Civil unrest has been building in Haiti since July 2018. Protests escalated on February 7th and have continued in strength since then. Haitians are frustrated and angry- and with reason. They have suffered from soaring costs of fuel, food and other necessities, while millions of dollars entrusted to the government and intended to benefit the people are unaccounted for (with accusations of misappropriation and corruption). The official opposition and thousands upon thousands of protesters have been calling for the resignation of Haiti’s President, Jovenel Moïse.
While it remains to be seen how the current government will respond to the cries of frustration of the people, or what will happen in the coming weeks, we do know that already there is already a heightened need among the most vulnerable. There are widespread fuel, food, and water shortages.
We also know that the people of Haiti soldier on. The positive progress we have seen in the last year has not disappeared with the political upheaval. For example, the strong women who lead the Women’s Federation in rural St. Marc are not abandoning their goals for their community. They continue to plan and to seek opportunities for more education, training, and business initiatives.
We are committed to ensuring that all Rayjon-supported programs (inc. health care, education, capacity building) continue to the absolute extent possible in the face of the current challenges.
We do know that it will be extremely difficult for staff and community leaders to continue as normal. Individuals who previously struggled just to feed their families are now in an even more precarious situation. Families fear to leave their homes, angry protesters and even masked gangs roam the streets, most schools and businesses are closed, and uncertainty is everywhere. However, the extraordinary perseverance of the Haitian against all odds is once again evident. It is important that we continue to stand alongside them through the uncertainty and trials.
We are trying to maintain near constant contact with our staff, partners and friends in Haiti, as we do our best to support them in the coming weeks and months. Their safety is priority, and we do expect there to be delays with programs as a result of the unrest. Rayjon’s own travel plans have also had to be interrupted. Rayjon had planned to send a team of 10 Canadians to Haiti in early March to celebrate International Women’s Day and an Eyeglass Team to Cap Haitien in April. Unfortunately with the violence, road blockades and shutdown of nearly all essential services in Haiti, these trips have had to be postponed or cancelled.
We won’t cancel our commitment to stand alongside Haitians, and we remain positive about the progress they have made in the last year and the opportunities for continued development in 2019-2020. Their strength and courage inspires us and reminds us to persevere.
We continue to celebrate the achievements of the Women’s Federation and women in Haiti. While we can’t be physically present with them on March 8th for International Women’s Day, we stand in solidarity and commitment to #BalanceforBetter.
Please join us in prayer for peace, resolution, and a clear path forward.
Thank you for your continued support. We will do our best to share updates as they become available.