We approach the end of another year, and, as always, there is need for reflection. What are we doing? How much are we helping? Might we be hurting? All the questions common to good, conscientious development groups.
On top of evaluating our work and focus, we look back on the situation that our partners in Haiti have had to endure. It is never easy there. Some times are worse than others.
In 2015 Haiti has struggled with drought. This is a problem that is becoming more common, especially for the leeward side of the island which is where La Gonave lies. This was a long summer where the rains did not come in May like history would cause one to expect. In fact, it was not until late summer and early fall before they had anywhere near sufficient rain. Water has been scarce and the crops did not produce nearly enough to aid in the food insecurity which is a daily problem for the island. This results in needing enhanced security when delivering rice shipments for our lunch program. People are hungry. People who often appear to have enough to eat when the rains come and the roads are open.
The political situation on the mainland has been more difficult than normal. The president of the last 5 years has not called for elections and the country has been thrown into a state of unrest. Roads into Port au Prince have been blocked for weeks at a time. Violence and civil protesting has made it difficult for people from La Gonave to get into the urban areas to buy the supplies they are dependent on to survive.
It has been an unusually hard year.
In talking to a Haitian friend who lives in Atlanta he asked if we had still been able to get down there. I replied that we had, but that it had been a hard year. He said, full of appreciation, “It takes people who are dedicated and have courage to continue to work where there is such pain and suffering.” But, the truth for us is that the people of La Gonave are our friends and our partners. We are not there because it is easy, or because there are simple answers that make us look like saviours, able to rescue those in need.
We are a ministry of presence. No matter how difficult it gets, our mission is to be with the people and speak up for their right to justice.
In Proverbs it says:
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” – Proverbs 31:8-9 (NIV)
We have to work harder when times are difficult. And, in spite of the struggles and insecurities, we have seen progress. Children who are thriving at school because they get a hot lunch everyday. Young babies and toddlers who, because of our Medika Mamba program, are overcoming malnutrition and the secondary infections caused by soil-transmitted worms and becoming healthy, happy children. Ready for school when they are old enough. The development of new micro-finance programs at a time when people need them the most. A growing maternal health program that has become the talk of the island. Dr. LaPointe told us in October that everywhere they go he is asked, “When is the program coming to our village.” He is proud of the work they are doing and eager to talk about expanding the program. Progress continues in the face of political and natural difficulties.
It is times like this that we also reflect on how we cannot do this alone. We become more aware of how much we appreciate our donors, our partners, our families and friends who support the work we engage in, side by side with our Haitian partners. In that case 2015 has been a wonderful year. A year of bounty when it comes to the support and help we received from all of you.
The partnership has pulled together and worked in our spare (sic) time to reorganize and rethink how we operate here in the US. In January you will see a new look for La Gonave Haiti Partners. We hope it reflects our appreciation and dedication to the wonderful donors and organizations who support our work and will give us better ways to communicate both the scope and progress of our work and our thanks for your part in this effort.
Our friends in Haiti only have us as a vehicle to express their gratitude for your generosity. They are so appreciative and it is years like this that we remember why we say, “Nobody deserves to feel alone in the face of such a struggle.” Some years it may be that all we can do is be present. This has not been one of those years, although we have had to remember that during a difficult time.
As the year ends we, along with our Haitian partners, send blessings to all of you during this season of light and transformation. We can only hope that this blessing of light and transformation will one day rain down on our friends in Haiti. We are all God’s people.
For the Partners