Who are the gangs in Williamson? What do they want?
For several years people from the mountains above Williamson have been claiming that they own land in areas surrounding Williamson. Until recently their focus was on land in the community of Carries which is farther north up the coast from Williamson. In Carries they have burned houses and forced people from their homes. Many of those affected moved to Williamson. Within the last week the mountain gangs have turned their terrorism on Williamson, forcing people out of their homes – many with only the clothes there were wearing.
I sponsor a student from Williamson. Is my sponsored student safe?
Our staff has been working overtime to call and locate all sponsored students who live in Williamson to see if they are safe and where they fled. It is our goal to make sure each student has shelter and to provide food packages for those who have been affected to help sustain them until things settle down. You can donate to those efforts HERE.
Where is law enforcement?
Williamson does not have its own police force. Any law enforcement comes from the county seat in Arcahaie. Unfortunately, with the ongoing gang activity in Port au Prince and surrounding areas, the police are overtaxed and outgunned. There is little to no availability for the rural areas. Vigilantes from Williamson have taken it upon themselves to stand up to the gangs from the mountains to defend their community. Last week, clashes between the mountain gangs and vigilantes became violent, causing everyone in the community to flee for their safety. Last night was the first night in several days with no gunfire heard.
Is WWV affected by the violence?
Praise God that all our WWV staff members are safe and none of the WWV properties have been violated. We are being told that WWV is well respected in the area and even the gang members understand that we are working for the community. We are thankful that they have not attacked our clinic, schools or wells.
What WWV programs are still operating?
Thankfully, Luly has had no threats of violence and everything in that community is operating as usual, including the well and Youth Bible Programs. Schools are still on summer break until their scheduled opening on September 11th.
Because of the violence in Williamson, we had to temporarily halt some of our program operations to protect our staff members. The medical center is closed and the wells in Williamson are not operating as everyone has fled the village. We are currently shifting our efforts to be able to provide for those who have fled. Dollars from the Healthy Mothers + Healthy Babies program are being used to send mothers and babies in our program to surrounding hospitals for care.
We are also raising funds to provide food packs for our students and families who have fled Williamson and are seeking shelter with family and friends in neighboring communities. Please consider donating to that effort HERE!
Are supplies still available?
Supplies (food, clothing, building materials, etc.) are still available and roads have mostly remained open. However, everything still comes from Port au Prince. Because of that, the supply chain has slowed, and prices have skyrocketed. We are still providing for needs, but at a much higher cost.
What is the future?
We clearly cannot fully predict the future, but we are committed to continuing to serve the people of Williamson and Luly, even when it’s difficult. We are cautiously optimistic that the situation will resolve, as the vigilantes have been standing strong in Williamson. As peace returns to the community, the people will also slowly return to Williamson.
Our staff is doing an excellent job of thinking outside the box to help meet needs, even while they themselves have had to leave their homes and seek safe places to stay. By God’s grace and with your help, World Wide Village will continue to serve in Williamson and Luly for many years to come!
How can you help?
Pray, give and ask others to help!