Haiti these days

Haiti these days
It’s hard to write about Haiti these days.
It’s hard to tell the stories – they are hard stories, terrifying stories.
Stories of burnt bodies – bodies of men and women, just like you and I.
Men and woman, going about their business, not bothering anyone, getting on a bus in the morning and being burnt alive in that bus.
Who knows?
Wrong place, wrong time?
A gang leader inflicting terror on the population?
It’s hard to talk about the mother of three kids, that went to the market last week and got killed on her way home.
She was in the tap tap (local transportation), the bandits stopped it. They robbed the passengers, trampled on the vegetables they were bringing home.
The mother of three, had a bag of rice.
They opened it, emptied it out and stomped all over it.
She cried out- “O Jesus, I have three kids, what will I give them to eat?”.
They shot her dead.
It’s hard to talk about the school children wearing helmets to school, wearing helmets inside the classroom, in the hope of protecting themselves from stray bullets.
Hard to talk about the teacher that got hit by a bullet, in his neck, while he was in the classroom teaching.
Hard to talk about the small kids lying on the ground under the school benches while massive gunfire can be heard all around them.
Not easy to talk about all children that cannot go to school because it is too dangerous for them to go on the road.
In the first two weeks of March, the UN say that at least 277 people have been murdered and 101 kidnappings have been reported.
Since January, UN staff have counted 531 killings. You can be sure the actual numbers are even higher. They say that many of those shootings were random shootings, where snipers shot into crowds of people.
It is heart breaking to talk to staff that have no idea what to do.
They are surrounded by bandits and gun fire.
They are prisoners in their own homes. Sleeping under their beds while the bullets rain down outside.
One lady, was forced to leave her home in August.
She rented a house in Sept and now seven months later, she has to move again as she is once more surrounded by gunfire and gangs.
Another asked me yesterday for a mattress – when you leave your house, you can’t take things with you – just a few small things. She and her son are staying with a friend.
Chances are, once you leave your house, the bandits will come and steal everything.
This happened to two members of our staff. Everything taken. 30 years of hard work – all gone.
Three of our teachers were attacked while on their way to work.
Three brave women.
I get so angry when I see the suffering.
When I see people fleeing from their homes.
When I see the videos of homes burnt to the ground.
Angry when I see how good people are living in terror.
Angry when every conversation is about who has been kidnapped and who has been killed.
Angry when the gangs publish videos of their massive assault weapons,
when they send out videos of themselves killing or raping their victims.
Videos where they make fun of the police trying to establish some law and order.
Videos that show them counting hugh sums of money – money from kidnappings.
A good friend of ours was kidnapped February 2nd. She was one of the founding doctors in our hospital.
We have to presume she is dead, as there has been no contact with her.
Many that are kidnapped are badly treated.
Others are not.
All are traumatized.
How not to be?
It’s hard to write about Haiti these days.
We hope for better days.
We do what we can to be there for those we meet
and we do our best to keep all our programs going.
The children and young people do well in our care and they give us the strength to face every day.
They themselves, that have suffered immensely in their young lives, are always quick with a smile and a hug.
We watch them learn new skills – like self feeding, dressing, undressing, making juice, making dinner – life-giving moments for them and for us.
Food for our souls.
It’s hard to write about Haiti these days.
Somehow, I feel it would be worse not to write.

Gena, 23 March 2023