Gang Violence, Covid, and a Cancelled Constitutional Referendum
Just in case you missed the documentary, Oasis of Hope, all you have to do is click here to watch it and learn more about who All Things New is and what we do. You also get to see how big the kids have gotten!
I know that this is a long title for a blog, but the past few weeks have seen the political and social environment in Haiti take even another step down. Here is what has happened just in the past 2 weeks:
- A gang war has broken out in Martissant (an area you pass on the way to ATN) to the point that the majority of people are evacuating their homes in this entire area of Port Au Prince. By a gang war I mean shootouts in the streets and fighting in the middle of the day with no help from the police.
- The constitutional referendum that was scheduled for a vote on June 27 has been postponed because of Covid and political pressure.
- Schools in Haiti were supposed to go through July and they have been cancelled for the rest of the year.
- Americans have been the target of robberies and other crimes (Americans are often left alone for the most part) throughout Haiti.
- There has been a reported uptick in Covid cases and deaths, though this depends on who you ask and what day you ask them.
Elections are scheduled in Haiti for the fall and winter, and the hope is that when a new president is elected that things will start to calm down to some extent. The truth is, I cannot get a read on what is going on in the political system there nor can I figure out who the bad actors are compared to those who want what is good for the country.
What I do know is that things have only gotten progressively worse over the past 2 years since the 2-week lockdown of the entire country in February 2019 (also the last month we had a team down). After living through a pandemic and starting to come out on the other side of it, it is easy for us to understand what it is like to have a year basically taken from us because that was what 2020 was like.
When I think back about the last 2 years in Haiti, and even prior to that, it seems like so many people just lost those years.
- People who started businesses lost years of potential growth or profit.
- Children in school lost years of learning, some may never get them back.
- Kids were forced to stay in their home more, churches did not meet regularly, and the cost of consumer goods has increased more than I could fully communicate.
In this type of environment, it is easy to sit back and blame everything and everyone else. Blame it on Covid, blame it on political upheaval, blame it on social uprising and rioting, or anything else you can think of.
I do not want our kids or our organization to be stuck because of things outside of our control. I want them to learn english, I want us to move forward with computer coding initiatives, I want us to move forward with education/job searching/spiritual growth/church leadership/personal growth.
When things around you are hard, it takes a lot to rise above it. I cannot even imagine how discouraged our kids and employees in Haiti are. I have seen the discouragement of people in America after only 1 year, think about if it was still going on with very little hope of ending.
All of the things that I wrote in the beginning of this blog are true, and there are even worse stories and living conditions in the country than what I have communicated. But I am going to say something that might sound corny to an extent:
- These things cannot define us. They cannot define who we are and we cannot let them.
The truth is, I have allowed myself, at times, to be like Home Depot has been with the refrigerator I just bought. Sure, I bought it at the beginning of April and it was supposed to be here before May, and all Home Depot keeps telling me is that "Covid has caused delays," but it is really easy to blame other things for our own shortcomings.
My prayer is that GOD teaches us how to keep moving forward as an organization and as individuals without allowing excuses, no matter how valid they may be, to give us a reason to stop.
In conclusion, please pray for:
- The gang violence to subside.
- The political and social upheaval to go away.
- For schools to reopen.
- For Covid to not increase.
But also, in the midst of that, pray for our kids to not let these things define who they are. For them to rise above the incredible negative things that have happened in their country over the past few weeks, months, and years, and for them to be more than conquerors. For them to work and for us to help them in whatever way we can become the men and women they were created to be.