How the crisis in Haiti is affecting us: Update #2
We re-opened school on Oct 14th. As the week progressed however, it became evident that our teachers and students were under stress. Stories of attacks against schools/teachers/ students and rumors that such a thing could happen in our own area had everyone on edge. This past Tuesday, we made the decision to close school again, this time indefinitely. Only a few hours later, a rumor broke out in our community that a group from a nearby area was on its way to wreak havoc at our school because we continued to function. Thankfully, the rumor turned out not to be true, but it caused quite a bit of panic among parents and our school staff.
Though the kids have not come to class since Tuesday, we are touched to see the motivation and hard work of our teachers and staff. They worked for the rest of the week preparing packets of homework (4 weeks worth!) that the kids can do at their homes. Today, they held a parents meeting where they explained the approach to the parents and handed out the assignments.
A story: Last Saturday, we decided to take a risk on the road to go look for gas. Petion and Wenson went in the pick-up with some gas cans. They encountered barricade after barricade on the road. The protesters were not violent, but would let no one pass unless they paid. When the guys got to a community not far from Port-au-Prince, however, they were very sobered by what they saw. (Our friend who works in that same area said it looks like a war-zone.) They could not continue in the vehicle. So Petion stayed with the truck, while Wenson took a motorcycle through that town (the only way to get past the barricades) to the next town, where he was finally able to find some fuel to put in the gas cans.
Our school director, Almaïs, also risked the road that day to see if he could finally get down to see his family, who live just south of Port-au-Prince. He sent this picture of one of the barricades across the road:
Praise God, Almaïs made it safely to his family, and Petion and Wenson returned safely to the Plateau with some fuel.
Thanks to wonderful friends at MAF, a plane was able to land today, bringing a few important items from the grocery store, as well as some supplies we had in the MFI mailroom in Port-au-Prince! We are certainly thankful for the airstrip!
DDL has been setting up, painting, and organizing a depot where they keep tools...
...as well as caring for two different reforestation plots.
This week, an angry mob attacked our bank in Gonaïves. It is now closed. The situation was complicated enough to begin with, since the bank had put a limit on withdrawals to $200US per account per day. In fact, cash in general is becoming yet one more thing that is difficult to get in the country.
With no access to the bank, we have no access to cash. With no cash, we cannot pay our employees, nor can we be assured for very long of cash on hand to purchase food and supplies necessary to function as an organization.
This has put a very heavy decision before us: Are we going to be able to continue functioning? Or will we be forced to reduce our staff and close our departments until further notice. And this is not us alone. Countrywide, one business or organization after another has been forced to reduce staff, close temporarily, or even close permanently. The country is crippled. People just cannot function. Please pray for us as we keep tabs on the situation and make a final decision this coming Wednesday.
It has been difficult, friends, as I am sure you can imagine. But, there is good news too!
Regardless of what we decide on Wednesday, the girls' program headed up by Josiane and the boys' program headed up by Williamso will continue. Despite challenges--such as lack of supplies and resources--they both have made decisions to push ahead and continue investing in the girls and boys from our area.
Williamso and his staff began this past Saturday:
Josiane and her team have been working hard to prepare for opening on November 2. So we look forward to sharing more stories of life change from this year's fòmasyon!