No Boundaries: Highlights From Our Trip to Haiti During Political Turmoil
Note from the Founder:
We have returned from our trip to Haiti in February! We spent 10 days in Montrouis to follow up with our communities, provide updates on progress and opportunities, and host a leadership training. With the political occurrences in Haiti during our stay, we were faced with many challenges, but we were able to overcome them. In the month of February, many Haitian citizens took the streets to protest and demonstrate against accusations of Haitian officials. Violent demonstrations were evident across the country, especially the capital, Port Au Prince.
During our visit, we were accompanied by Pastor Lafayette White and his wife, Rolanda White, from our partner organization, Reset Faith Church. We were glad to have them present, thankful for the many donations from their organization and its members, and the communities were happy to welcome them as well.
The first weekend we arrived in Haiti in February (8th-10th), we met with the two communities from September of last year, Sonyen and Souchato and we met with a new community, Deluge. Prior to working with Deluge, we worked with the community of Grandmatin. Grandmatin made the decision to no longer work with our organization, although we are disheartened that we will no longer be able to work with the community. Nonetheless, we were introduced to Deluge by our Haiti Liaison, Frandler Polynice, a community in which he resides.
Our time in Montrouis was blessed. We were able to provide the communities with updates about the progress of the organization, present opportunities for community members, and we were able to learn more about the communities we serve. For example, we discovered that our initial approach to the clean water initiative was not the most suitable approach. We assumed that bio-sand filters could be the solution for clean drinking water, but we learned that the initiative should be approached at the root, with the resources the communities already have. I thank the communities who educated us on a feasible approach that involves a piping system, a purification system, and water pumps. Now that we have this information, we can work on a different approach to providing clean drinking water in our communities.
In addition, we were able to hold a leadership training on February 13th with the community leaders and leaders selected under them to participate in projects and activities. There were 13 leaders present at the meeting and we were able to cover topics such as the significance and understanding of self-sufficiency, community goals, accountability, personal skills and strategy. Leaders were able to share and discuss their ideas on the topics. The leadership meeting was a success, but incomplete, and so we planned to hold a follow-up meeting later in the month.
The Whites were scheduled to fly out on February 15th from Haiti. Despite the political climate, we set out for the Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port Au Prince, which is an hour drive from Montrouis. The three of us set off by motorcycles with our luggage strapped to the back of each. Our drivers were three young Haitian men who did not speak English, but were informed in advance of our destination. At approximately 10 am that morning, we attempted to make our way to Port Au Prince. When leaving the Montrouis area, we were stopped by barricades made of trees, scrap metal and outraged protesters.
We were not able to speak the language, but from the body language of the people, their facial expressions and actions to prevent us from getting through, we knew they did not intend to let us pass. The young Haitian men tried conversing with the leader and the people to try to convince them to let us through, but they would not. Additional motorcyclists and drivers that desired to get past the Montrouis area were stopped as well. We were not able to make it through that day, and the Whites were not able to catch their flight.
Fortunately, the Whites were able to reschedule their flight for the next day. The next day we began at 4 am, to make it through the barricades, this time with a police escort, and the grace of God. We made it past the first barricade we were not able to get past the day before, and although we were faced with additional barricades along the way, we were able to get through. Barricades on the journey to Port Au Prince included large tree trunks, rocks, scrap metal, etc. and some even included men who were asking for money for passage. Our ride was long and challenging, but we were able to make it, and the Whites were able to catch their flight back to the U.S.
I stayed an additional 10 days in the capital, and unfortunately, due to the ongoing protesting and demonstrations, I was not able to make it back to the Montrouis for the follow-up leadership training.
Despite the political controversy during the month of February, we consider our trip to have been a success and blessing. We were able to learn from our communities, which was one of our main goals, hold a leadership training and establish relationships with the communities we serve.
Speaking personally, I want to express that the occurrences in Haiti in February have prompted me even more to serve our communities in Haiti. No barricades, challenges, or political system will keep me from continuing to serve our communities, and I look forward to the many opportunities and divine connections that will help us accomplish our mission this year and the years to come.