We imagine that you have been seeing the frightening headlines about the situation Haiti this past month, and, like us, are concerned for the Haitian people whom the insecurity and unrest is harming. Perhaps you’re wondering how all of the trouble is affecting Rayjon’s partners and their work in Haiti, what steps we’re taking during the crisis, and what might come next.
Current Situation – the facts
Insecurity in Haiti has risen since the assassination of the Haitian President in July 2021, but in the last month the situation has deteriorated drastically.
Gang violence and control have increased.
There is a major (and complicated) gas crisis. For the average citizen the crisis means that gas is almost impossible to access and/or completely unaffordable (from $2 USD per gallon last year to upwards of $30 USD/gallon in some cases).
There are widespread and violent demonstrations and protests against the acting Prime Minister and his government (who have refused cries of the population for democratic process and failed to provide solutions to the crippling rising cost of living and gas crisis).
Public transportation, the school system, and many other public services are completely shut down. Safe travel between cities is not possible.
Food and water shortages are spreading, compounded by the inability to travel for commerce and trade.
A new cholera outbreak has occurred.
These issues are beyond the control of the average Haitian citizen.
How does it affect our Haitian partners and the communities they serve?
The short answer is that everything is harder.
- Imagine being a marketplace vendor, relying on public transportation to get you safely to and from the market to sell your wares. No public transport, no sales. If your goods are perishable produce, they are likely to spoil. And you have lost the income you relied on to support your family.
- Imagine being a single mother of four. Schools are closed and now you need to somehow organize child care (and worry about the safety of your children during the violence) so that you can go to work.
- Imagine being a moto-taxi driver. You wait in line for hours for gasoline, with no luck. If you do find some, it now costs more to fill up your tank that you would normally earn in a month.
- Or, imagine the work of the Centre for Nutrition & Education for Women & Children in Cap Haitian. They can’t safely open on days when there is conflict in the streets. Families have a hard time paying transportation to get them there to access help. Food, medicines, and supplies—everything costs more.
- The good news
Despite extreme challenges, our Haitian partners continue to accomplish great things. They are finding creative solutions and innovative ways of supporting vulnerable communities, helping them to build autonomy and use local resources to not only survive this crisis, but develop protection from future crises, too.
Renaud Thomas, Director of Rayjon Share Care Haiti in rural St. Marc somehow always manages to stay positive. Maybe it’s because he has seen firsthand in his own community just what is possible when Haitians put their heads together to create change. He explains that in the midst of so much chaos, the Pinson Community School is operating, Adult Literacy classes are ongoing, and the Haitian Women’s Federation is moving full-steam ahead with plans to expand their agri-business and breadfruit processing factory. He says they are “finding strategies to survive.”
It’s not going to be easy. The road is slow and rocky. The Haitian Women’s Federation, for example, has seen many delays in their project. Supplies that could have been purchased in a couple of days took a month to source and transport to the building site. Banks are closed most days and even if you get to the bank, you’ll stand in line for hours and likely be denied cash (your own cash!) at the end. It’s hard to pay salaries in that situation.
Where do we go from here?
Right now, when things look so bleak for Haiti, is the time that our commitment of solidarity matters most. There is no quick fix to the complex social, economic and political turmoil Haitians are experiencing.
We believe that solutions must be led by Haitians, hopefully with strong support from the international community. With or without a UN intervention, Haiti faces hard days ahead. It is now that we must continue to stand with the Haitian people, refusing to give up hard-won progress, and believing that the future can be better.
- If you’d like a glimpse of that future, just wait for our Annual Report coming next week to read all about some of the incredible changes our partners have achieved in the last year – and all they have planned for the coming year!
Also, don’t miss our Annual General Meeting on October 25th. We’ll be hearing directly from senior leaders in Haiti, and (assuming the internet connection is good), you’ll have the chance to ask them questions.
Our Haitian partners have not lost hope. They hope for a better future, and they’re willing to do what it takes to create one. Our request to you today is not an appeal for financial aid, but an appeal for your solidarity.
Rayjon is committed to maintaining current programs (even those that are swelling with increased need), and working with our partners to develop sustainable strategies for the long-term.
Stand with us.
Finally, we encourage you to keep learning more about the Haitian situation. It’s complex and the history of injustice is long and deep. Our partners have reported that many Haitians feel discarded, disrespected, and misrepresented. A little learning can go a long way to helping us all better understand how to best support Haiti.