Credit: Natalie Holly

Are you a Haitian-American who has thought about moving to Haiti? Get your head on straight, and take these tips from native New Yorker and fledging filmmaker Natalie Holly who recently made the move to Haiti.

I’ve met Haitians from the diaspora who never visited Haiti prior to moving and didn’t speak any Kreyol or French, yet they still managed to make the move and have made the necessary adjustments.”

  1. Get a gig. “I personally don’t recommend coming without having a job or a temporary situation planned out ahead of time. Either way, it will be necessary to have a little savings together for unforeseen expenses.”
  2. Figure out how you’re going to get around. “If you don’t have a car, you will have to degaje yourself someway somehow. I brought a helmet from the U.S., and stuck to a handful of motorcycle taxi drivers to get around. I did what I had to do, and proceeded with caution. I don’t necessarily advise everyone to do that, but in my case, it was necessary. Now I have a diverse array of drivers and other transportation options at different price points, which I can rely on in both Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haitian.”
  3. Network before the move. “There are expat blogs that can help, Facebook and other social media sites where you can connect with people who can help you transition, but, you must be selective about it. Your matant, who never leaves her neighborhood and only goes to a handful of places, cannot fairly assess what that situation will be like. Neither can your parents, who left Haiti 30 years ago.”
  4. Make friends—lots of them, and as soon as possible. “Whether its through family, friends, co-workers, a church, having community will help give you the support you will need to get through the tough times. And if you are serious, there will be tough times. You will get frustrated. It’s never easy. But nothing worth having ever is.”
  5. Make your mindset over. “I think its important for women moving here to keep in mind that all too often, our culture tends to encourage misogyny. Women have to work very hard to be respected, in spite of an environment that far too often encourages bad behavior from men in the face of complicity by other women.”

Haiti still has a long way to go. I had known this prior to moving, but never felt so deeply, how my gender plays a role in my decisions, experiences and interactions, until I moved here.”

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