Haiti (MNN) – Last week, President Trump reportedly made a comment using derogatory language in reference to countries in Africa along with Haiti and El Salvador. The report surfaced after a meeting about immigration that involved conversations on DACA and Temporary Protected Status.
While the president denied via Twitter that he ever used those words, the alleged comment understandingly wrought anger not only from the United States, but from nations around the world.
But with several decades of experience working with the Haitian people, Eva DeHart of For Haiti with Love has a response that is both honest and perhaps surprising: “Basically it kind of boils down to: people are up in arms about it in [the United States], and people in Haiti don’t see that much wrong with the comment because they can look around. They need help. They acknowledge that they need help. They have needed help since the earthquake and before, and obviously didn’t get it.”
For Haiti with Love has been operating in Haiti since the 60’s. They’re very familiar with the ongoing needs and systematic challenges that face Haiti and how disasters like the earthquake further impact those challenges.
But DeHart says their focus is never about getting people out of Haiti to escape these challenges. Rather, they’re geared towards long-term solutions and transformation. They’re committed to helping the Haitian people regain a viable homeland.
“Our whole purpose has always been to make life better where they are living. Not bringing them here for a better life—not encouraging them to come here for a better life.”
So when she hears comments like President Trump’s, she hopes it will draw more people into the solution.
“Things are bad, and they know they’re bad. I find it a little ironic that he used the phrasing he did since one of our newest projects has been to start building community latrines… The people want them, they’re needed. They don’t have any place to go. They don’t have bathrooms in their homes. They don’t have running water in their homes.”
She explains that even where people have cisterns of water, there is not a sanitary system to take care of waste. Flushed toilets empty into the streets.
“Even in Port Au Prince, you step off a curb, you step over the water because you know what’s in it,” she says.
What this means is that there is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to hygiene in Haiti. DeHart says, “everything else is so bad it’s one of the situations of ‘where do you start?’”
But rather than get stuck on that question, For Haiti with Love focuses on what they can do. So that means building latrines, and it means providing medical care through their burn clinic.
“We’re a small organization and we have focused in on helping where we can help, and burns are definitely an area where we can help. We build homes for homeless people when we have the money. We try to always include an outhouse as a part of that project.”
The result of their work is this: God is glorified because people understand that the work being done to improve their lives is only made possible because of God and the people he’s called to help.
“Everything that you do down there is an opportunity to witness and to thank the Lord,” DeHart says.
She explains that time and time again, volunteers go to Haiti with the expectation to ‘evangelize’ the people there. But what usually ends up happening is those same volunteers come home humbled, and in a way, evangelized.
“Yes, there is a dark side to Haiti. But their light side, their godly side is so strong and so believing and they don’t have a problem understanding that God did this for them.”
If you’d like to engage with this story, start with prayer. Ask God to raise up the people to focus on bringing transformation to Haiti. Pray for renewal and for the Gospel to be known in Haiti. DeHart says we can also pray for those who have left Haiti to not view themselves as escapees, but as part of the solution.