By Cailyn Prewitt
As many of you may know, Haiti is very near and dear to my heart. The country is full of resilient, joyful, loving, incredibly hard-working, peaceful, God-fearing people. They are some of the strongest people I know in all aspects, including spiritually. They have so many opportunities to depend on God because otherwise there would be no hope, as the country suffers much poverty, malnutrition, unemployment, disease, and natural disasters. I lived in Haiti for one and a half years and continue to work for Chances for Children, a non-profit organization that serves kids and families in 14 Haitian villages through local churches.
Our hearts are so heavy as we face the aftermath of the recent events. At 1 a.m. Wednesday, the president of Haiti, Jovenel Moïse, was murdered in his home in Petionville by an organized group of foreign mercenaries. The president lived about 30 minutes from our main site in Kenscoff, only about 7 miles away down the steep, windy mountain road. The U.S. Embassy is closed, the airports are closed, and the borders to the Dominican Republic have been shut down and are enforced with a military presence. The country is in a “state of siege” for two weeks, and most businesses remain closed. The people are in a dangerous situation as there is no clear answer as to who will lead the country and what will come next.
It is difficult to process the situation as the Haitian people have dealt with so much political instability, unrest, and uncertainty the past few years. This is a result of many decades of government corruption. More recently it’s been uncovered that politicians pocketed about $3.8 billion over the past 12 years, money that was supposed to be used toward public projects, including building roads and infrastructure as well as job creation, most of which never came to fruition. The Haitian people have suffered heavily as a result. The cost of living has increased, and gas shortages are now common. Most of the population still lives on less than $2 per day with more than 80 percent of people lacking consistent work. Many families can only afford to put one meal on the table a day. Many of the kids in our feeding programs rely on us for their only meals.
It is challenging to discuss the current situation in Haiti without sharing about the history of the country. The French first took over one-third of the island of Hispaniola and brought in 800,000 slaves from West Africa to clear most of the land to produce sugarcane and coffee. In the late 1700s, Haiti exported the most coffee in the world. The French outnumbered the slaves 10 to 1. Despite this, in 1804, the slaves fought bravely against the French and gained independence for Haiti in 1804, becoming the first independent black nation in the Western Hemisphere. However, in 1825, Haiti was forced to pay France $21 billion to preserve its independence.
Since that time, there has been much foreign intervention and corruption with many leaders acting in their own interest, not in the interest of the Haitian people. Since the land has been stripped of natural resources, it is very challenging for the country to build up its economy and provide consistent work for its people.
Chances for Children has stepped in to help provide jobs for 160 Haitians, so they can take care of their families. The organization also feeds 5,100 kids in 22 feeding programs, cares for orphans, provides medical care and education, pours into others spiritually through local pastors, and addresses needs through our local church partners. All of our villagers are safe as of Thursday night, but we do ask that you please pray for protection over our children, staff, and communities and for peace in Haiti.
We are learning to lean deeper into God during this time. I am constantly reminded to take a step back and pray that God helps me to see a glimpse of the way He sees the world. We know that He is mourning with us as we see sin laid out before us in every corner of the world, but we also know He has complete sovereignty over every situation and power over the evil one. This gives me great comfort, knowing those who choose to follow Him are free and will be taken care of for eternity no matter how much they suffer on earth. This light continues to exude from Haitian believers because they know God has His arms wrapped around them, providing for them no matter what is to come.
You can read more about my experiences in Haiti and events that have happened in Haiti over the past couple of years on my blog page: https://caideinhaiti.home.blog
Cailyn Prewitt, a member of the UFC family and the current UFC mission intern, moved to Haiti in January 2019 to serve with Chances to Children to help provide opportunities and hope for children and families across Haiti. She returned to the States in March 2020 for safety reasons as well as the COVID pandemic. She helps manage from a distance C4C’s feeding programs, micro-lending program, and social media accounts. She loves to travel, hike mountains, paint, do yoga, make healthy spicy dishes, and spend quality time with friends and family. She strives to serve Jesus and spread His love in all that she does! Her favorite Bible verse is Proverbs 31:8-9: Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.