November 27, 2019

Some areas of Haiti are now experiencing relative calm and efforts to reopen businesses, schools, and marketplaces. We are very grateful, and very proud, of our staff and partners who have diligently persisted through the last two months of turmoil. They have maintained vital programs to the maximum extent possible, continuing to support the most vulnerable families and dedicated to improving quality of life for Haitians.

In Cap Haitien, at the Centre for Nutrition & Education for Women & Children (C-NEW-C), the Nutrition Program is fully operational. Adult programs are also running, allowing parents to access education and training (sewing, adult literacy). We are especially pleased that the literacy classes have resumed, and the numbers are growing daily as participants feel able to return to routine. There are still some modifications in the centre’s hours, but streets are becoming safe again and movement around the city is much less restricted.

In November there was definitely a need for extra support to “Red Zone” families—those with the highest, most urgent needs—and thankfully the Centre has been able to step in with emergency support. 6-year old Davidson (who was treated at the CNEWC for malnutrition as a very young child), and his grandmother (who receives support through the Help-Age program for the elderly), lost their home when it was burned to the ground in a fire started by gangs in their neighbourhood. Thanks to the Red Zone program they were able to receive some emergency assistance that has helped them find a new home to rent.

Schools have not yet opened in Cap Haitien, but it has been announced that Monday December 2nd is now the target date to reopen schools. The 78 students receiving tuition support are eagerly awaiting this time, hoping to regain the time lost and make up for missed studies.

In the city of St. Marc this week has also brought some signs of improvement: some businesses are starting to open, as is the marketplace. However, goods are not readily available because of the lockdown in the past month (no gas, no movement to other areas for trade, poor supply of incoming goods, etc.). Last Friday armed police and military forcibly cleared streets of blockades, facilitating traffic flow and removing some obstacles. There has been no announcement of a re-opening for schools in St. Marc. Sources tell us January is the expected time, but this has not been officially confirmed.

Throughout the crisis, we have been amazed by the rural communities we work with in the Haut de St. Marc region: 

  • The Pinson School has operated since September and continues to function well. Extra school supplies are being purchased with funds from the Rotary project. With some special support to teachers in the form of transportation, all teachers are able to get to and from work without difficulty.
  • Alpha Literacy classes are ongoing. Numbers (as expected) are reduced during this time as families struggle with transportation, childcare due to school closures, and pressing needs of employment and basic necessities… but as many participants as are able are coming. We are working with local partners to encourage more participants to join in the coming months.
  • Microcredit & Women’s Initiatives: Women’s groups are starting to regain momentum that was stalled during the height of the crisis. A celebration is planned in the village of Pierre Savaly in December. An entrepreneurial/financial training will take place in December for microcredit participants. We are anticipating the ability to fully re-boot the program in January 2020. Extra support for the program has been received in Canada, and we look forward to some exciting official announcements in early 2020!

Politically, socially, economically, there remain some huge hurdles. The capital Port-au-Prince still has entire zones in lockdown because of gang violence and insecurity. Not all businesses and government offices are functioning. While there are many cries at all levels of society for dialogue, collaboration, and a clear transition plan, it remains unclear what will happen next.

 Is this a return to normal?  What happens next? Can the Senate agree and approve a plan of action for a unified Haiti? Will the people of Haitian support their plan?

While we watch and wait we remain firm in our commitment to Haiti and its people. The progress in Cap Haitian and St. Marc has not been lost. As we inch closer to 2020, and the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the earthquake, we are reflecting with our partners, together forging a renewed vision.



Update: October 31, 2019

It is disappointing that so little Haitian news is visible in mainstream media in Canada. One thing that we can do for our partners and friends in Haiti is share the news, spreading awareness. The following are some helpful articles that share a bit more about the unrest, giving valuable historical/cultural perspective that we hope will help to grow understanding of the Haitian situation and the complex factors behind it. We are asking our supporters to share updates, and to follow and share Rayjon’s posts on social media.

“Haiti’s Blackouts Are Both Electrical and Emotional” by Greg Beckett, October 28, 2019

“Haiti Is in the Streets” by Amy Wilentz, October 24, 2019

“Demonstrators in Haiti Are Fighting for an Uncertain Future” by Edwidge Danticat, October 10, 2019