Last week we shared a bit of Mrs. R's story. Over this next week, I'd like to broaden that perspective a bit and give you a few short glimpses into how the combination of political upheaval, gang violence, inflation, drought and pests are affecting others in our community. Please be aware the translations are not word for word, but trying to communicate what was said as simply as possible in English.
Mrs. O is a widow, mother of six adult children, and guardian of a 13-year old nephew. She has worked excruciatingly hard all her life. She shares here a little bit about the gardens.
Long ago we would plant and we would have a harvest. We planted all kinds of things. We grew it all. But now the gardens don't provide anything. You may be able to get enough just for replanting. The caterpillars don't give the gardens a chance. You used to be able to plant your garden and the caterpillars wouldn't eat it all. But now you plant and you have to fight to just get a little bit to replant. But there isn't enough that if you had a problem you could get 3-4 donkey loads to sell. That doesn't happen anymore. That was long ago. But for now, life is very hard. Sometimes even school children - you want to be able to pay their tuition but you just don't see how. Life has become so expensive. You get to the market and even if you had a fistful of money you can't buy enough food to last a week. You see how life has become very hard for us?
Mrs. W used to go to a town called Pont-Sonde each week to buy fresh produce that she would resell in the market in Anse-Rouge. One week, she got to the city of Gonaives and felt she should buy there that week instead of going further. Below she tells the story of what happened to the women who continued on. (Warning: potentially disturbing content)
When I got to Gonaives, I felt I shouldn't continue on to Pont-Sonde. The other ladies who continued on, when they got to Croix-Perisse, [the gang] made them get down and pay them. The ones who could pay, they had them pass through a corridor and leave. Those who couldn't pay, the gang took them into a little "forest." They made them give them all the money they had on them, and then they raped them. After they raped them, those who were better off they had them call their families to send money so they would be released. Those who couldn't pay, they beat them and then they released them after 5 days.
Just a few weeks after this incident Mrs. W went to Pont-Sonde, having been assured that the police had secured the area. While she was buying some produce, thieves cut her bag and took all her money. She, like Mrs. R, buys her stock with funds from a micro-credit group. So, not only had she lost her ability to buy any produce that day and therefore make any profit that week, she had lost borrowed money, which she still had to pay back.
Miss J is our bookkeeper. She shared a bit of her perspective from the finance office. Here is a small clip of that conversation...
Our country has come to produce [no food]. We don't get any rain. And it's because of the insecurity too, because there are areas where people could produce food but the insecurity makes them unable to work [in their gardens].* We are really in trouble in our country. I can say as the one who works in the finance office, this really affects the finances. Especially today, so many people share with me how this affects them - how what they have simply isn't enough. But it's a problem due to the insecurity. Only God knows what He will do for us one day. For now, things are really difficult for us.
* Gangs have taken over parts of the country that used to produce the most food. People are afraid to go work in their gardens or are discouraged from doing so because it will all be stolen anyway.
Yes, the picture is dark and dismal. And I hope to share more over the next week from the perspective of others in our community. But please remember... a broken world should not surprise us. We know it is broken. We know we are broken. And we know why. We cannot change Haiti, but we can hold the Light high in our little corner. And we can pray that God would use the many little lights shining in every corner of Haiti to transform lives and to bring positive change and stability to this country. Thank you for standing with us. Thank you for praying with us.