Even though thousands upon thousands of words have been written this year about Haiti’s current situation and the factors causing it, I still find myself at a loss for words when people ask me about Haiti. Recently, one word has felt like a simple, yet profound descriptor of Haiti: fragile.
Fragile means vulnerable. The situation is that Haiti is vulnerable, meaning it can change very quickly in either direction. In early September, we were reporting on a successful volunteer team who had come in August and hopeful to start planning more volunteer trips. We were making final preparations for a new school year to start. We took trips to the beach. In fact, we had a call with our board discussing our hopes and plans for their upcoming trip to Haiti. Four days after that call, the situation looked dramatically different: protesting had amped up and turned violent in Cap Haitian, fuel prices skyrocketed as scarcity deepened, and the situation felt much heavier in our area. It suddenly felt hard to picture a school year starting anytime soon, let alone hosting international visitors once again. The situation has no doubt worsened since then as the fuel shortage has deepened.
Fragile things can hold great value. Some of the most valuable works of art and natural wonders are incredibly fragile. Their fragility does not diminish their beauty or worth. Life itself is fragile, and yet it is one of the things we value most. Haiti is valuable to all of us, even if it is fragile. Haiti’s people have lessons, insights, wisdom and beauty that this world needs. Their voices matter and we are better off when we lean in to hear the ways they are hurting and the ways they are striving forward.
God works through fragile things. It’s actually His preference. The Bible is full of stories about flawed and fragile people whom He uses. COTP is full of stories when God uses fragile people or situations to His glory. Here are a few ways that we’ve seen God shine in this fragile situation:
- ICEP (our school) had great plans to improve our education as we start a new school year. The situation has already delayed the start of the school year, and still will not allow for in-person classes. However, our staff have continued to prepare and are kicking off the school year with distance learning, focussing on re-engaging students in learning while encouraging them to continue to dream and hope about their futures.
- All that was left to complete our most recent adoption was getting an exit letter from an office in PAP to Cap Haitian, and yet it seemed impossible as offices remained closed and the situation in PAP was unsafe. Yet our adoption team found a way and that child is now home with his family! It took great personal risks from our staff members, and a lot of ingenuity. We never ended up getting that original letter, but we were able to work with IBESR to still find a way for this child to be united with his family!
- As the fuel crisis deepens, our staff walks to get to work because they know it is important. At times they walk around roadblocks and through danger zones to do their jobs. Other times, they stay home because it isn’t safe to come into work. Some staff stay on our campus for a week or more at a time to limit risks and conserve fuel for travel. Sometimes their families sacrifice so that a parent or spouse can do the work at COTP. Sometimes our staff sacrifice and stretch to enable a fellow staff member to stay home with their family. In every instance, they reflect Christ as they sacrifice for the Kingdom work!
Facts about what is currently happening in Haiti…
There is still no judicial system or justice system in Haiti. Since the assassination of former President Jovenel Moise last year, Ariel Henry has been the acting Prime Minister.
Gangs have become immensely more powerful and took control of the sea port. This means they have not allowed anything to come in (containers full of food and supplies used for businesses and gas for the entire country to name a few) for almost a month now. This has understandably caused frustration for the population.
Kidnappings are still happening.
Frustration has turned into protests and barricades on the streets, limiting the ability to get from one place to another.
No gas in the country leads to deterioration. No gas means no transportation of people or goods, no water delivery, no internet/cellphone service, and no power. Culligan, one of Haiti’s largest water purification businesses, just closed last week because without fuel, they cannot purify or transport water.
Inflation has reached over 30%. Not only is gas around $30 US per gallon (if you are able to find it), but food has doubled or tripled in most areas. It is estimated that half of Haitians live on less than $1 per day so any kind of inflation has extreme consequences.
It was just announced last week that Cholera, an often fatal disease that is contracted when contaminated water has been consumed, is back in Haiti.
If you are interested in learning more about the complex situation happening in Haiti, as well as some suggested solutions, “Haiti at the Crossroads: Civil Society Responses for a Haitian-led Solution” is a great start. Last week, the US House Foreign Affairs Committee was able to sit down with Haitian witnesses and a former U.S. Ambassador to Haiti to discuss how Haiti has gotten to this point and what could be done to help. It’s on the longer side, but definitely worth the listen!
So how can you help?
Pray. We believe that prayer changes things and we are committed to praying for the people of Haiti each and every day.
We also ask that if you are able to give, that you would. Food has already become one of the most essential items that people in Haiti need right now. We also know that the amount of people in our community who will need assistance will increase in the days to come.