“Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil because of the son of man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.” (Luke 6:22, 23)
Hi! There has been a lot going on here in Haiti the last week. Last week Monday started as a day of protests by supporters of the police. The police themselves were on strike and several areas of the city; especially in the Carrefour area had burning tires and barricades. Vehicles attempting to go around the barricades risked having their windows smashed with rocks, thrown by the protesters. Motorcyclists who tried to go around the barricades were stopped by protesters and had their keys taken away. Workers from the Mayor of Port-au-Prince decided to go on strike at the cemetery, demanding payment of arrears of 6 months pay, and blocked entrance to funeral convoys trying to enter the cemetery. Families who wanted to bury their dead were forced to arrange passage with these striking workers. The striking workers used coffins as barricades and also smashed some.
Tuesday through Thursday were rainy days and I think God sent the rains to calm down the protesters! Workers removed 500,000 m3 of sediment/debris carried by the rain/flood waters on the streets of Port-au-Prince. 10 people died who were swept away by waters or killed in landslides and one person is missing. More than 7,600 families were affected by the damage from these rains. 3,818 homes were flooded in the neighbourhoods of Cite Soleil. 2,328 people affected were those who live in camps in the West district of the country. 62 homes were destroyed. In agricultural areas there have been substantial losses in terms of livestock being washed away, as well as crops of corn, beans, and bananas. Pray for those who will need to rebuild after these storms.
President Michel Martelly spent a couple of weeks in the United States for treatment of a pulmonary embolism. On release from the hospital he thanked God for his grace in preserving his life. It is good to hear this coming from the leader of the country. The Mayor of Delmas is organizing a week of prayer services at the Mayor of Delmas offices, and dedicates the country to the Lord. Pray for the leaders of Haiti as they deal with a lot of difficulties.
Last Tuesday a team of community health workers from the government came here and vaccinated children in our school program who were up to 9 years of age. The children received polio, measles and chicken pox vaccinations, as well as albendazole for worms. This is a major public health project for Haiti, and it is good to see the government at work. Pray for this massive vaccination campaign to vaccinate every child in Haiti.
Last Wednesday a team from Mission Services International came to do a medical clinic here at Coram Deo. They treated over 400 patients. This was a special team in that there were both foreign and Haitian medical personnel involved in the clinic. 3 Haitian nurses, did the intake (blood pressure, diabetes) exams, 3 Haitian doctors did the consultations, and the team from the Kentucky area were involved with giving injections and filling prescriptions. Haitian evangelists prayed with each patient before they went to the intake table and 55 people made decisions to follow the Lord. A contact list was made and we will pass this on to local churches in the neighbourhood to do follow-up contacts with these people. An American who writes children’s’ stories organized activities for the children and they had a lot of fun. The materials have been translated into the Creole language, so we hope to use them in our school program here. They also gave a gift of food to each patient and gave us a bag with a lot of different vegetable, fruit and a few flower seed packages too. We are going to give these seeds to Pastor Pierre to distribute to farmers in the Kenscoff mountain area. We give the Lord thanks for all the help that was provided at this medical clinic.
We get a Haitian newspaper delivered to the house and we all had a shock on Wednesday when we opened it and saw Johnny’s picture, along with a heading saying “Johnny Jean will be going in front of Uruguayan justice”. Johnny happens to have the same name as Johnny Jean, who was the victim of a sexual assault by members of the Uruguayan military. If you Google the name Johnny Jean there will be 3 pictures, one is our Johnny Jean, the next is a Brazilian UN general, and then the real Johnny Jean sitting with his lawyers. The article talked about how Johnny Jean would be testifying in Uruguay on May 10th. The Haitian people here were all concerned, thinking that UN soldiers might try to target Johnny on the streets and when Stephanie, Johnny’s niece, saw the picture she started to cry and thought that Johnny was in trouble. I wrote a letter to the editor, and the journalist who did the story, and the next day they printed a retraction and an apology. Pray for the real Johnny Jean as he goes to testify at the UN trial in Uruguay.
On Tuesday, Amos and a couple of the guys drove out to Love a Child where they picked up a donation of 25 boxes of Feed My Starving Children rice meals. This food donation will help us to continue to provide the school children with a meal at the end of the school day. We also got a surprise gift of a couple boxes of t-shirts. These t-shirts will now be the school uniform for the rest of the school year! It is neat how that every year a donation of shirts serves as our uniform. This year is special too that Coca Cola sponsored the event pictured on the shirts. You can look for photos of these shirts on my blog. We give the Lord thanks for food and a uniform for the students!
May 1 was a holiday here in Haiti, for agriculture and workers. To commemorate this day we purchased a mallard duck. His name is Daffy and he will now be Aflacs’ mate. The children put fresh water into a cuivette so that Daffy and Aflac can have a mini-pond. Everyone is excited to one day see baby ducklings waddling in the yard. While I have been typing this update one of Marie’s chicken’s just wandered into the room and it hopped onto my bed. The dog and I tried to chase it out of the room and Marie came into my room to help when she heard her chicken squawking. She told me that the hen is looking for someplace to lay an egg, and then carried her chicken outside.
Life is difficult here in Haiti for the poor. A man came to the house last week carrying a small baby. He told me that his wife had died in child birth and that he has been trying to look after the baby but is having difficulties. He has a job as a cement mason but since his wife died he hasn’t been able to work. Because he isn’t working he has no money to buy formula. The baby had been drinking sugar water for the last 4 days and was very jaundiced. He had already brought the baby to a children’s hospital and they wanted to hospitalize the baby, but the father would have had to stay with his baby. He doesn’t have anyone who can help look after his other 2 children and he ended up walking away from the hospital, and then someone told him about Coram Deo. He came here and we gave him some baby formula. I don’t know if this baby will survive but please keep this family in prayer.
Chrismanie, our cook, lives in the Bois Neuf district of Cite Soleil. Bois Neuf is one of the problem districts within Cite Soleil, and everyone living in that district lives uncomfortably. After the earthquake she moved into a refuge camp in Bois Neuf. She was given a temporary home. The gangs are starting to cause more problems in Cite Soleil and several weeks ago a director of a mission in Cite Soleil, who was also the director of a radio station, was killed when the vehicle he was driving was riddled with bullets in front of a school. The people in the area were angry and said that a couple of bandits from Bois Neuf were responsible. We happened to be in Cite Soleil doing a medical clinic with a team of Dr. Ed’s. We saw a group of people, both men and women walking, running and riding a tap-tap, and some were armed with machetes and sticks. It was weird in that they were everyday people and it was almost a party atmosphere. Later in the day we heard that 3 of these people had been killed by some of the bandits in Bois Neuf. The people in return were plotting revenge against Bois Neuf and Chrismanie was told that the camp would be burned down, as this was the area where the bandits were from. She took refuge with her children for a few days here at Coram Deo until things calmed down. We gave her some money to hire a carpenter to take down her temporary home and move it to an area where her sister-in-law lives. The police were even insulting the people of Bois Neuf. Chrismanie even heard it from policemen that the camp would be burned down and that the people of Bois Neuf were no good because they lived with bandits. 2 of Chrismanies’s oldest children were stopped by police and asked at gun point where Youseline’s (a girl friend of a bandit) house was. The children knew but were more scared of what the gang would do than telling the police where she lived. The president of the camp committee is a pastor and even he cannot live in Bois Neuf anymore. Rival gang members threatened to kill him because his wife is a nurse and they accused her of providing medical care to people wounded in gang fights between the rival communities.
There is a lot happening right now. I’ll update more in the next update. Have a good weekend!
Karen Bultje Coram Deo