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Fear of Virus Adds to Misery in Haiti. Network Members Send Prayers to U.S. Partners

A Letter from Cindy Corell, serving in Haiti

May 2020

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Dearest friends,

Please know that as we all go through this pandemic with our individual and corporate challenges, you each are so appreciated and loved by our partners and me in Haiti.

Not long ago, Fabienne Jean, coordinator of FONDAMA, our Joining Hands network in Haiti, and members of the network’s executive committee, wanted our U.S. partners to know we are all in their prayers.

An excerpt:

ln these difficult and worrying times, FONDAMA team wants you to know that it shares your worries and sorrow and prays earnestly for a lasting and peaceful outcome.

They hold preciously in their hearts and memories all the efforts that you have made in favor of Haitian communities in the trials they live every day. You were always present — in thoughts, by your actions, and in prayers. In difficult times, you always answered the call to accompany poor people and help them to recover.
One of the many miracles in working with those on the margins is hearing and feeling their response.

It is beyond gratitude. It is grace.

We all are suffering through this time—each of us in all corners of God’s world. You will not be surprised to hear that the people of Haiti already coping with poverty, political unrest, and all the misery that comes with those conditions are hanging on by a thread. Not since the earthquake have our friends in Haiti felt such uncertainty and hunger. Their fear is reminiscent of Jan. 12, 2010, and the days and months after.

Mission co-worker Cindy Corell with Deborah Pierre-Paul who lives in Pitit Goave, Haiti. Photo by Didy Belance

The earth beneath their feet shook, concrete buildings crumbled, a loud roar filled their ears, and survivors of the Haiti earthquake of 2010 thought the world might be ending. The world did not end on Jan. 12, 2010, but the cataclysmic event was sure to be the worst disaster Haiti had known. They hoped it would be the worst disaster they would know in their lifetimes.

Ten years later, a pandemic marches across this tiny island nation, taking lives, creating fear, and further destroying its already feeble economy. COVID-19 rolls across Haiti like a slow-moving earthquake. Still, unlike the disaster of 2010 or the hurricanes in 2011, 2013, and 2016, no humanitarian groups or mission teams are coming to supply food, healthcare, and economic first aid.

On March 19, President Jovenel Moïse, in a televised press conference, announced the first official case of COVID-19 infection, declared a national emergency and said all airports, ports, and borders would be closed the next day. Authorities set a curfew, closed schools, and asked non-essential businesses to close.

FONDAMA’s coordinator Jean describes how essential calls to isolate and shelter-in-place press Haitians between absolute hunger and a deadly virus.

“Containment is one of the recommendations of the government that the population must respect,” Jean said. “But the living situation of most of the population forces them to choose between life and survival. In fact, most Haitians live below the poverty line, with no way to save for the rainy day COVID-19 presents. They must go out each day to scratch out enough of a living to feed their families. This puts them in contact with others and in direct threat of bringing home the virus.”
While the government of Haiti has promised support to families and communities, we have not seen evidence of that. And frankly, the people of Haiti do not depend on their oft corrupt government, but in fact, distrust that aid to Haiti from the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, US Aid and Development, and the International Monetary Bank will make its way to hurting communities.

But there is hope, however small. FONDAMA, along with many church-to-community partnerships, is working to find relief for the people of Haiti. We work in rural areas and urban regions. We are in contact with leaders across the country, gathering funds to support community gardens and opportunities for people to grow food at their homes.

As I have mentioned, one miracle of walking with people on the margins is understanding the depth of their prayers for us. Another miracle is knowing that you care deeply for our friends across the world.

I am ever so grateful for all the ways you have supported my service to Haiti. Though I am not there during this pandemic time, I carry your hearts to all of them through emails, messages, and all the technology we can find that works.

If you would like to know more about our work through FONDAMA, please visit this site:
https://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/compassion-peace-justice/hunger/internationaldevelopment/joininghands/joining-hands-country-profiles/haiti-jh/
If you would like to understand more, please write to me. I am happy to speak with your congregations or other groups through technological means. I look forward to the time when we can be together—in your church or, even better, in the beautiful nation of Haiti.

Please know that we appreciate all your care for our friends, and we wish you health and well-being through these challenging times.

Peace and grace,

Cindy Corell


Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

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