The entire country of Haiti has been shut down since the 7th of February. Protestors are demanding justice in response to $3 billion worth of mismanaged funds by the former government. There are roadblocks everywhere, and the situation is getting worse as water, propane for cooking, and bread are rare. Hospitals cannot function. The President and the Prime Minister are arguing publicly on television. The national political situation is, in a word, tense.
In the midst of this, I was in the northern region of Haiti, where I had been speaking about missions to a group of short-term trip volunteers. They had been working with a community and the local staff of a water, hygiene, and sanitation organization.
Just to get to Grande Riviere du Nord where the group was building a well, we had to travel 15 miles of road. We left the compound a bit anxious, not knowing what to expect. Along the way we were stoped at several roadblocks by armed young men. To my amazement, when they heard the purpose of our presence on the road they let us cross without incident.
The trip complete, it was time to head home to Port-au-Prince. I woke up at dawn the morning of my flight, hoping the road would be cleared and “safe”. However, on the way to the airport we encountered huge plumes of smoke from a pile of burning tires at a dangerous crossroads controlled by angry and well-armed young men. Again, after a short conversation with a community leader who accompanied us, we were safely on our way.
Reflecting back, I can see in the midst of protest and the violence a sense of hope. Even with the palpable anger fueled by desperation in my country, we were able to witness compassion and understanding. The men we encountered were not blinded by their frustration. By their actions toward us, strangers on the road, we were shown a vivid example of hope for a better future. In the (adapted) words of Denise Levertov, “This week I saw hope in the smokes of Haiti.”
Valery’s primary focus as a Street Psalms Senior Fellow is how to build bridges across all kinds of dividing lines for the sake of his city. Valery serves as the Training Hub Director as Sous Espwa with Resonate Global Mission, and lives in Port-au-Prince with his wife and their two children. Valery is a current student of Bakke Graduate University.
Photos: Street Psalms