The Permanent Earthquake in Haiti
Haiti returned to our evening news as media reported the kidnapping of 17 U.S. and Canadian missionaries from the organization “Christian Aid Ministries.” At the date of this article, the missionaries continue held captive by the 400 Mawoso gang. CBN News, a Christian media related to Christian Aid Ministries, reported that the gang recently released Pastor Jean-Pierre Ferrer Michel and Norman Wiwner, Haitian collaborators with the organization. Their relatives paid $250,000 last week for their release, in addition to the $300,000 already delivered by the relatives. There is no further news regarding the ransom demanded by the gang for the rest of the delegation. The band demanded the ransom of $1 million for each person.
We urge our churches to continue our fervent prayer for the return of these missionaries to their families and loved ones. I cannot imagine their pain in times like these, especially when we think they are brothers and sisters who have wanted to selflessly collaborate in Haiti. Our Global Ministries family lived a similar pain years ago. We still mourn the terrible loss along with our brothers and sisters from the National Spiritual Council of Churches of Haiti (CONASPEH), one of our Partners in the country. Demetress Rudward Villier, a 12-year-old boy and the youngest son of the late Bishop Patrick Villier and Bishop Francoise Villier, CONASPEH leaders, was kidnapped by armed individuals. The gang broke into their home during the night of March 23, 2013. There were negotiations with the captors, but sadly, he was killed on Thursday, March 28.
Nonetheless, it is crucial to say that kidnapping in Haiti is not new. This issue has long plagued Haiti, which has the highest rate of kidnapping per capita of any country in the world. U.S. and Canadian lives matter. Yet thousands of Haitians have been and continue to be tortured, killed, raped, extorted, and kidnapped daily. Nearly 95 percent of kidnappings in Haiti since 2018 have targeted Haitian citizens. Political parties, authorities, the political elite, and businesses have nurtured the gangs and fomented the kidnapping crisis. The kidnapping business is, in fact, supported by the convergence of interests of the vast majority of Haitians are obviously not taken into account. Now the gangs cannot be tamed, and they are everywhere. The gangs need ammunition, weapons, and ransom money to function. Clearly, all those resources flow through international channels. As a representative from the Christian Aid Ministries stated, “This time of difficulty reminds us of the ongoing suffering of millions of Haitians. While our workers chose to serve in Haiti, our Haitian friends endure crisis after crisis, continual violence, and economic hardship.” https://truthout.org/articles/its-not-just-the-missionaries-there-were-782-kidnappings-in-haiti-this-year/
House of Hope, our other Partner in Haiti, reported strikes by unions to protest against generalized insecurity, kidnapping, the high cost of living, and the scarcity of fuel. Polycarpe Joseph, Executive Director, reported that “at House of Hope, we continue into our ministry despite the fear of being kidnapped, the stress and worry of the next day. We have started working in our school since September 11. We have 196 children out of 237 registered. At our vocational school, we have 45 youth and 37 elderly people as students. We manage to function the best we can. We are constantly dealing with the issue of gang violence and threats of kidnapping. We even have been near several threats of neighbors in Carrefour, our commune here in Port-au-Prince.“
Global Ministries continues providing accompaniment to victims of the earthquake that affected Haiti since August 14. Our Partners support families in the areas of the Nippes and the Grand’anse. They have provided food, water, medicines, and clothing for almost 400 families, or approximately 2,500 persons. In addition, they also provided emotional and pastoral accompaniment by counseling, prayer groups, and meetings in the most affected areas. Thanks to funds provided by the Week of Compassion, Global H.O.P.E., and Global Ministries, we continue walking alongside our brothers and sisters in Haiti.
One question always remains. How do we accompany the permanent earthquake in Haiti? What about the root causes of injustice in a country that broke its chains from imperial rule in 1804, with pioneering independence and social justice project? Quoting the article cited above: “Two Haitian proverbs can speak to the kidnapping issue in Haiti: “Grangou nan vant pa dous” (“Hunger in the belly is not an easy thing”), and “Jou mwen leve a se li mwen wè” (“The day I get up, that is the only day I can count on“). “It is crucial to analyze the context of social inequality and structural violence. The structural violence in terms of lack of education, access to health care, lack of good sovereignty (to name but a few) must be addressed.” Our Partners are very much into deepening those causes and breaking the chains of injustice by providing education and self-sustainable projects for the communities and advocating for peace with justice with other non-governmental organizations in the country.
To support our partners, CONASPEH and House of Hope, in their ministries of accompaniment to victims and families, you can make a financial contribution through Global Ministries. Information on sending gifts to Global Ministries online, by check in the mail, or by phone can be found at www.globalministries.org/give.