Social Unrest in Haiti: The Impact on the NPH Family and the Nation
NPHI President Reinhart Koehler shares his thoughts on the current unrest in Haiti and the impact on NPH services and the population
September 30, 2019 - Haiti
I am writing you today to share with you our deep concern for our NPH Family in Haiti and for the people of Haiti in general. Over the last year and a half, living conditions in Haiti have deteriorated resulting in prolonged and serious social unrest, protests, road blocks, and generalized violence. Yet, the international media has paid scant attention to a dire situation that is costing hundreds of lives and putting in jeopardy an entire nation.
This letter is not to explain the reasons for the protests, though I venture to say that the dire circumstances in which the Haitian people live would create the same protests in any other country. This message is to highlight the consequences of the upheaval especially for our children, staff, and volunteers.
The road blocks create a situation that results in shortages of fuel, food, and other essential supplies. At Kay St. Helene, we have food for seven more days. The hope is to be able to resupply the home when things are calmer and we can get through to the home; however, it is very difficult even to find food to purchase. And even if we find food and try to bring it to our children’s home there is always the possibility that with so many suffering hunger, a group will stop the vehicle and take the food.
Usually, we supply our home with water using water trucks. The trucks now cannot make it to the home. So our children walk three miles to a fountain to fetch water in gallon jugs and buckets and haul the water walking back to the home again three miles. The water needs to be treated with purification tablets which are now in short supply.
The only vehicles that can make it through the road blocks (but not always) are ambulances of which we own two. We use them to carry out the most urgent logistics moving essential staff to and from the hospital, and we do hope to acquire an additional ambulance to respond to the many situations requiring urgent assistance. The banks have not opened for three days and we do not know when we might have access to funds. So basically it is extremely difficult to find essential supplies; and the few we find are sold at a premium. Yet, we do not have enough cash to purchase the supplies because the banks are closed.
There are many other dreadful situations such as the inability to attend to medical emergencies, the piling up of unsanitary garbage, dead bodies in the morgue without space for additional bodies, no schooling, and loss of income due to inoperability of income producing programs. This situation holds true for every individual living in Haiti and any organization trying to fulfill its mission. Many of the Hermanos and Hermanas Mayores [former NPH children] of the NPFS Family have approached us for help to support them and their families for all the same reasons.
Finally, the safety of everyone is a top priority, yet many of our staff expose themselves to danger because otherwise the harmful consequences to the children of NPFS and the patients of St. Damien would be immeasurable. We urgently need to increase the security services to our facilities to protect the children, patients, and staff as the desperation among the population grows with every day that the chaos continues.
We do what we can and yes, we need your prayers and help to respond to these extraordinary circumstances. On the day I am writing this message, the Catholic Church celebrates the three Archangels Michael, Rafael and Gabriel. According to the book of Revelation, the Archangel Michael leads God’s armies to final victory over the forces of evil. We need such special help to defeat the forces of evil that have created such a desperate situation for the people of Haiti. We need to continue our mission every day a step at a time because as Fr. Rick Frechette says:
“We all must hold ourselves to another very high standard: that we respond to the very worst of what we see and live through, with the very best of what is within us. Only this stops the deadly spread of hatred and revenge. We all need to do this, before it is too late.”
To help support the NPH family and its services during this time of crisis, please contact your local NPH office at nph.org.
To learn more about the current social unrest and the impact on the NPH Haiti family, read the thoughts of our Director of Special Needs at NPH Haiti, Gena Heraty: “Happy 50th Birthday in Haiti".