A precursor: I hesitate to write this, because I view part of my role as breaking down stereotypes that Westerners have of Haitians. In the wrong light, information like this can perpetuate stereotypes that do more harm to Haitian's pride and independence than any social turmoil or poverty can. But I feel out of transparaceny and care, it is also my job to inform you of recent events in Haiti. I pray that we can all look upon these events as manifestations of broken relationships and evil in our world, and not as the justification some of us want to convince ourselves that "people get what they deserve." There's a word in Haitian Creole called degaje. Degaje means to "make do with what you have." In many ways, this has been the motto of Haitian life since the beginning of their independence. But I've been asking myself recently, how do you make do with what you have, if what you have is practically nothing?
Since this last March, Haiti has been thrust into their newest chapter of political turmoil. And in the last two weeks, the palpable tension has been rising in the capitol of Port au Prince. The country is experiencing a major fuel shortage because the government is behind on paying oil companies back for previously used gasoline. This, along with a 19% inflation rate in the national currency, and in-fighting in the Haitian senate, has sparked widespread protests. Principal Chango told me today that school in Cascade Pichon has not been affected by the protests yet, and we hope that it stays that way. And as far as we know, Nurse Maryse is still doing her medical rotation throughout the southeast, though we are trying to contact her right now.
If the Haitian government can ratify a new prime minister and national budget soon, they will be able to access loans from the International Monetary Fund that they desperately need to resume social normalcy. We pray that Haitian leaders are able to step up and help their citizens. A Haitian friend of mine (one of the best people I know) told me yesterday that he feels "useless," and that he is ashamed of his country right now. One must know the past 200 years of exploitation the world has thrust upon Haiti before they can adequately judge what is happening there now, but we also recognize that sometimes we wish our politicians would be better leaders than they are. If I was Haitian, I would probably be protesting too.
I'm asking you all to pray for Haiti if you can. I'm not sure what else we can do right now, I am just praying that our friends can find a way to degaje in the midst of all of this hurt. Even though they don't have much.
- Shay Foster