Haiti (MNN) — Riots erupted in Haiti last Monday as angry protesters accused Nepalese peace-keeping troops of originally emanating the cholera epidemic, which has now claimed over 1,000 lives according to AFP.
The riots appear to be more a political matter, however, than an actual reaction to the outbreak. Bright Hope International president and CEO Craig Dyer says, "I think a lot of it is driven, first off, by people who are politically motivated in gaining power; and somewhat by people using people who are ignorant of how this disease spreads and [who] just don't understand."
People may have been easy to manipulate and persuade to riot out to fear and a lack of education about cholera. "There is a wave of fear," says Dyer. "Haiti is already a country that's been captured, I think, by a spirit of darkness in the whole voodoo realm. But then I think that spirit has just caused a wave of fear where some people just don't understand how this disease is being spread and why people are really dying."
These riots prove that many Haitians do truly seem confused about where cholera comes from. As an AFP report revealed, tests were completed that cleared Nepalese troops of all accusations linking them to the onset of the epidemic. The UN claims the outbreak started with a septic tank near the Nepalese troops' base. Regardless, the disease is extremely preventable if only people know how to handle it.
Yet many people clearly do not know how to handle it. Sources vary but report anywhere from 15,000 to 17,000 infections in the country at present. Even Bright Hope has felt the blow of cholera, especially with the death of a ten-year-old boy in a Bright Hope-supported church. "That was a needless death. He died of dehydration. He didn't die from the cholera — he died from the results of the cholera," explains Dyer. "And I just think this is the time when the church has got to act and got to be the church and speak some truth down in Haiti."
Dyer continues, "All of this is very preventable. So I think it's an awesome time for the churches in the country to be standing up, giving truthful information about the disease, and sharing how it can be prevented."
In response, Bright Hope is helping the church in Haiti to be the voice of reason and truth by providing them with two useful resources. The areas which are home to most of Bright Hope's projects have yet to be as terribly affected by the disease as other regions, so the first major step is prevention. Bright Hope is sending oral rehydration solutions made up of sugar, salt and clean water to help hydrate people, which will allow their bodies to fight cholera if they get it. These rehydration kits are being distributed through the local churches.
Cholera is generally combatable with proper hydration, but for more severe cases, Bright Hope is providing antibiotics. The ministry hopes that by being a calming voice, replacing lies about cholera with truth, and administering aid through the local church, the Gospel will shine through.
Although these initiatives are relatively inexpensive to carry out ($5 to provide oral rehydration for one person, and $10 to distribute antibiotics), Bright Hope has depleted its emergency funds by sending aid for what seems to be an unusual number of disasters for one year. If you can spare just $5 or $10 to prevent the epidemic from worsening, click here.
Most importantly, pray for Haiti. Pray that the Lord would use the numerous disasters that have struck the country to bring every Haitian to Himself. Pray that Bright Hope would illuminate the Gospel by providing truth, be it about cholera, about health, or about Jesus Christ.