Seventeen years ago on my first day of college orientation in Norton, Massachusetts, I met Nathalie. Nathalie was beautiful, sweet and as lost as I was. She being from Haiti and myself from California, we immediately held on to one another for dear life. For four years we tried to navigate the culture of a small New England college but pretty much created our own island like crazy fish out of water. Because of Nathalie and my two other closest friends from El Salvador and Nicaragua, my life opened up completely.My first visit to Haiti was our sophomore year Spring break. The second visit was for Nathalie’s wedding right after college and the third visit, to meet Gianni, Nath’s first son. Twelve years later after the birth of her second son Lucas, a divorce, the start of a business, closing of a business, meeting a new man, starting a new company, earthquake, floods and hurricanes, I returned to Haiti to see Nathalie’s courage, positivity, commitment to her country, her family and herself stronger than ever. Nathalie has the ability to see the beauty and potential in a person, just as she can see of her own country amongst the chaos and rubble.
I admire and love Nathalie. Her devotion to her country, family and our friendship is a gift. I realized on this trip that we are each others’ mirror. We can not lie but at the same time, have allowed each other to see as much as we can handle at the time. There is such a delicate balance in a friendship between both compassion with restraint and knowing when to say what needs to be said. Gratefully, Nathalie and I seem to have that balance. Below are some snapshots from my ten days in Haiti. I was honored to be the guest of a friend who is nurturing her countries’ growth and as a tourist on a mission to share Haiti as a destination. Nathalie not only believes in Haiti’s potential but is within the hotbed of making much needed growth happen. Whether it is with new business coming into the country, conferences on waste management, publishing a photography book or working with young women at the YWCA as the President, Nathalie is surrounded by a circle of women filled with strength, creativity, honesty, intelligence, wild inner and yes, outer beauty. These women left the greatest impression on me within my short visit. I sense and hope that they will be running the Haitian throne shortly. above: three generations of Nathalie
above: the women behind YWCA Haiti above: young women performing a skit at the YWCA
above: Nathalie at her book launch BUY BOOK HERE