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Now more than ever, Haiti needs advocates

 

Haiti Mission Network gathering will take place prior to Big Tent

by Cindy Corell | Special to Presbyterian News Service

The 2019 Haiti Mission Network gathering is being held prior to the Big Tent event in Baltimore. (Photo by Cindy Corell)

LOUISVILLE — You’ve been there for Haiti.

You’ve donated money. You’ve prayed for the people of Haiti. You may have even gone to visit and work alongside the Haitian people in short-term mission.

All this support has been important and appreciated. Now the people of Haiti need your advocacy in the U.S.

Will you be an advocate for Haiti?

You can learn more by attending the Haiti Mission Network meeting, July 30–Aug. 1, in the days ahead of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Big Tent gathering in Baltimore.

As one of the poorest countries in the world, safety, clean water, food, accessible health care and education are out of reach for many people in Haiti. Dictatorships, political corruption and devastating natural disasters have led to exorbitant inflation. Climate change alternating in heavy rains and crop-killing droughts have left the Haitian people feeling depleted and vulnerable to violent crime.

At various times since July 2018, widespread protests have called for the president of Haiti to resign. But street protests won’t be enough to bring the peace and quality of life people of Haiti deserve. International concerns have harmed Haiti since its birth as the world’s first free black republic. Already, grassroots Haitian networks and platforms are putting into place campaigns to make a difference, but they need more allies.

“In recent years, you have heard of all kinds of crises in Haiti and you are wondering why the situation is still getting worse, given the amount of help and support the country receives,” said Fabienne Jean, coordinator of FONDAMA. “Yes, it is true that Haiti receives a lot of help,” she added, “but the problems are deeper and systemic.”

FONDAMA (Hands Together Foundation of Haiti) is a network of grassroots organizations from across Haiti. It is a network of Joining Hands, an initiative of the Presbyterian Hunger Program. The network primarily works in advocacy as well as small projects with Presbyterian partners, such as building cisterns and gardens.

Members of FONDAMA have identified a number of systemic problems causing Haiti’s poverty: land-grabbing, effects of natural disaster, and the devastating impact of food imports on local producers. You will see that these problems all threaten farmers’ property.

Fighting for their land is a slow and complicated battle, but it is a battle for life, rural Haitians have told me. The garden, as I once heard a Haitian farmer tell his neighbors, is where God began the world. And to the Haitians I know, almost to a one, the garden is what gives us life.

Living on less than $2 a day, rural families depend on their small gardens for their own meals, and whatever is left to be sold at market. The market sales provide money for school tuition, medical care, household supplies and clothing.

Haiti is in need of advocates in the United States. (Photo by Cindy Corell)

As it turns out, telling the story of what is going on with our sisters and brothers in Haiti translates quite well. Our cultures are so different, even our cultures in different parts of the U.S., but, well, when you get right down to it, assuring that everyone is able to live a dignified life is very much the same anywhere.

Our sisters and brothers of Haiti are asking for conditions that will offer them that dignified life — the means of making a living to provide food, clean water, education and medical care for themselves and their families.

Now more than ever, we can learn what it takes to accompany our Haitian partners in the walk toward a better life. You can be an advocate for Haiti.

You can be an ally.

Please register to attend the Haiti Mission Network meeting July 30-Aug. 1. The gathering will provide an opportunity to hear from the Presbyterian Hunger Program‘s leaders in Haiti, as well as staff from the PC(USA)’s Office of Public Witness. By joining with other Presbyterians to share experiences and learn how we can be allies and better partners with the Haitian people, we can make the connection between U.S. policy and deterrents to Haiti’s development in this critical moment. Then you’ll be able to make a difference and advocate for Haiti in your own circle of ministry.

Following the Haiti Mission Network meeting, you also can join Presbyterians from across the U.S. at Big Tent in Baltimore for energizing worship, Bible studies, learning opportunities and active engagement with one another and the community. Please note that the Haiti Mission Network meeting, while sharing registration with Big Tent, is a separate event.

Since 2013, Cindy Corell has been a mission co-worker in Haiti, where she serves as the Presbyterian Hunger Program/Joining Hands companionship facilitator.


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