Haiti Update: Progress Despite Turmoil
On August 14, the people of Haiti remembered the one-year anniversary of the 7.2 earthquake that rocked the southern half of the country. This devastating earthquake was followed by a tropical storm that hit the same southern area of the country and washed away some of the few buildings that remained after the earthquake. The unelected prime minister of Haiti gave a speech to remember this anniversary because Haiti still has no president to give a speech. Their president was killed July 7, 2021, just one month before the earthquake. And still today no one has been found responsible for the assassination. With no official government, gang violence has grown stronger as rival gangs vie for control of Haiti. Many innocent Haitians are suffering and dying as a result.
The list could go on. You may think to yourself that nothing good is happening in Haiti. But you would be wrong!
St. Philippians Sam and Carol Robinson, Gerry and Suzanne McCord, and Miles Barkley all attended the annual partnership meeting of La Gonâve Haiti Partners in Atlanta July 28–July 30. We all came away amazed at the progress made over the last year in spite of all of these challenges.
Thanks to St. Philip’s partnership with our sister church and the La Gonâve Haiti Partnership (LGHP)––along with the hard work, perseverance, and unwavering faith in God of our brothers and sisters in Haiti––the progress continues.
The remote location of the 10 churches and adjoining schools in our partnership on the island of La Gonâve, which can only be reached by boat or small airplane, is actually a blessing during this season of political unrest. The gangs really have no interest in what is happening on La Gonâve. However, due to the high inflation rates and violence on the mainland, everything is more expensive than ever before, and the cost and risk to get the needed food and supplies to the island have increased.
But even with these challenges, just look at this list of accomplishments over the last year:
1. There is a new computer lab at the mother church school, St. Francis! It is really a miracle that this shipping-container computer lab was even able to be delivered to Haiti. Then to make it through customs and all the way to the island is a double miracle. And now the lab inside is up and running perfectly! The mini-split air-conditioning unit, as well as the lights and the computers, are all powered by solar panels and back-up generators. This is the only air-conditioned, fully enclosed and secure room anywhere on La Gonâve. Needless to say, it is a favorite place to go not just for students, but also for teachers and our priest-in-charge. Thanks to this lab and a new internet booster, we were even able to successfully Zoom with him during the annual meeting. We were also able to hear from the head of the schools, the doctor in charge of our medical clinic, and the administrator in charge of our microfinance and adult education programs. This a big step forward for our partnership relationship especially during these challenging years of no travel due to COVID and the political turmoil. This simple computer lab is really an answer to prayer.
2. Daily hot meals were provided for all the students and adult literacy students as well for just 35 cents a day.
3. School supplies were provided for the all the teachers in all 10 schools.
4. Summer camps were held in four of the most remote villages, including our sister church school. The students were given their uniforms and shoes for the new school year as well as a hot lunch.
5. Phase one of the new middle school, Ste. Marthe et Ste. Marie, has been completed and will be open for school this year. Three classrooms, a cistern, toilet and kitchen, and lunchroom have been completed––with furniture, too. This is very exciting for the most remote church schools, like our sister church, since more students will be able to attend because it will be close enough for them to reach by walking each day.
6. Goats and training were provided to two of the most needy families in each community.
7. Repairs and renovations were made to our hospital/clinic, including a new emergency room.
8. Uniforms and backpacks were provided to each of the health care workers––there are at least two for each of the 10 communities.
9. Shirts and supplies were provided for all of our adult literacy programs.
10. Relief funds were provided to those most in need.
These are just some of the exciting things that happened in the 10 LGHP church communities during this last year.
Our sister church celebrated the feast of St. John the Baptist again on June 24. We were able to join them remotely by sending a video message with some photos from past visits for them to enjoy via What’s App. They sent back to us a video of the choir singing during communion. There were 15 children baptized also at the feast day service––the congregation is growing for sure! We really miss being able to worship and feast together in person, but virtual travel is better than nothing!
You might be asking how you can help. First and foremost is prayer. Please keep the people of Haiti in your prayers. Pray that they can create a new government that is controlled by good and honest leaders. And of course continue to keep our sister church in your prayers. Pray that conditions will improve so that St. Philip’s can travel once again to visit for next year’s feast day celebration, June 24, 2023!
There are also many more hands-on ways to serve our brothers and sisters in Haiti. Follow LGHP on social media to keep up with all the good things happening. Reach out and get involved. Website: lagonavepartners.org. Instagram: Instagram.com/lagonave.haiti.partners. Facebook: facebook.com/lagonave.haiti.partners.
There may be many trials and set-backs in Haiti, both from nature and from man, but the Haitian people continue to inspire us to try harder and to never give up. Together we are stronger. Like it says in Philippians 4:13: I (We) can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (us). Bondye Bon! God is good!
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