First of all, I want to apologize if it seems like all we can write about is the riots here. It is true, that is all we are talking about but that is because it is consuming everything about our lives and ministry right now. In fact, right now, we are trying to figure out how to provide food and supplies to our employees and their families as it gets more and more difficult to find and more and more expensive to purchase. We have sent Lener into the local community to try to find enough food for 1-2 weeks for our kids and to find it without going to any of the big markets. We are opening things get back to normal quickly but we are planning as if they will not.
Also, I want to make sure everyone knows about our upcoming fundraiser on March 1 at Deerwood Country Club in Jacksonville. This is going to be a fun night and you will learn a lot about ATN, eat some really good Haitian food, hear a detailed story about one of our older boys and how he ended up with us, take part in a live auction, and so much more. Please make plans to attend “A Taste of Haiti“ and tell everyone you know! Click here to register.
Today is the 8th day of unrest in Haiti as people continue to take to the streets to show their displeasure at what is going on in Haiti. The last 3 blog posts have focused on some of the things that have been going wrong (click here, here, and here if you missed either blog) so today I want to focus on how these things are affecting our friends and many other Haitians.
The biggest negative affect can be seen in the skyrocketing cost of food and specifically staples of the Haitian diet. The value of the Haitian Gourde compared to the Dollar has dropped dramatically. I remember just over 5 years ago that we could exchange money at a 42 to 1 exchange rate. When we were here last in October, that rate had increased to around 70 to 1, but a mere 3 months later we can exchange currency on the street for anywhere between 82 and 85 to 1.
This sharp devaluation of Haitian currency has caused a new wave of poverty throughout Haiti. At the same time, as these marches and demonstrations continue, they are causing the average Haitian to lose what little income they may have had at their job (as Jessica’s blog explained yesterday). The bottom line is that it is important for the population to show their displeasure and make their voices heard, but they are doing it at the expense of the small levels of income they were making to begin with.
As these riots continue, it is important to realize that this is not just people taking to the streets to show their displeasure. It goes deeper than that. This is an attempt to hold the country hostage by both opposing political leaders and many in the general population so that change HAS to take place. Here are some of the things people are doing:
- All of the main roads leading in and out of Port are blocked by rocks, burning tires, concrete pillars, etc. People cannot come in and out of the capital city which means supplies also cannot come in and out.
- Only motorcycles are allowed to pass through many of the streets, and almost no public transportation is operating. When I say “allowed to pass” I mean that people are armed with rocks and guns and will destroy and kill people who try to get through.
- Gas and water distributors cannot move their products. If trucks carrying diesel or gas try to leave the docks they are attacked.
- There are burning cars and tires throughout Port Au Prince.
It seems like every hour there is a new report of roads being blocked, rocks being thrown, gunshots being fired, etc. We have not been scared where we are. If you have been here you know we are tucked back in a small community and we have been pretty shielded from everything. Many of our friends and employees are not so lucky. Many missionaries and foreign nationals have already evacuated more because of a lack of supplies than fear. Please be in prayer for this country, for our family, for the kids, and for All Things New.
Finally, it is important to know that these blogs are not to spark fear for us or to put a negative light on Haiti. All people and all countries go through things that are difficult, and right now is one of those times for this nation. Please pray that the right decisions are made and the right leaders are put into place to lead Haiti moving forward.