What Obstacles Need Overcome?

Colossians 1:16-18
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Between political unrest and the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a lot happening in Haiti over the last several months. We want to utilize this month’s newsletter to talk openly about what life in Haiti looks like right now and how that has affected anti-trafficking efforts in Haiti, as well as how it has specifically affected Hands and Feet Project’s Aftercare Program. This isn’t necessarily encouraging news. However, we believe that it is important to be educated and aware, so that we can know how to best pray for wisdom and proceed in our operations. After reading this newsletter, please take a careful look at our prayer requests and join us in prayer. We know that Jesus is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

The current political crisis in Haiti stems from ongoing conflict between the president, Jovenel Moïse, and the opposition, the Democratic and Popular Sector. Here’s what we know:

  • The opposition party is demanding that President Jovenel Moïse step down from his position as president, saying that his five-year term ended on Sunday, February 7, 2021.
  • President Moïse has said that he will not leave his office, asserting that an interim government occupied the first year of his term, which would make the end of his presidency February 7, 2022.
  • Last weekend, Haiti’s judiciary sided with the opposition party and ruled that President Moïse’s term ended in 2021.
  • The opposition declared Supreme Court Judge Joseph Mécène Jean-Louis as interim president, after authorities arrested 23 people associated with a failed coup to install a different Supreme Court judge, Yvcikel Dabresi. President Moïse continues to assert that he is still the rightful president and has remained in office.
  • Many fear that rising political tensions will worsen the state of the country, which already struggles with hunger, poverty, and lack of consistent power. This has fueled recurring clashes between protestors and the nation’s police force.
  • President Moïse has ruled by presidential decree since last year, after suspending two-thirds of the Senate and the entire lower Chamber of Deputies. Haiti, with a population of 11 million people, has only 11 elected officials representing the entire nation. President Moïse has failed to hold any elections over the last four years of his presidential term.
  • Sometime in the coming months, President Moïse is intending to expand his presidential powers by changing the country’s Constitution. A referendum on the new Constitution is scheduled for April 2021.
  • Leaders of the opposition have stated that if President Moïse does not step down, the opposition will hold more protests and engage in civil disobedience.

Haiti Braces for Unrest as a Defiant President Refuses to Step Down
Haiti crisis: Opposition names Joseph Mecene Jean Louis president to rival Moise 

Haiti has faced corruption throughout the country for many years — in the government, in the economy, and in social life. The tensions that this corruption has created over the past several decades plays a significant role in the ongoing political and civil unrest.

  • Transparency International’s 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index ranks Haiti as the second-most corrupt country in the Western hemisphere after Venezuela.
  • The World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI), reporting across six dimensions of governance (including government effectiveness, regulatory quality, rule of law, and control of corruption), ranks Haiti strikingly low at 12%.
  • These statistics alone point toward the difficulty that each successive Haitian government has had when it comes to managing human, financial, and legal resources to create sustainable plans for development. This has led to a general feeling of mistrust of the government across the nation.
  • According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, there have been three significant events in the past decade that have contributed to corruption in Haiti: the post-2010 earthquake reconstruction effort, the PetroCaribe (an oil alliance between 18 Caribbean member states) embezzlement, and the uncontrolled cross-border trader between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. You can read more about these events by clicking on the button below.

Center for Strategic and International Studies: The Haitian Challenge

Compared to many other countries, Haiti has relatively few COVID-19 cases. This is a big answer to prayer! We are so thankful that none of our staff and children have been sick. Still yet, COVID protocols pose some logistical challenges for our team.

  • Since the start of the pandemic in early 2020, Haiti has only had 11,991 recorded cases and less than 250 deaths.
  • However, with the increase in COVID cases across the world, Haiti’s Ministry of Health is now requiring that travelers show a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of boarding. Many other countries, including the United States, are also currently requiring travelers to show a negative COVID test before traveling from Haiti.
  • Dr. Jean-Hughes Henrys, who served on the president’s COVID-19 scientific commission, said while Haiti is not seeing a significant increase of COVID infections as previously anticipated, cases have been on the rise and the country will need to continue to take precautions.

Thinking of going to Haiti for carnival? You will now need a negative COVID-19 test

Over the past year, all of these factors — the current political climate, overall corruption in Haiti, and the COVID-19 pandemic — have created significant challenges for the anti-trafficking efforts in Haiti. For Hands and Feet Project’s involvement specifically, this has greatly affected both our Rescue and Support Operations, and as a result, our Aftercare Program as well. Some specific challenges our Aftercare Program is facing include:

  • The inability to travel within the country to develop and maintain relationships with other anti-trafficking groups and organizations.
  • The inability to move freely in Haiti to pinpoint areas of concern regarding human trafficking and to gather intel needed for prosecution and to conduct raids.
  • Due to corruption in the government, there is a lack of capacity for support from authorities to anti-trafficking organizations.
  • Lack of prosecution for traffickers; without prosecution, the cycle of trafficking remains in place.
  • Frequently shut-down government offices make it extremely difficult for operations to progress, because officials are not available for meetings, paperwork, and licensure.

At Hands and Feet Project, we wholeheartedly believe in the power of prayer and the ability of God to guide our steps and outcomes. Here are some specific prayer requests that we would love for you to partner with us in prayer for:
  • An increase in the capacity of Haiti’s government authorities to safeguard the welfare of vulnerable and exploited children. Two specific governmental organizations to pray for in this are IBESR (Child Welfare) and BPM (Brigade for the Protection of Minors)
  • Haiti’s Investigative Units, which are responsible for deciding which leads to follow in conducting investigations into human trafficking
  • Darkness to be exposed into the light; for girls to be freed
  • For each girl who will come through our program. Though we don’t know them now, we are waiting with anticipation for the opportunity to know them, show the Father’s love to them, and be a part of each of their stories
  • That the Lord would grant language comprehension and expression as His gift for His work
  • For the Lord to reveal clarity on the potential of new relationships and partnerships
  • That the Lord would begin to reveal to the authorities the intel needed to pinpoint trafficking routes and traffickers, which would in turn lead to successful raids, rescues, arrests, and prosecutions
  • With new covid protocols in place, that travel will go as planned with health and ease
  • For the many children who are having their innocence and lives stolen for the selfish and dark gain of others
By partnering with us through donating to the Aftercare Program, you will be helping to pave the way for Hands and Feet Project to continue to support our Rescue Support Team operations for raids and rescues, as well as provide food, clothing, toiletries, supplies for therapy groups/skill development classes, medical expenses, educational opportunities, high level caregivers and therapy staff for our programming…to name just a few things. You can donate directly to the Aftercare Program by clicking the button below.