For the past two years, we have been in survival mode. Since the assassination of the Haitian president ,Port-au-Prince and its surrounding areas have fallen victim to vicious gang violence that resembles more like the warzones of the Middle East rather than the gang violence we have experienced here in the states.
According to the 2023 Human Rights Watch report, there are 92 gangs fighting over territory. In 2022, there were 1,349 reported homicides and almost 900 kidnappings. In addition, there is on average, about 98 reported victims of sexual violence a month. To exert authority, these gangs enter neighborhoods with utmost violence commiting atrocious acts against its inhabitants to promote fear. It is working so much so that up to 40% of Haitians are experiencing severe food insecurity.
This “wave of brutality” has displaced 96,000 victims from their homes in search of food, shelter and safety; all of which are hard to attain across the landscape of Haiti.
Pure Water in the Midst of the Haitian Desert
In the words of our Director and Father-Figure of the boys we serve, Josue Henry…..
“Our home looks like an oasis in the middle of the Haitian desert. This doesn’t mean we are unaffected by everything that is going on in our city, far from it. I simply want to say that our situation is far better than others.
Bamboo takes five years to grow and must be watered and fertilized in the soil where it is planted. It does not even pierce the ground for five years. So it is with our program. We’ve watered these young men every day with hope, patience and love. The sacrifices made are priceless. I announce to you with joy, that the moment is starting to show itself with the graduation of Prioly Schneider. We are seeing the first piercings and for that we celebrate.”
In August, one of the 15 young men that we serve, Prioly, graduated from Technical College. This was a tremendous occasion for the household, especially for Josue as he has poured so much into this outstanding young man.
Josue Henry, Program Director
Prioly with his family, Josue and his wife, including the “brothers” he grew up with in a boys’ home.
However, shortly after, I also received this SOS Letter from Josue:
“I have never been so worried in my entire life. We are really in danger. The bandits are on the brink of invading our neighborhood. Paulson saw them yesterday advancing some 500 yards from the main street leading to the house. They are numerous and well-armed, he tells me, terrified. They were very fortunately stopped by the police, but we have no doubt that they will return in greater numbers and be more armed. We don't know when or what time of day, but they will be back. News suggesting that the bandits are interested in annexing our area to their territories has been pouring in since last week. Our fear becomes even greater when we think of their atrocities. When they invade a neighborhood, they loot, they burn, they rape, they kill...then they settle. Those who were lucky enough to escape find themselves in the streets without knowing where they are going and what they are going to do.”
In response to this emergency, I reached out to a few friends and together we sent enough money to make the move to Cap Haitien, the northern part of the island and far away from the chaos of Port-au-Prince. They left behind their home, their schools, their trades and although they are safe, we are starting over with fresh hope and a renewed sense of purpose.
New City, New Hope
The reason I haven’t brought this to your attention is because I didn’t know how. How do I make our American brains understand the despair that these young men have experienced and the violence they have witnessed? How do I ask people to care for a program that no longer is about “orphan prevention through job creation” but more about pouring into the lives of 15 young men simply because the Lord has placed them in our lives?
But the thing is it is no longer about a “program.” It is simply about helping our brothers and sisters in Haiti who have been forgotten by so many. The very young men perpetuating evil on the streets of Port-au-Prince are the young men who grew up on the streets, aged out of orphanages, who had nowhere to turn.
These past two years have been hard to watch and truth be told, I have stopped dreaming for Haiti. It’s been hard to breathe hope and encouragement into the people on the ground as I helplessly watch. I admit that it is Josue who has given me hope. In spite of all of the hardship, he has not and will not give up on any of these boys.
Yet, this move to a new city has given me reason to hope that it is for some very special reason that these young men have been spared. Maybe, just maybe….our mission that these young men will stop the cycle of orphanhood, violence and poverty still is on the horizon. We’ve had our success stories, sure, but this new beginning has given us strength to cling to our mission tighter than before.
But we need help. We need both advocates to pray and to give and to let us know you are still here. You are here and willing to stand on behalf of the young men of Haiti.
Here is How to Give
Because of the emergency relocation, we are having to start over with new high schools, trade schools and colleges. This includes book costs, registration fees and uniforms.
We are need of $1,500 in order to cover these costs.
It costs $5,500 a month to implement housing, discipleship, education and higher education for the 15 young men we serve.
At the moment, we bring in about $3,500 a month and are short $2,000/month.
If you made it through this letter, thank you. I am grateful.
If you are not in a position to give a financial gift, there are other, very important, ways to serve. You can become a prayer partner. Simply email me at email@example.com and I will send you the information on one young man for you to cover in prayer.
I end with words from Josue’s last letter:
“Leaving Port-au-Prince was the best decision since the situation was degenerating more every day. Our trip would not be possible without your dedication, your heart, your involvement, and everything else. God only knows how much we needed this. We are very grateful to everyone who was involved in the project. Everyone who feels compassion and is convinced that their help can change an entire life. I know the situation is not easy for everyone. This is why every cent collected is very precious to us. We promise you SUCCESS despite the situation.”