Date: November 15, 2019
Haiti (MNN) – In the cacophony of headlines shouting for attention, there’s noise about U.S. impeachment hearings, detail about U.S. impeachment proceedings, timelines leading up to U.S. impeachment hearings, Gaza ceasefire, and protests in Hong Kong, Iraq, Lebanon, Bolivia, and Chile.
Amid the clamor, the desperation of Haiti goes unnoticed, unremarked. It begs the question of why one of the biggest humanitarian crises in the Northern Hemisphere barely makes a blip on the global radar. It could be because the discontent has been ongoing. It could be because very few answers pose a lasting solution to the grinding poverty of the Caribbean island nation.
On the front lines
Fed up with corruption, inequality, and broken promises, angry Haitians want an accounting from President Jovenal Moise. The problem is the long-term impact of these manifestations. For Haiti With Love’s Eva Dehart recently shared a notice on their ministry Facebook page from Love A Child, Inc., a ministry in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
It read in part:
With a sad heart, the news is not good. They tell me that the Amerijet building at the airport has been set on fire. This is happening right now. People are shooting up and down the airport road, among other areas, and possibly could still be shooting. In Croixs-des-Bouquets, gangs are on top of buildings shooting at cars as they travel by and others are throwing rocks at people and vehicles. In other areas there are roadblocks, burning tires, and the list goes on… With all of the rumors, I’m not sure what’s true and what is not. Very important: Croixs-des-Bouquets is very dangerous at the main crossroads. I would advise no one to come to Haiti unless it’s mission-critical.
Impact on the North
For Haiti With Love operates out of Cap Haitien, about 155 miles north of the capital city. Usually, Port-au-Prince’s disturbances don’t reach out as far as the North. However, DeHart explains, “This past week is the first time that Cap Haitien hasn’t had riots every day. For some reason, they’ve gotten more civil about it. They don’t start them until late afternoon, which gives people a chance to get out and do personal things in the morning and then run back home for cover.”
From what she hears from staff, people are growing tired of the constant upheaval. DeHart says Haitians feel like the opposition has unlimited resources, which is why the protests have gone on for so long. “These people aren’t hitting the streets because they’re passionate about the subject. They’re hitting the streets because somebody is paying them to riot and they’re making money. Desperate people do desperate things.”
Seven or eight weeks into the school year, schools remain closed, with one exception. “There’s one Christian school up north that has managed to conduct classes through all of this, and they’ve stayed open. I don’t think there are any schools in Port-au-Prince that are open. I haven’t heard of any in the rest of the country except for this one isolated a Christian school. The kids are all going to be at least half a year behind in their education.”
Disruptions create complications
DeHart adds that the manifestations typically create issues for suppliers. The markets are bare. Food supplies are stuck at the docks because people can’t get to work. “It’s tough. People are being hurt in these riots, which is keeping the clinic exceptionally busy. So you have the supplies being used up and complications in replenishing those because of the conditions of the streets and riots.”
Plus, there’s no fuel. “Lack of fuel means its trucks can’t move around, and so food isn’t being distributed; stores don’t have food. We’re fast reaching major starvation levels for these people.”
With a Christmas Day party right around the corner, this period is critical for preparations and getting the supplies shipped. When asked how the protests might interfere, DeHart responded that November is a notoriously bad month in Haiti. That’s held true so far. “The last big shipment we sent in– it took us going as close as the wharf to retrieve our stuff because the shipper deemed it ‘unsafe ‘to load a truck with mission supplies and drive it to their normal warehouse.”
Praying big prayers for Haiti
However, she added that the crowds seem to take a ‘time out’ for December. “We’re counting on that. We sent down the shipment yesterday (Nov 13),
which was the last of the Christmas gifts. Then we’ll have another shipment going in after Thanksgiving; that will be the Christmas cookies and the other things for the party of about five or 600 kids on Christmas Day.”
The Christmas Day party is a single outreach event where the ministry invites the poorest of the communities around them to their headquarters. There, partygoers get a substantial meal (which includes meat and other protein as well as a cookie), a Christmas gift, and the presentation of the Gospel. It is that introduction to hope to which people respond. It is an opportunity in a place that presents a challenge to people acting in the name of Christ.
DeHart invites you to join her in some radical praying for the days ahead. “Just extreme prayers for peace for the country. It’s never been an easy country to work in for God, but He doesn’t promise us an easy path. We want to do our best for those who need us, and we want the people with the disagreements to go home and let things get back to normal so we can do the Lord’s work.”
Headline photo courtesy of Love A Child, Inc., FB