David Draeger, a full-time mission volunteer serving the Methodist Church of Haiti (EMH), shares this report of present realities and future hopes for the country.
EMH Mission Volunteer Coordinator
February 26, 2022 | Port-au-Prince — Things remain largely unchanged in Haiti. There is still no president of the country, and no elections are currently planned. Travel is restricted to isolated areas of the country. Within certain zones, people can travel freely to the market and work, if they have a job. But travel from one area to another is nearly impossible.
Three coalitions of gangs control the roads at key intersections and pinch points like bridges. Shootings and kidnappings in these areas continue to happen on a frequent basis. The gangs outnumber and outgun the police and the army combined. There is no attempt to try and control the gangs at this point.
Currently, inflation is about 100% per year which means that the cost of living doubles every 12 months with no increase in income. Extreme poverty is everywhere and widespread starvation is lurking around every corner.
COVID is slowly increasing but, thank God, has not reached epidemic proportions yet.
The earthquakes, August 14, 2021, and two in January 2022 have been a major setback. Aid from foreign countries such as the U.S., Canada, England, Ireland, Switzerland, Chile, and Taiwan has been minimal. UMCOR has provided food, medical assistance, and shelter to those impacted by the tremors.
I am actively working on food distribution, medical aid, water projects (drilling wells and installing purification systems), administering school scholarships, and conducting worldwide fundraising.UMCOR has supported these water projects and a mobile medical clinic. Although I use care about when and where I travel, I have been able to go where I want when I want, I feel completely safe in God’s hands.
Still, all in all, the Haitian people remain stoic in their daily lives. Life goes on with births, baptisms, first day at school, confirmation classes, high school graduations, marriages, and inevitable death from many causes. Churches remain full every Sunday and at midweek Bible studies. The general population remains hopeful that tomorrow will be a better day and that their children will have a better life.
I live in a country surrounded by poverty, people without jobs, and the ruins of homes, schools, churches, and businesses destroyed by natural disasters. I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that the world is rapidly changing.
I once heard it said that there are three kinds of people in the world. There are people that make things happen. There are those that watch things happen. There are those that wonder what just happened. What kind of person are you? Please spend some significant time, prayer, and energy thinking about what mission work might look like in a post-pandemic/post-violence Haiti. Let’s prepare ourselves now to lead the world to Jesus Christ and not simply sit on the sidelines and watch the world go by.