Q & A
For people in the workforce, what is a typical day like? Are regular hours kept, or are schedules different? What is the societal view of productivity as a "virtue" there (since we work ourselves to death in the US)? - Nick Johnson
Dear Nick, Thank you for your question. Can I assume that you’re writing it from your cubicle? For people in professional positions the work day seems to be much the same as ours, though it starts and ends earlier because of the heat in the late afternoon. Doctors, nurses, and teachers, while paid considerably less than their U.S. counterparts, get dressed up and go to work just like they do in the States. The biggest difference is that there are few factories, businesses, or large retail establishments to provide work for those who do not have a specialized education. Education level seems to be the biggest delineation in the Haitian workforce. People in professional positions feel a responsibility to provide jobs (which sometimes provide housing and meals) to people in need of jobs. The gatekeeper who rolls open the gate for us when the SUV beeps earns a small amount, and the ladies who cook our meals earn more when we’re here and receive room and board along with their salary. Even these jobs do not provide nearly enough work opportunities; most of the people in the streets have no work because there are no jobs available. Having a job is a source of pride and identity as much for the gatekeeper as for the nurse. People in Haiti define themselves by what we do just like we do in the States. The spirit to go out and do a job, any job is very strong. We heard the story of a man from a mountain village who came to Croix de Bouquets with his family. He was encouraged to go look for a job, he was told to find men pushing wheelbarrows and ask them if he could push a wheelbarrow too.