Haiti Update - July-August 2018
by Vernon Giesbrecht
Politics & World Cup – Haiti’s reality is double-digit inflation, a depreciating currency, low purchasing power, and little in the way of job creation. In such a pressure-cooker situation, the ill-timed announcement by the government to increase gas, diesel, and kerosene prices sparked days of violent rioting fueled by social media (Yes, it’s in Haiti too!). The increases were part of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. The government miscalculated the reaction on two fronts: First, most people could hardly afford the fuel prices already in place and; Second, the announcement was made during the World Cup’s Brazil-Belgium game. Haiti’s obsession with soccer was interrupted!! The impact: While the increases were immediately temporarily suspended, the frustration – one could say, despair - of the Haitian people forced the resignation of the Prime Minister and his cabinet. Please pray for the President as he forms a new government, one that can guide the people out of “Haiti’s misery”, as one writer put it.
Civil Unrest & Mission Teams – A medical mission team, Bridge of Life, was also impacted by the dangerous protests. Eleven of the large team were able to enter the country, five to Double Harvest and six to safe accommodations in Port-au-Prince, just before all flights were cancelled, and a travel ban issued. One of our doctors stayed with the five, and fed and cared for them for five days. He, himself, was not able to return home. The response of the team leader: “I’ve led countless volunteer trips all over the world. You can never prepare enough for something like this. Your local staff had all the right people and logistics in place so that we never really had to worry on our own. We are so very grateful!” The team has rescheduled for October.
Mission Work Teams – Other mission work teams have assisted with projects our Haitian staff have not had the time to do. A number of repairs and upgrades at our school were accomplished by a team led the daughter and nephew of Dave Marshall, now deceased. In 1996, during his time as Double Harvest’s Director, he established the school with two classes of 30 students each. (Now with 500 students, Pre-School – Grade 13) Upon his death in early 2017, a fund was created in his name for the purpose of doing much needed repairs of the school’s buildings. Sponsors of these students ($45/month/student) will be gratified that, not only do their students receive a good education and spiritual grounding, but that they also enjoy decent facilities in which to pursue their education.
Another team, “A Greater Tomorrow”, began the renovation of one of our larger buildings for the church that presently meets on our school campus. An agreement was reached between our board and the leadership of Eglise Baptiste Evangelique to use the building as their worship center. While independent, we value our relationship and the church’s impact on our staff and surrounding community.