionaries go to Haiti: 1) Does Haiti's history and culture inform the work that missionaries do in Haiti? 2) What are the ways in which North American missionaries approach work in Haiti? 3) Is there an association between the missionaries' accumulation of knowledge and preconceived notions of Haiti that inform the purpose(s) of their mission? 4) Is the perception and reaction of the work done by missionaries shared by Haitians and missionaries alike? 5) What kind of relationship exists between missionaries and Haitians? The author interviewed 16 US missionaries and 10 Haitians during her summer internship. The author developed a linguistic coding system for each interview population. The author concludes that the missionaries' approach to working in Haiti should not just be about "doing and feeling good,” they should not go to Haiti as self-appointed helpers. If a mission trip in Haiti is to improve the conditions of Haitians, then the determinants of success should be dictated by the Haiti an people. In fact, an effective project aimed at restoring a community should start with a needs based assessment; one in which the problems of the host country is identified from the people within it, and not foreigners. Additionally, Haitians should be given the chance to build their own country. It is my belief that missionaries can work with Haitians without being directly present in Haiti. The resources spent on plane tickets, securing accommodation, vaccines, and other miscellaneous expenses could be easily invested in a trusted organization that will use the money effectively.