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Mountains Beyond Mountains: Why Haiti Will Be OK

Mountains Beyond Mountains: Why Haiti Will Be OK

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.” — Hebrews 10:23

Too often, the world associates Haiti with disasters — some natural, some manmade.

For years, people knew us by the 2010 earthquake. It lasted less than a minute, but it killed more than a quarter of a million people. Eleven years later, Haiti still has not fully recovered.

Over the past few months, attention has turned to growing civil unrest. The presidential assassination on July 7 further complicated an already-fragile situation.

People hear the country mentioned in the news and they think “another disaster in Haiti?” The truth is that Haiti is vulnerable — but Haiti is not a disaster. More than that, Haiti is going to be OK.

I grew up in Haiti, and I go back with some frequency in my role as FMSC’s Regional Program Manager for the Caribbean.

head shot of Junior Obrand 

My most recent visit was just a few weeks ago. I returned to the U.S. on July 2, only five days before the assassination. It was the first time I couldn’t find an answer when someone asked, “How was your trip?”

It was complicated, to say the least. So much hope, so much despair — both so intertwined.

The political and social unrest was at a boiling point. There was a fear that you could only feel, but not explain. COVID-19 was coming back full force. There was a fuel shortage that had significantly reduced the normal Port au Prince traffic that I am used to. In addition to the fuel crisis, serious gang violence in downtown Port-au-Prince made transportation nearly impossible between the capital and other cities in southern Haiti.

It was a hard trip, all in all. You see despair, but also so much hope. You see people fighting every day to get things going — good things. You see people who are not willing to give up. When you talk to people, they tell you, “Man, this is hard, but this is not the end.”

elderly man sitting in a chair in Haiti 

Mountains beyond mountains, crises upon crises

One of the most popular proverbs in Haiti says “Dèyè mòn, gen mòn.”It translates as “Beyond every mountain, there’s another mountain.” As Haitians, we live by this proverb. Climbing our ways out of difficulty is nothing new. Haitians are resilient — we know that behind every mountain we climb, there’s going to be another one. The spirit of being hopeful and resilient — it’s at our core. But with so many simultaneous crises — COVID-19, political unrest, fuel shortage, exorbitant food prices and now the assassination of President Moise — this is the first time that we feel like we’re climbing different mountains at the same time.

Not all mountains that we are climbing make it to the news headlines. For example, in the year 2020, inflation in Haiti was 22%. By comparison, in the neighboring Dominican Republic, it was less than 4%. In the U.S., we saw inflation that was less than 2%. For 2021, experts are already projecting Haiti’s inflation rate to be at or beyond last year’s numbers. (Source: The World Bank)

When you put it all together, it’s not one mountain we’re climbing. You can feel it when you talk to partners. You feel it when you talk to Haitians. You just feel it wherever you go. It’s exhausting. But we know it will be OK.

three Haitian men in soccer jerseys 

Hope in Haiti

There’s a lot going on in Haiti — and it’s hard to describe everything that’s happening — but one fact remains: God is faithful. His faithfulness has not and will not change, and His faithfulness is what I’m standing on to confidently say this: Haiti will be OK.

Is there struggle? Absolutely. But is there also hope? Absolutely yes. It may be hard to see on the surface, but dig a little deeper and you’ll see hope bursting out.

We see hope through our partners, who are not giving up. It takes tough people to work in Haiti and we have tough partners who are doing great work. They’re funding schools, paying teachers, distributing food despite closed roads and fuel shortages.

a group carrying MannaPack boxes across a creek in Haiti 

We see hope in a rising generation. Just this past week, 189,568 students took the 9th grade national exam. In the middle of chaos, kids are studying. This week, another 124,677 students are taking the Philo grade national exam, the last test before officially graduating high school (Source: Haiti’s Ministry of National Education and Professional Training – MENJFP). There is hope. We just need to dig deeper.

4 Haitian girls in school 

We see hope in communities. The local committee that runs our PBFA in Te Wouj is digging in deep. The more chaotic things become around the country and the world, the more value they see in the project as a whole. They’re investing in their community, creating a platform where hope will grow and multiply.

Even in the chaos of Haiti, things are still going on. And we’ll do whatever it takes to keep moving. FMSC won’t quit. Our partners won’t quit. We knew from the start, it would not be easy. We will keep digging in deep.

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.” — Hebrews 10:23

So what can we do? We can hold on to the hope we profess and we can move forward. We can let God be God. I don’t just hope Haiti will be OK. I know it will.

The hope we have does not come from men. It comes from the One who is faithful.

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