Dear Friends of Haiti,
In 1976, a quizzical absurdist playwright named Vaclav Havel agreed to be the spokesperson for a group calling for a more tolerant and open Czechoslovakia. After 13 years of official harassment and imprisonment, Vaclav Havel was elected President of the country. Our bibles often praise “a righteous king” though, in the reading of your Bible, you know that righteous kings are few and far between. But President Vaclav Havel was just one such person and Europe is the better. He proclaimed a Politic of Hope. Let’s see for ourselves: Hope is not the conviction that what we are doing will turn out well. It is our certainty that whatever we are doing makes sense, no matter how it turns out. Hope is doing the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do and we are happiest when we are doing it.”
Of course, this is a letter about Haiti. I wish I could be telling you that Haiti has found a righteous leader. I cannot. President Juvenal Moise is corrupt. He now hopes to turn Haiti’s democracy into a dictatorship. He has refused to leave office as his term has expired. He has dissolved the Legislative Branch and the streets have become havens for roaming gangs and criminals. Kidnappings have become the norm for the day. When I first dedicated my life to work for the children of Haiti, we were able to buy a house for an orphanage in a suburb with the lovely name – Cross of Flowers -— Croix des Bouquets. In the dead of night, the wire fencing protecting the campus was breached and criminals ransacked the buildings, assaulted the children, and injured the staff. It is too painful to say more.
You might ask why I tell you this – I might be discouraging you from further support – as I reveal such terrible news, repeated continuously throughout the country. You will read it anyway, so what is the risk! This why I keep Vaclav Havel close to my heart. What we do in Haiti is the right thing to do and we are happiest when we are doing it.
Our schools are open but, like schools in the United States, Haitian schools have struggled with the disease. “On line learning” is not an option there for the obvious reasons — there is undependable electrical power and fewer computers. We have three large schools now, In Mathieu, Jeanjean/Gressier and Compan. They are hardly thriving but they are open and the children are in class. Forging Futures now sends $5,000 a month to Haiti — not enough financial support to meet the needs, but given the pandemic and our inability to raise sufficient financial support this past year, it is what it is.
The Haitians for all practical purposes have abandoned social distancing and mask wearing. The working economy of a poor country demands an active mass mingling of laborers. Haiti has yet to receive its portion of the AstraZeneca vaccine simply because President Moise has not initiated any system to administer the vaccine.
A wise Haitian woman once taught me to say a prayer: Senye, Gen yon gwo dyab ki rele Dekourajman. Nou mande w’voye l’ ale paske l’ap nwi nou. It means: There is a big devil called Discouragement. We ask you to send him away because he is annoying us.