February 16, 2019
Dear friends of Haiti,
If you have been watching the news out of Haiti you will know that there have been major demonstrations, acts of violence, and looting in Port au Prince and other locations. Many main roadways have been blocked, businesses are closed, and some report an eerie silence as streets in some areas are empty. This is the third major protest in the last 8 months. The issues concern increasing inflation, a devaluation of the gourde (now 74 to the USD), proposed rate hikes in gas and oil prices, government corruption around funds from PetroCaribe, and a general discontent with the current administration. Protestors are calling for President Jovenal Moise to step down. He has issued a statement refusing protestor demands.
The US State Department has raised its travel warning to a Level 4 – a “Do not travel” advisory - and has recommended the evacuation of certain personnel and their families.
United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) has advised against all volunteer travel until things are stable again. Several teams, in-country during the demonstrations, have had to be airlifted to the airport. We have also received reports of essentials, such as food and water, becoming increasingly scarce. At this point the situation is critical.
While much of this is happening in major cities and towns and along main arteries of transportation, there is a ripple effect that reaches into the provinces and rural areas as well. The ability to send or receive supplies, to buy or sell at markets, is compromised; as is the general, essential, exchange between the rural areas and the cities. In short, everyone is affected, everyone suffers.
Wendy and I were scheduled to travel to Haiti on the 24th with a team from North Carolina. Understandably, they are rescheduling. There are also teams scheduled for the end of March, April, possibly May, and July. We will continue to monitor the situation with our contacts at the Guest House and on the ground and provide updates. As always, team safety is the first priority.
We can pray for the people of Haiti, and for their leadership to do the right thing. We can also seek to work, and advocate, for the rights of all people, and for a more fair and equitable sharing of resources in Haiti and other places where people struggle for basic necessities and rights.
This also underscores the importance of groups like Mountains of Hope, which work in areas where there is no social safety net, where basic services are not readily available, and where people’s livelihoods are subject to the vagaries of the weather.
Despite all of this, there is still much to be thankful for. There has been a great deal happening both in Furcy and with Mountains of Hope. In a short time we will be sending out a newsletter highlighting all that is going on.
We are coming up on 15 years of mission and ministry in the Furcy community and beyond. It is hard to believe it has been that long. What has happened over the years has been amazing and we thank you all for any, and all, of the ways you have been a part of and supported this mission. Together we have come to know new friends, watched children grow, celebrated births and weddings, mourned the loss of friends. We have been a part of each other’s lives through hurricanes, droughts, manifestations, and an earthquake. We have worshipped together, played together, worked together, shared meals, laughed and cried. So many memories. This is truly what mission is about.
We know that God will again see the people of Haiti through this time. Meanwhile, we will continue to work together for the good of the greater Furcy community and be full of hope and promise for the future.
May God bless us in our mission together.
Tom and Wendy