Fear, Danger, Destruction: At a time of global and national crisis as Covid-19 continues to spread, Haitians are struggling with additional challenges that are hard for us to comprehend from the safety and comfort of Canada: rising gang violence, escalating political unrest, increased food insecurity, and the incredible burden of inflation. Inflation has reached its highest point since 2004, at a whopping  23% overall, and with the cost of specific necessities climbing even higher (27% on food, 45% on medicines). We fear a food security crisis in the works. 

For the first time since 1998, poverty rates are rising. The World Bank estimates that 40 million to 60 million people will fall into extreme poverty (under $1.90/day) in 2020 as a result of COVID-19. [1]

In addition to these difficulties, families from the gang violence plagued neighbourhood of Chaddah in Cap Haitien, were dealt another terrible blow when their community was razed to the ground (photo above) by police in June, in a large-scale effort to dismantle gang strongholds. While some are celebrating the destruction of gang territory and the mass arrests of gang leaders, there can be no doubt that innocent families are now dealing with yet another horrible injustice. There are 11 such families that are beneficiaries of the Rayjon-supported Centre for Nutrition & Education for Women & Children (C-NEW-C). They have lost everything. This month C-NEW-C staff have been busy trying to contact all families, and working with them on an individual basis to support relocation to a safer neighbourhood and to provide emergency assistance with clothing and food. 

COVID-19 Prevention and Health Care Support 

Throughout Covid-19, our Haitian & Dominican partners have been working tirelessly to respond to emerging challenges and implement rapid shifts in programs to prioritize emergency needs. Their efforts are slowing the spread of the virus, providing crisis support to families in need, and paving the way for recovery.  Here’s some of the vital activities they are leading during Covid-19:

– In partnership with sustainable healthcare organization Konbit Sante, we have supported educational campaigns throughout Cap Haitien neighbourhoods, teaching best practices for Covid-19 prevention and distributing hygiene (hand-washing ) supplies.

– In the Dominican Republic, where Covid-19 is spreading rapidly (now over 67,000 confirmed cases), Rayjon has supported urgently needed food baskets to families in the marginalized community of Barrio 41, where many heads of households are employed due to Covid-19. Families receiving the baskets have children attending the Rayjon-supported preschool in Barrio 41. 

– In an exciting new partnership with the Primate’s World Relief & Development Fund, the Haitian Women’s Federation, Rayjon Share Care Haiti has organized strong teams to help during this difficult time. Staff and volunteers have provided educational training and awareness about COVID-19 prevention. With a generous $10,000 grant from PWRDF urgently needed PPE, medications, and support to complete construction of additional patient rooms will be provided to the community health dispensary in the village of Barbe to expand access to vital health care services at this crisis time.

Barbe dispensary clinic Covidcovid-19 training prevention

(Above: Barbe clinic/dispensary, Covid-19 prevention training in St. Marc, Haiti)

Where Hope & Fear Intersect: This is a time of great uncertainty in Haiti and the DR. Schools remain closed, but the Haitian Ministry of Education is planning a staggered reopening to commence in early August. In Haiti, not only have students lost the time due to Covid-19, but they were already behind because of the political lockdown earlier in 2019. An August reopening is hoped to give teachers and students to finish the 2019-2020 school year before starting the 2020-2021 year in October or November. But nothing is certain in this crazy time. 

Despite unprecedented fear, confusion, and insecurity, our Haitian partners are doing great things. Their approach to community collaboration, and community solutions to seemingly insurmountable challenges is truly inspiring. 

In the above video, Rayjon’s manager in St. Marc, Haiti, Mr. Renaud Thomas, shares some of his thoughts on what is needed to overcome the current problems. This week he shared some addition words of motivation, in discussing frustration over the lack of government response to the needs of the population:

“Stop talking. Let’s do things together.”

They are hopeful, and we have reason to hope along with them. They are doing things together:

– Alpha Adult Literacy classes are set to resume next week

– The Pinson School will reopen in August

– The Nutrition Program in Cap Haitian continues to care for more than 25 high-needs families

– The Women’s Federation is ready with new ideas for community development in 2020-2021

– Microcredit loans and busines training will be underway again shortly

Join us as we support local solutions to complex problems.