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Glimmers of Joy Temper Terrifying News from Haiti

A Letter from Cindy Corell, serving in Haiti

Spring 2023

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Individuals: Give online to E132192 in honor of Cindy Corell’s ministry

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Dear friends,

This year marks a decade since I moved to live and serve in Haiti. Ten years of listening and learning and sharing stories from this small and remarkable nation. The past three years have seen me living in Virginia again as the security, economic and political situation in Haiti continues to deteriorate. It is a place hardly livable for descendants of the formerly enslaved who freed the first Free Black .

Like spicy pikliz is a little too much to eat on its own, the harsh news of Haiti is best tempered with sweet memories and the little good news that comes our way. Photo by Didy Belance.

And I, with all my privilege, was able to leave. Each day I hear news of gang warfare raging among neighborhoods, massacres and other atrocities. My heart continues breaking, and it has taken a lot of effort to keep me whole in mind and spirit.

Privilege can feel like a wet blanket across my shoulders.

Our work in Haiti continues as it can. Mouvman Peyizan Papay, a founding organization of the network FONDAMA celebrated its 50th anniversary last week. Five decades of coming together with farmers across the Central Plateau and the nine other magisterial departments in Haiti.

Even from afar, celebrating this accomplishment helps assuage the difficulties of keeping up with news in Haiti. I am learning to mix up the ways I experience Haiti to do just that: feel the pain, and I temper it with joy.

It’s not much different from connecting foods to fully taste life.

If you have traveled to Haiti, you have enjoyed pikliz, a sort of slaw common to most dinners. Made with shredded carrots and cabbage, pikliz is marinated in vinegar and brightened with a Scotch bonnet pepper.

A pop-up party of fritay (fried foods with spicy slaw and other goodies) brings joy. Photo by Garry Pierre-Paul.

“Don’t eat it on its own,” a friend warned when I first was served pikliz. “Eat it with something else. It’s not cole slaw.”

My friend was right. Just enough pikliz atop a fried slice of plantain or fried chicken is tasty.

Eaten by itself, pikliz would sear your tongue and steal a taste bud or two.

That’s the way I’m feeling about sharing news from our beloved Haiti. The terror of what goes on is too much on its own. So, I try my best to temper it with better news, and with a little effort, that’s not terribly difficult.

I have a rented house in Delmas, so to provide a photo for this letter, I asked my friends there to prepare fritay, a common party meal, and send a photo of the pikliz on a fried plantain. Because inflation is so high, I sent extra funds so Nadia could shop for the meal.

What a joy it was when the photos came back! Nadia’s son Didy is making excellent use of a camera I left behind, practicing his skills. Garry made sure that there was fuel to cook the meal.

Fried plantains, goat meat and potatoes accompany a meal called “fritay,” that is often served at a celebration or weekend meal.

And then? During a terrible season in Haiti, when they hear gunfire coming close to the house, where the sellers of food are hard-pressed to find customers – there was a party.

All so I could share with you the beauty and the horrors of living in Haiti.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve in this tiny island country. Its history and culture, its music and art, its spirit and the deep, deep faith of its people inspire me.

God called me to Haiti. Then God called me back to the U.S. for the time being. I will return home, and though I’d rather be there, God hasn’t asked my opinion. I will serve as well as I can, staying in touch with beloved friends and courageous colleagues.

Thank you for your continued and generous support of our ministries in Haiti. I am here to share updates, stories and ways you can be more involved.

Ke Bondye beni nou tout.

May God bless you all.

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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