February was a very difficult month in Haiti. February 7th marked the two year anniversary of President Moise’s inauguration into office. He had campaigned strongly against corruption and promised economic growth. After two years the people have waited long enough for the expected changes and many decided that the president had to go. So the demonstrations began and Port-au-Prince and most large cities in the country came to a standstill. Burning tires, overturning vehicles, breaking windows, looting businesses, throwing rocks at the police and thousands of people daily marching toward the capital and Presidential Palace went on for almost two weeks. They were demanding the resignation of the president but he refused.
Foreign embassies have been shut down and embassy workers have been sent home. Many countries have issued “no travel” advisories for Haiti.
Most of the people in Haiti are poor and needy and live from day to day. Without electricity and refrigeration they depend on purchasing food from the open markets every day. Also thousands of them depend on being able to sell their produce at the markets but they were not open due to lack of safety. So by the end of a couple weeks many are hungry and thirsty.
I received an email from a young man in Port-au-Prince at the peak of the demonstrations. He wrote:
“The situations are not good in Haiti in recent days and we do not know when they will be because since our independence from the yoke of slavery we, Haitians do not know how to unite and live as a brother. It seems that we are condemned to live in extreme poverty despite the efforts that we youth could deploy to get out of this mess. The situation is bumpy and still we keep hope because our great God is in control. We ask for the prayers of everyone so that God can help us out in the difficult times that we currently live.”
I responded to him that day and tried to encourage him to not lose hope. I thought back to my first trip to Haiti and the hopelessness I felt when I returned. But then realized that I couldn’t change Haiti but God was calling us to make a difference one child at a time. God is making a difference and allowing us to be part of His work!
A couple of days later I received another email from him. This time he wrote:
“My thoughts are beyond my expectations at the moment because when I was growing up, they always say that education is the key to success after God, they encouraged you to study very hard in order to have a better future but today I now see that I have the key, but they change the lock so that we young Haitians always stay under the table of rich people waiting if there will be small pieces that fall from their meal to get served.”
It’s not easy to read these letters without the heart being touched. I do realize that we don’t know what the future holds for the youth of Haiti. We do know that our great and merciful God does hold the future and He will bring to pass what He desires. But that’s easy to say when I’m sitting here in a comfortable setting in Lynden. I haven’t experienced hunger, thirst and desperation about my future. These young people in Haiti go from one natural disaster to another and then on to man-made disasters. Their entire history has been a disaster and looking ahead doesn’t look any better.
Psalm 46:1-3 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”
Things have settled down in Haiti as I write this letter. Travel has become easier and the people are able to buy food and water.
Our ministry area has not been affected very much. Life goes on in the provinces of Haiti with very little disruption. God continues to use Starfish Ministries to make a difference in so many lives. Through the clinic ministry, many sick are being restored to health. Through the sharing of the gospel many sick souls are being healed.
Thank you so much for your prayers and support. Please continue to pray for the discouraged that they will find refuge and strength from God in these times of struggles.
Serving the Lord together,
Bernie, Sheryl and Philip Bovenkamp