“5 Years Later!” – This is My Haiti: Stanley Liste, Operations Officer
Jennifer Lang, Program Manager
Walking with Stanley through a crowd of people in downtown Les Cayes is a humbling promenade of introductions. Like a politician, Hope for Haiti’s Operation Officer bumps fists and greets with “Koman ou ye?” (How are you?) in Haitian Creole to preschoolers and grandparents alike.
The fluent speaker of six languages thoughtfully shrugs at the goal of learning Chinese next. His father was a linguist, speaking 12 languages which he picked up as an international boat captain. “I have to speak more languages than he did, so I’ll keep reading books and learning until I know at least 13!” As Hope for Haiti’s longest tenured employee, Stanley joined the team after serving as a translator for former Country Director Mike Stewart. “When I started, I was asked to help mostly with translation and construction. I helped build the Infirmary. Since I joined when we were much smaller, I got to take on more responsibility. I got to learn, especially about construction. And then I got to teach others.”
He inherited more than his language skills from his family. “I feel like working with Hope for Haiti I get to help the Haitian people, the country of my parents. It’s the best way I can give to this community. I get to use all my strengths.” Stanley dreamed of becoming a pediatrician growing up. His response to healthcare crises and emergencies has defined much of his service. “I remember working with cancer patient Jean Joseph. We had to literally carry him into the doctors’ offices because the tumors in his legs were so bad.” Talking about another Robert E. Hord patient, Kidney Clerger, “her mom was so grateful to Hope for Haiti. She said we were the little girl’s angels” for providing the life-changing surgery. When asked about the motivation of his tireless efforts, he states that “One day, I could be in the same situation as any of the people I’ve helped.”
After 5 years on the job, the 24-year old displays an unmatched maturity and productivity. He contains much of the institution’s memory, practiced in diplomacy to cut through bureaucratic red tape and solve problems. There is no typical day in the life of an Operations Officer. Stanley has lead rural children in song and dance, welded on our Clinic’s weather-damaged awning, coordinated shipments with boxes larger than a person, and responded to cholera spread by flooding. The most surprising part of a day, says Stanley, “is when everything on the job is all messed up, and I need to get it all back to normal.” In his off-time, he likes to go to the gym and go to the library. “I’m thinking about studying international law next.”
As he grows within Hope for Haiti and beyond, new challenges will surely arise. “When I’m old, I’d like to put all my experiences into a book and use it to talk to kids. I’d tell them about my experiences helping people, really just explain the story of everything I’ve done.” Stanley’s stories can be both heart-warming and harrowing. There’s the 4-year-old girl he stayed with in Port au Prince after her family was killed in the structural collapses of the 2010 earthquake, waiting until her uncle could come find her. He dubbed Mike his big brother, an addition to his 7 siblings by blood. “The sad stories can show others how helping people is good. But my one word to describe Haiti is ‘lucky.’ It’s a country that’s had much harm, but it still has so many supporters.”