Over the last three weeks many of you have asked the question, “What does the recent kidnapping in Haiti mean for World Wide Village? Will your programs shut down with no teams or Americans in Haiti?” We wanted to take just a moment to answer that question for you and give you a brief “state of the union” from our Haitian staff and other partners in Haiti.
First, we ask you to join us in praying for the 17 missionaries who were kidnapped in Haiti more than three weeks ago. Over recent months, the gang activity in certain parts of the capital of Port-au-Prince have become a major problem. Please pray for the safe release of the missionaries as well as for our Haitian friends in Port-au-Prince who live with the threat of violence and kidnapping each day.
World Wide Village teams have been on hold for the last six months due to the conditions near the airport in Port-au-Prince and will continue to be on hold until God brings peace to the streets in Haiti. We are thankful the violence has not made its way to Williamson and Luly; however, the people of rural Haiti are still affected by travel and supply chains being disrupted because of the violence.
We also want you to know that World Wide Village programs in Haiti are still going strong. Even without the help of American teams we have amazing Haitian staff who continue God’s work on the ground in Haiti. Teaming your ongoing generosity and their boots on the ground, thousands of people in Haiti continue to be blessed!
So… WHAT’S HAPPENING IN HAITI?
WELLS: Thanks to you, solar power continues to power the wells in Williamson and Luly providing water to thousands. With a lack of fuel again crippling the country, we are so thankful for your gift of solar power and God’s gift of the sun! The wells are busy on a daily basis with people fetching water for their families, washing clothes to earn a living and watering their livestock.
SCHOOLS: Unfortunately, schools all across Haiti were closed for two weeks in late October and early November. Roads were blocked as calls for protests of the government and the recent gang violence shut down the country and forced students to stay home. A lack of fuel (due to gang violence) made it nearly impossible for classes to resume as some students and teachers could not get to school.
We are thankful that most classes were able to resume today and students are back to learning. One of our school administrators said, “Even with the situation of the country, we continue to work hard.” The perseverance of the Haitian people is admirable.
With the start of school, a new lunch pavilion was christened in Williamson where students from several different schools now gather to each lunch! A daily lunch is vital during this time of uncertainty for students in rural Haiti. A special thanks to all of our student sponsors for making this possible! Enjoy a recent video from our new lunch pavilion and a song from The Good Samaritan School.
We are thankful that some of the educational programs supported by World Wide Village have continued to thrive during this time.
The Hope for the Youth English School held a graduation ceremony at the end of October. It was a wonderful celebration for those students who went above and beyond their regular classwork to learn English over the last 12 months.
A new session of the English School started on Saturday where even more young adults will learn this valuable skill.
The World Wide Village Sewing Center has also continued to teach students in the sewing program. The teachers and students in this program live locally so are able to walk to school. The important work of building up the young adults of Haiti continues!
HEALTHCARE: Our Healthy Mothers + Healthy Babies program continues to serve moms and babies on a daily basis. Over 150 moms and babies have been blessed with healthcare in just the first eight months of our doors being open to patients. THANK YOU for making this possible! Stay tuned for some exciting news coming up with Healthy Mothers + Healthy Babies later this month!
All of these programs and many more continue to bless the people of Haiti thanks to your ongoing generosity, but it has not been easy. Here are just a few examples of the difficulties in Haiti that our staff face on a daily basis…
- Feeding the 1,000+ students has become more and more expensive as food prices have increased and it is harder and harder to get food in the rural villages due to lack of fuel and blocked roads.
- Cell phone service has been intermittent in the rural villages. We are thankful for ongoing internet service at the guesthouse so we can communicate with our staff in Haiti, but no cell service makes coordinating programs very difficult.
- Soaring inflation means the cost of schoolbooks is too high for many parents to afford this year. Our Haitian staff are being asked for help with purchasing school essentials on a daily basis.
- Many of our programs – like Healthy Mothers + Healthy Babies – depend upon supplies from the U.S. or Port-au-Prince. When there is no fuel for travel or violence makes it unsafe to get supplies, our medical staff have to make do with what they have.
- The simple task of checking on a sponsored student can mean a two-mile walk for our staff when there is no fuel available to get around the villages.
One of our ministry partners, Dr. Mark Fulton with Mission Haiti Medical, recently summarized the many struggles in Haiti. This summary can give you a glimpse of the trials in Haiti, but also the reason for the hope that we have.
For the last year or more, gangs have controlled many roads and ports here in Haiti, making some areas impassable. This disrupts the ability for much of the population to get to different areas of the island, which makes commerce very difficult.
In the last few years, gasoline and sometimes diesel has been scarce, often due to the inability of the gas trucks to move through the roads from the ports to other areas of the island. Movement throughout the island has been extremely limited due to this situation.
Haiti has been in the grips of double-digit inflation in the last couple of years, due to various factors, often beyond my comprehension. Salary increases for those lucky enough to have employment have not begun to stay current with the rate of inflation. Food insecurity and malnutrition is rampant.
While Haiti did not have the same severity of disease as some countries, the presence of COVID presented medical challenges, lost lives, and added pressures to an already overburdened medical community.
In July, the president of Haiti, Jovenel Moise, was assassinated. There are many questions that remain as to the “who” and the “why” of this crime, but regardless, it created a leadership void that still remains.
On August 14, 2021, a huge earthquake focused its destruction on the southern part of Haiti. Many lives were lost and significant damage was caused to structures throughout the southern part of the country.
In September of this year, many planeloads of Haitians were sent back to Haiti from the border of the US and Mexico. This is a complex situation that has many solutions offered, but certainly has not helped to improve circumstances here for those returned nor for a country that has so many challenges already.
While there has been a rash of kidnappings over the last several months, the increasingly brazen attitude of the kidnappers and the abduction of a large group of American/Canadian citizens has caught the attention of the American press. The fear of traveling through certain areas where kidnappers rule has further inhibited movement around the country.
…I don’t understand how one small country can endure so many levels of hardship. I don’t understand how our Haitian friends are to continue as the pressures of this world smother them. Our missionary friends are leaving one by one, as the problems of living here mount. Missionaries usually have a choice to leave. Most of our Haitian friends do not.
Sometimes it is difficult to remain hopeful. Sometimes it is tempting to just return to our roots where so many of these challenges are not the norm. We have had things stolen, been threatened, been misunderstood, and been physically challenged. Sometimes we want to give up.
But, then we remember a God who called us here who sent His son, who not only was falsely accused but also was abused and killed on behalf of His love for all of us. It doesn’t make the situation easier, but gives us hope based upon His promise of a life beyond all of this, which makes this all pale in comparison. I pray all of us can bask in that hope. That is the only answer I seem to know. – Dr. Mark Fulton