Do You Know What’s Going On In Haiti?

Three Friends – cc photo by J. Delp

The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world.

Dr. Paul Farmer

To the best of my knowledge, the photo above was taken in the Spring of 2014 in a rural Haitian community located in the mountains south of Port-Au-Prince. These three little guys, intrigued by the tall “blan” with the camera, paused their game of riding stick horses to get a closer look at the foreigner in their midst. Shy at first, they warmed up — bursting into fits of giggles as I counted to three in poorly enunciated French before taking their picture. “Un. Deux. Trois!” Uproarious laughter.

My guess is they would be about fourteen or fifteen now. While life nine years ago was far from easy for these little guys, chances are it is much harder now.

Haiti is a country that has experienced acute crisis after acute crisis on top of chronic poverty and systemic injustice. In 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake centered about 25 miles west of Port-Au-Prince resulted in utter devastation — a death toll that ran into the hundreds of thousands, destruction of infrastructure and the displacement of millions. In the years following the catastrophic quake, there has been a deadly cholera outbreak (lasting for years), multiple hurricanes, and the July 2021 assassination of elected president Jovenel Moise followed just a few months later by another 7.2 magnitude earthquake. All of this since 2010. A deeper dive into the history of Haiti (going back to the successful slave revolt that resulted in Haitian independence in 1804) reveals systemic injustices, violent dictatorships, and foreign meddling that have significantly interfered with Haiti’s ability to be a successful country.

Port-Au-Prince Street Scene – cc photo by J. Delp

Since the president’s assassination, the country has spiraled into nearly unimaginable levels of violence. It is estimated that armed gangs control nearly 80% of the capital city of Port-Au-Prince and are now extending their reach into rural communities. The gang fighting over territory has resulted in an epidemic of kidnapping, murder and rape that has terrorized the population, shut down schools and businesses, and severely disrupted the network of relief organizations attempting to address the chronic issues resulting from severe poverty. I am not an expert on Haiti, or what is currently happening in the country, but I know the situation is desperate — and unsustainable. A quick glance at the headlines on the UN News report on Haiti paints a grim picture of the current situation. The Haitian people need help. Now.

Therein lies the problem. I’m not sure what I can do to help. So I am writing.

I’m asking you to take a little time to read about this country and people whom I love. Do a Google search about Haiti. Pick up a good book to gain perspective. Learn about it’s history, it’s people, and the current humanitarian crisis. Here are a few suggestions:

11 Books About Haiti to Understand It’s Current Crisis

Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World – by Tracy Kidder

Following Jesus Through the Eye of the Needle: Living Fully, Loving Dangerously – by Kent Annan (or any of his other books — Slow Kingdom Coming or After Shock)

Through the Haze – cc photo by J. Delp

Three organizations I am familiar with that help Haitians (there are many, but I am familiar with these):

After learning. Consider how you might help. Share with others. Advocate for Haiti. Pray for Haiti. Be a voice.

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