Haiti (MNN) – When the United Nations set the stage for the end of peacekeeping in Haiti, the people who took note were not necessarily the Haitians.
Eva DeHart of For Haiti With Love explains, “The obsession in Haiti right now is no fuel, no food, and no power. The man on the street is saying “a new prime minister? We’ll just wait and see what he’s going to do.”
Mostly, what FHWL hears are the complaints that fueled February riots. “They have a president who promised them electricity 24/7 and they haven’t had electricity since he made the promise because you can’t produce power in a Third World country without fuel and they don’t have the fuel.”
Haiti’s boiling point
Haitians, fed up with the fuel shortage, began a slow boil in December 2018 over the Venezuelan discounted oil program. Social programs the savings were meant to help still struggled. By January, food and fuel prices spiked and demonstrations evidenced the dissatisfaction.
In February, a one-day protest turned into a 10-day shutdown. DeHart says, “Whoever organized it did it well enough to affect the entire country. They had manifestations (riots/protests) everywhere. There were so many people carrying guns that the average person was afraid to even go out for water or food.”
Since most people don’t have food or water stored, the 10-day shutdown turned at-risk situations critical. By March, the country saw over 200 demonstrations over four months, with protesters finally demanding the resignation of the president.
DeHart expressed frustration over the coverage of Haiti’s unrest. While acknowledging people need to know what was going on, she says, “Front-paging all of those riots compounded the damage of the riots by the effects of [the United States] pulling back.”
The impact of the 10-day shutdown has far-reaching implications. For example, “It has affected businesses, mission teams are canceling because they don’t feel safe in going down, (and) it has affected contributions.”
Today, things are calm, but it’s too little, too late.
“We had a team of 14 that canceled. We had another nurse that was going down by herself and she canceled. We have no bookings for teams this year. When you don’t have people coming in, it affects how much you can accomplish; it affects the morale of the country because those teams do a lot for lifting hope.”
Weeks after the riots calmed, the effect ripples through the most vulnerable communities. The United Nations recently named Haiti among ten countries facing food insecurities. The report indicated that due to political instability, 2.6 million people are now severely insecure when it comes to food.
The 10-day shutdown exacerbated the food crisis. Even as recently as this past weekend, DeHart says her team decided to take their food program to the streets.
“Saturday, they prepared bags of rice and beans and they just went down on the streets to the people who looked the most desperate, who were begging for food because they didn’t know what else to do.”
For that group of people, the hands and feet of Christ brought “A …a whole lot of hope, a whole lot of promise, changed lives, and God got all of the glory. This came from God’s people in the United States and we were just sharing it.”
The moments of meeting the most basic physical needs also open doors for conversations with people starved for hope. “We need to continue doing those things that show God’s love and give them the feeling that there really is hope for the future, we’ve just got to all work together and find it.”
If you want to be part of the solution, please consider joining For Haiti With Love. You can pray, you can give, or you can go. (Click ‘go’ to read more about the short-term team in the April newsletter)
Headline photo courtesy For Haiti With Love