Although there is a return to normalcy in Haiti following last year’s protests and national lockdown, not much is resolved. While children are able to go to school again, and business and community life is back to its usual rhythm, there is a general sense of insecurity mostly the result from happenings in Port au Prince. A good friend of mine was kidnapped last Wednesday, and after difficult negotiations with the kidnappers all night, ransom was paid and he was released. Most people, especially parents of school children, are terrorized by what is happening in Port au Prince. Fr. Rick’s hospital had a professional group come to give his staff a better understanding of the dynamics of kidnapping, how to best avoid it, what to do if you get taken, etc. The sessions were packed, which says a lot. Everyone is angry and breaking the carnival stands, especially university students, who demand security for the country and not a party.
Nonetheless here in Jeremie all is peaceful. The children are so motivated to be back in school that they are no longer complaining about the additional workload. Several months without school seemed to have shown them the importance of school and how lost they are without it.
But will the center hold? Let me quote Hugh Locke here from the Small Holders Farm Alliance: “The big underlying challenges here in Haiti, include a core level of poverty, inequality, lack of education, and deforestation-linked climate change that continue to weigh down the population and hold the country back. On top of this is layered a new era of detailed exposure of government corruption, serious food shortages that are leading to malnutrition, a 38 percent depreciation of the gourde against the US dollar in the past year, and questions around the future of state-subsidized fuel.
Standing in the temporarily calm center of this political storm is President Jovenel Moïse, now ruling by decree because scheduled legislative elections were not held last year. He has announced three major initiatives that include forming a “unity” government, adopting a new constitution and holding elections. How and if these are implemented represent three flashpoints with the potential to either mollify or exacerbate Haiti’s political storm.
|Partners In Health-supported University Hospital in Mirebalais.|
I am a resolute optimist about Haiti’s future, but I feel I can only share that optimism after first acknowledging the current reality. I shared some of my reasons for optimism in the recent Voices of Hope for Haiti’s Future. Let me add one more positive story to that collection with news that the University Hospital, operated by Partners in Health in Mirebalais, has just received global accreditation for meeting the highest international standards as a teaching institution.”