While millions of Americans slept peacefully in their beds on the night of Feb. 7, about 700 miles off the coast of Florida violent protests broke out in Haiti. For a month now, protestors have clashed with police forces.
At the heart of the conflict is the issue of corruption and money embezzlement within the Haitian government. In 2010, Haiti was rocked by enormous earthquakes that caused millions of dollars worth of damage to structures across the island.
In an effort to help Haiti rebuild, Venezuela gave them a loan. However, politicians have embezzled about $2 billion of it, according to VICE news. One activist from Haiti told a reporter that the protestors are asking ”where is my money actually, not yours, where is my money, because I am paying you to do this,” also according to VICE news.
The protestors are calling on President Jovenel Moïse to resign due to the fact that he received money from the loan before becoming president. He received the money in order to rebuild a road that was destroyed, but no work was ever done on it. He has said he will not resign which has only angered the protestors further.
Since the protest broke out, a multitude of protestors and police alike have been injured and some have even died. Mothers stand over their dead sons and grieve while others wait beside them in line for basic needs such as food, water and gasoline.
Sophomore Alison Tomamichel went on a mission trip to Haiti a few years ago. She said that there is something about it that stands out from anywhere else she had ever been.
“I’m not sure whether it’s the delicious food, the wonderful people, the beautiful landscapes, or the peoples intense faith in Christ,” Tomamichel said. “The people I have met in Haiti are some of the most kind, genuine, faith-filled, joyful, & hopeful individuals I have ever met.”
When asked about the current protests Tomamichel said she feels bad for Haiti.“The people and the country of Haiti have not had it easy, now or ever,” Tomamichel said. “My heart aches for them in this current crisis.”
Dr. Jerome Prinston was born in Haiti and ended up spending 20 years on the island as a missionary. Even now he tries to return to Haiti once or twice a year. As a result of that, he has many friends and family who are living on the island and are living through the protests. At the time this story is being written, he hasn’t planned a trip back to the island due to the protests. He says the situation currently plaguing the island is extremely sad and depressing.
“The people are still coming out of the last natural disaster,” Prinston said. “But this time it is a problem that has been fabricated by the government, which is very disappointing.”
Prinston says that Christians who want to help the nation can do so in many ways but the main way would be supporting missionaries that they trust there. This can be done not only through economic support, but also through prayer and encouragement. Talking to the missionaries and seeing what their needs are is one of the best ways Christians in the U.S. can help.
“It’s a very sad situation,” Prinston said. “He’s a church planter and he has a school and for the past two weeks he hasn’t been able to go to his office and get any work done because of what’s going on in the streets. It weighs a lot on my mind to know that the people are suffering and that there is something that could be done but it’s not happening.”