Haiti (MNN) — According to Reuters, Haitian witch doctors say they’re concocting secret remedies and preparing rooms in 1,000 voodoo temples to treat COVID-19 patients. Haiti’s failed infrastructure and inadequate medical care leave viable options few and far between.
Plus, “Voodoo is a very strong influence in Haiti. When people are sick, they often will go to a witch doctor for a solution,” Kate Michel explains. Michel oversees fundraising and communication at 4VEH, TransWorld Radio’s partnering network in Haiti.
“Even if they are suffering from money problems, they will go to the witch doctor often first.”
Fact vs. fiction
In mid-April, Haitian Prime Minister Joseph Jouthe declared victory over COVID-19 and began re-opening the country. However, coronavirus infections quintupled in recent weeks, driving desperation sky-high. “Patients are in a very difficult spot right now. A lot of health clinics are not prepared to receive people and to treat them for COVID-19,” Michel says.
With few options in sight, Haitians turn to what they know. Half of the country’s 11 million people practice voodoo.
“Voodoo ceremonies are about appealing to the Voodoo spirit… that’s what people are turning to for help and for hope. We encourage people to turn to the Lord and to ask for God’s help and God’s intervention in this.”
4VEH began broadcasting in Haiti 70 years ago, so “we’re a trusted voice; people rely on what they hear on 4VEH,” Michel says. Most Haitians get their information and news through radio, giving 4VEH a Gospel opportunity.
“We really feel that God has raised up 4VEH to be that voice of hope for such a time as this,” Michel says. “We’re able to create jingles and songs that encourage people to wash hands and to stay at a distance. And, we’re able to answer lots of questions, too.”
Misinformation about COVID-19 preceded the virus’s arrival in Haiti, VOA News reports. “People are hearing fake news, rumors of all kinds of treatments, all kinds of reasons why the virus is in Haiti,” Michel confirms.
“We’re able to find the right information and then relate to them in a way that is loving, and hopefully sharing the love of Christ with them.”
How to help Haiti
Click here to support TWR and 4VEH broadcasts. They’re pairing practical help for today with Gospel hope for tomorrow. Most importantly, pray. Using the prompts listed alongside this article, “please keep praying for Haiti,” Michel requests.
“Right now, the numbers of COVID-19 cases are accelerating and Haiti is not prepared to deal with it. The days ahead look very, very difficult.”
Use this resource from our sister ministry, Prayercast, to pray into the COVID-19 pandemic.
Header image is a 2012 photo by Albert Gonzalez Farran – UNAMID. It depicts a master on traditional medicine in Sudan preparing a treatment against mental illnesses.