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Despite unrest, Haitians still hopeful

National flags on display for Haiti's annual flag day. (Naïka Jean/YJI)

Port-au-Prince, HAITI – With the turmoil Haitians are facing, it didn’t seem like a lot of national pride would emerge for our annual flag day.

But on May 18, the 221st anniversary of the country’s flag, Haitians showed they still have spirit and hope.

On flag day, Haitians generally celebrate with all kinds of activities from parades and parties to volunteering activities like planting trees, and educational seminars.

Despite the socio-political and economic crisis in Haiti, Haitians didn’t forget to commemorate this day as much as they could.

As I went to a zone called Sarazin to plant some trees with my Rotaract Club, I saw a few flags displayed in cars, taxis and motorcycles – something I didn’t expect this year.

A school in the same area was super lively with students gathered to celebrate and I saw a street decorated in blue and red, not something super fancy, but still meaningful.

Spending their money on flags and decorations while they literally could have greater priorities is a choice that somehow shows the attachment of Haitians to Haiti and their culture, despite everything.

This sentiment of attachment is present even among Haitians who left the country because of its hardships.

In Miami, Florida, the Haitian Compas Festival on Saturday reunited thousands of the Haitian diaspora wearing outfits or waving handkerchiefs in the colors of the Haitian flag.

These colors symbolize union between Black and bi-racial people, the two  main social groups after our independence.

Some still argue that the flag should be red and black as it once turned, to symbolize freedom or death. But this is another debate.

My friend Lory Pierre, a Haitian teen living abroad, told me that May 18th remains a special day to her because it’s what defines us as a nation.

Within members of my Rotaract Club, many expressed the idea that things will soon get better in our country. We had been able to go to Sarazin, a place we might not have been to go just months ago.

But are we on our way to becoming the Haiti that we were before the gangs spread? Nobody can be sure.

What we know for sure, though, is Haitians haven’t lost hope.

Naïka Jean is a Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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