Thoughts on the current situation in Haiti
At Haiti Partners we remain deeply concerned about the current situation in Haiti. The assassination of Haiti’s president, Jovenel Moïse, on July 7 has created a dangerous power vacuum in the country at a time when political unrest is already at a fever pitch. In addition to the many chronic challenges Haiti’s people face – extreme poverty, hunger, natural disasters, and a lack of the basic infrastructure that developed countries take for granted – many people from all walks of life now have to live in fear of being kidnapped or having their homes burned down as a result of widespread gang violence. To make matters even worse, the COVID-19 Delta variant has taken hold and is spreading rapidly, overwhelming hospitals and killing thousands, with little hope of vaccinations beginning anytime soon.
While the president’s assassination is an historic political tragedy, viewed from a long-term perspective, sadly, it fits neatly among the major events of Haitian history. Born out of slavery, where the most horrific abuses of power were normalized, Haiti still struggles to break the chains of those who continue to control and exploit her. Through colonization, slavery and the revolution, subsequent international economic and political discrimination, military occupation, and the chronic destructive leadership of dictators and oligarchs, Haiti’s history has been marred by violence. Peaceful transitions of power in Haiti are the exception, not the rule. Still today Haiti remains the Western hemisphere’s economically poorest and most unequal country.
We believe that the best, most lasting solutions to Haiti’s problems come from within. This leads us back to the idea of Konbit. Konbit was the collaborative labor system that people who freed themselves from slavery used to survive and build their lives and communities. With Konbit, the emphasis is on partnership and working together as opposed to the strong using others for their gain. We believe that the spirit of Konbit should inspire a new approach to leadership in Haiti and beyond, leadership based in service to others, inclusion, and respect. This is what we aim for each day with our students and staff at the Children’s Academy and Partner Schools, and what underlies our efforts in developing a school-based community development model.
The current situation has, once again raised the question of international aid and its role in Haiti. As a small non-profit we believe – once again harkening back to the notion of Konbit – that the most successful aid projects must tap into and complement local, existing resources in Haiti. Our Haitian sisters and brothers must be integrally involved from the beginning, participating fully in the decisions that will affect their lives.
Since before the 2010 earthquake, this has been Haiti Partners’ approach and, thanks to the generous support of so many individuals and organizations along the way, we are proud of what we’ve accomplished together: from completely rebuilding two schoo
ls destroyed by the earthquake, to helping rebuild four others, to building and beginning our own school – The Children’s Academy – to providing an empowering education to thousands of children in the 12 short years since we were founded.
As the Children’s Academy prepares to offer its ninth year of school this fall, we want to share a quote from Dieufort Belizaire, a father of two students at The Children’s Academy
What’s happening here in our communities in these mountains is beyond what I could have ever imagined. When my wife died back in 2009, I had no idea how my children were going to get an education. Here we are in 2021: my children are thriving at The Children’s Academy and our community is accomplishing things together like home gardens that I would’ve never dreamed possible.
Change like this can only result from authentic partnership, the kind of partnership that stems from the spirit of Konbit. It is this kind of partnership we seek as we work toward our mission: to help Haitians change Haiti through education. We are grateful for your support, participation and partnership in this effort, and we hope you’ll keep Haiti close to your heart as we all work through this difficult time together.
- Video: Haiti history, “Konbit” & Haiti Partners’ ethic of partnership
- Christian Science Monitor: What helps Haiti? ‘Working with’ versus ‘doing for.’
- Newlines: The Death of Haiti’s President Summons Ghosts Old and New
- The Borgen project: The top 10 most important facts about poverty in Haiti
- Haiti Liberté: The Story of How Colombian Mercenaries Machine-Gunned Jovenel Moïse, Then Were Captured or Killed