Earlier this month, I sat in a room with a few of the most intelligent and passionate people I know, who coincidentally serve as Bright Hope’s field directors and international staff. The following quote came from the heart of the wise woman who works as Bright Hope’s consultant to the Haiti civil war.
“Pray that people will begin to see Haiti with new eyes and understand what is happening there and that Haitians will see themselves with new eyes too.”
Her words, and the sentiment with which she delivered her request, have stayed with me for days. And I’m left wondering, what do my fellow Americans think about gang violence in Haiti? And more importantly, is the war in Haiti on anyone’s mind?
I’ve read article after article about the devastating current events in this Caribbean country, but I wanted to hear firsthand from someone living amidst the intensified violence and unrest. So, I reached out once again to Jonah* in Bright Hope’s Haiti office. I interviewed Jonah early this spring for my blog, “Haiti, a Country in Crisis.” Much has changed since we published that blog in March; sadly, those changes haven’t been for the better.
Before I jump into our interview, I want to thank Jonah and the rest of Bright Hope’s Haiti team for their faith and courage. Yes, they are strong and have the support of Bright Hope’s home office. Nonetheless, their service puts them in danger. Yet, no one can deter them from the job at hand. They are the Lord’s hands and feet in the Haiti civil war. God bless and protect them.
What has changed in the Haiti civil war recently?
Jonah: “The installation of a new government after the planned assassination of President Jovenel Moïse has failed to halt the upturning of law, justice, and good in the face of anarchy, injustice, and crime. On the contrary, Haiti gang violence continues to gain ground, the purchasing power of the population decreases because of rising inflation, and unemployment and misery are rampant while the population gives less and less credit to the authorities. The government cannot run the country in this indescribable slump. Fuel shortages and the black market drive prices up, and anger escalates. Haiti is in a power struggle. The people are led into a vicious circle of misery and insecurity by the collusion of hellish elites.”
How are people responding to these changes?
Jonah: “Faced with their quality of life deteriorating and the despair that haunts them daily, the Haitian people are multiplying their demonstrations [of protest]. Peaceful at first, [the demonstrations] became violent over time; shops were vandalized, food depots including the WFP, Caritas, and UNICEF were looted, the main roads everywhere were blocked or barricaded, and the population calls for the government leaders in place to resign. These riots have spread throughout all the big cities of the country, which has globally paralyzed the country.”
What are Haiti’s greatest needs right now?
Jonah: “The most urgent needs in Haiti right now are peace and security. People need to be able to circulate without worries and carry out their economic activities without being intimidated by bandits who rob and pillage, violently kidnap, and kill. Security is the first thing needed for the good of the public.”
What would you like Bright Hope’s allies to know about Haiti that they might not see on the news?
Jonah: “Looking at the media, one might think Haiti is made only of desolation, misery, violence, and ugliness. But there is reason to say Haiti is beautiful and full of untapped potential. The population is largely impoverished by those who rule, but it is not miserable. The country lacks infrastructure, but its landscape and climate are enchanting. If the violence of armed gangs tends to make headlines in the newspapers, know nevertheless that the Haitian people are not violent people. They are just combative and resilient, and they are people who fight for the respect of their rights. Haiti is hospitality, laughter, dancing, blue skies, and beautiful beaches. Haiti is a country of artists who fight for life.”
How can we pray for the Bright Hope staff in Haiti? And how can we pray for Haiti?
Jonah: “The Bright Hope staff would appreciate your prayers for their protection and the success of their projects. Please pray for the return of peace and security in Haiti. Above all, pray for the emergence of new, enlightened, and honest leaders to take hold of the country’s reigns.”
You can help this country in crisis by supporting Bright Hope’s Haiti projects. Our Hope for Tomorrow programs help the impoverished in Haiti break free from the grip of poverty and live sustainable lives. Join us and help transform Haiti’s future.