“Violent deaths are natural here. He died (as do all Haitians ) of his environment.”-Graham Greene
Author Graham Greene offered the above quotation in the fourth chapter of his novel The Comedians. Greene had visited Haiti in 1964 and centered the novel smack-dab in the midst of the terrible lifelong presidency of Robert “Papa Doc” Duvalier and his thuggish police force, Tonton Macoute (bogey men). They were a brutal paramilitary force that drove around in pickup trucks with heavy clubs and machetes. They reigned supreme in Haiti from 1961-1986. The novel is partly tragic and partly comedic. Mr. Brown, an American who owns the upscale Hotel Trianon in Port au Prince, discovers — to his dismay — the dead body of governmental minister, Philipot, in the hotel swimming pool. He inquires of a policeman who it is, how did he die and what do we do next? The policeman assures him not to worry. Hence the above quotation.
How is Haiti today, November 2019? Haiti is in chaos and probably in a free fall of violence. Violence is no stranger to Haitians. The significant majority of Haitians are held captive in a vice of poverty. That is not new news for any informed supporter of Forging Futures. What is new, however, and dangerously tragic is the pervasive escalation of the violence. Haiti has cycled in and out of violence for as long as she has been a Republic, but conditions are dire and, quite frankly, apocalyptic.
There is no fuel. There is no gasoline. There is dangerously little food. There is no support system. There is chaos. There is governmental complicity and inaction. There are barricades everywhere. Trucks are overturned, blocking access to markets. Robbery is rampant. Hospitals are struggling to stay operational. Garbage is strewn across neighborhoods. Schools across the nation are closed or closing. Reports from the ground share, “You cannot drive (if you even had gas) five minutes before a road block and a hold up. God help you if you cannot or will not pay the price they are demanding.” There is little prospect for any intervention on the part of the United States given our political climate at the moment. A perfect storm of misery.
What is the status of our schools and communities in Leogane, Mathieu, Jeanjean and the schools in the mountains? Our largest school, Saint Mathieu, is closed. It is too dangerous for children and parents to venture out. The schools in Jeanjean and the mountains are open since they are in remote regions and judged to be safer. Our faculty and staff at Mathieu are at home and quite unwilling to venture out. Better safe than sorry.
The question that remains: Is there Hope? Since we wire our financial assistance to Port au Prince and then to Leogane, Reginald Valliere is able to safely receive the $7,000 monthly aid and pay the teachers. That aid is more critical now, if for no other reason than the obvious: Haiti does not need one more person without resources who can be swept into this chaos.
We must do the right thing for the right reason at the right time because it is the right thing to do. The Haitians ask only one thing. Priye pou Ayiti. Priye pou n’. Souple, pa bliye n. N renmen n’ toujou. Pray for Haiti. Pray for us. Please do not forget us. We love you always.
Read more about what’s happening in Haiti and see images in the New York Times article, “‘There Is No Hope’: Crisis Pushes Haiti to Brink of Collapse.“