We now know, according to national health officials, that more than 1000 have died from cholera here in Haiti and that Haitian President Preval fears cholera riots will spread to Port-au-Prince today. Violence aimed at UN peacekeepers began over the weekend in Cap-Haitien and Hinch, as well as smaller towns around the country—this amid unfounded fear that members of a Nepalese contingent brought the disease to Haiti.
In the midst of all this, I feel fairly safe in my small section of the city, Petion-ville, essentially the Beverly Hills of Port-au-Prince. With 2 armed guards posted at my gate around the clock, whether there’s rioting in the capital or not, I’m blessed with a security so many here are forced to do without.
Admittedly, Haiti isn’t all that safe for foreigners, especially in this city, where non-Haitians are kidnapped, on average, of once a day—mostly for ransom, sometimes because people are desperate, often because the prison here was damaged during the earthquake, allowing criminals to escape and (still on the loose) commit crimes against the very people who are here to help. Not more than a month ago someone was kidnapped just outside the gym where I work out most mornings.
Unfortunately, my experience in Haiti is limited by these security concerns and the policies implemented by the NGO where my partner Sara works—one that, unlike some smaller organizations and church groups, has the size and funding to manage risk effectively.
But I am safe. And though I don’t work directly in the community, though I don’t go into the camps and feed the poor, I know I am doing my small part, providing a home for Sara and giving her (I hope) the security she needs—the strength to direct a massive disaster response operation for a housing NGO that works in nearly 100 countries.
The effort sometimes leaves her a little frayed around the edges and me a bit torn up in the process. But, we are blessed to be together, loving one another, learning to love a country that has been fighting now for centuries—fighting first against colonial oppression, fighting later against oppressive dictators, and fighting now a disease that’s dictating the fate of way too many.
Please pray for us. Please pray for Haiti!