April 2019 Newsletter a better future through education and
www.haitihopehouse.org PO Box 292 Orange, NJ 07051
Our Mission Statement
The mission of Haiti Hope House, Inc. is to seek opportunities to help educate Haitian children, and train young adults in marketable skills in partnership with existing organizations and local communities in order to equip them for a better future and give them hope.
In This Issue:
Through It All Touring the Haiti Hope House Learning Center Contact Us
“Are you aware of what is currently going on in Haiti?” I asked the JetBlue agent. “Yes” she replied. “And you are still planning to fly there?” I continued. “I am aware,” she said, “but we have not received any order to cancel, so yes we are planning to fly there as usual.” “Well” I added, “I am not going with you and I would like to cancel my flight or postpone it to a later date.”
So began the first of many conversations that I would have with JetBlue agents for the next few weeks as I tried to confirm my flight to Haiti last February in the midst of the political unrest and the violence in the streets of Port-au-Prince and most of the major cities of the country. Operation “peyi lok” (country lock down) brought the country to a standstill for two weeks as roads are blocked with burning tires, boulders, or even tree trunks while angry mobs break into stores, looted and set them on fire. Sick people could not get to a hospital and school children had to stay home. These two weeks of total chaos landed Haiti on the “no fly” list of the U.S. States Department and the “black list” of travel agencies.
I just want to share with you a YouTube link to a short video giving a glimpse at how things were. Ironically, this video was released at the end of March by a coalition of leaders opposing further unrest and violence which were being planned by some, and scheduled to begin on March 29th to mark the departure of Baby Doc Duvalier, and commemorate the country’s 1987 constitution which replaced the dictatorship of the Duvaliers.
What they were saying is that the two weeks of lock, of chaos, of breaking, burning, and destroying, has done nothing for the country. Instead, it has caused Haiti to lose over $750 million of dollars in revenue. It has pushed the country out of the community of nations, and caused more misery for the people. They were saying NO to the proposed demonstrations. They will not take to the street on March 29. They were instead advocating for dialog as a way out of the crisis. (just do Ctrl+Click)
As usual, I travel to Haiti every six months. Since the earthquake of January 2010, I have been to Haiti 20 times. This trip, my 21st, proved to be the most difficult and the most expensive of them all. The situation as it were was very dangerous. Travel by land was at one’s own risk even after the “peyi lok” (country lock down) was over. In consultation with the folks in Haiti, it was decided that the safest way to make it to Mizak, is to reserve a small plane to fly me to Jacmel. So upon landing at the International airport, the liaison’s brother picked me up and drove me to the small airport a short distance away. I was forced to spend an extra $285 to fly a small plane (three seater) over Port-au-Prince and surrounding towns with the burning tires and other debris still littering some streets. I landed in Jacmel in about 20 minutes. From there I was picked up by a bus which took me to the Learning Center, about 30 minutes away.
Instead of spending 4 hours on the dangerous road, I was in Mizak by 2.30 pm, approximately one hour after I landed in Port-au-Prince.
"Through it all," as the Andraé Crouch’s hymn says, “I learned to trust in Jesus, I learned to trust in God.” For I understand that I am on His mission, and I am confident that He will see me through. I had many items on my agenda for this trip which was originally scheduled for five weeks, but had to be reduced to four. I had an ESL class to teach for the young adults, separate meetings scheduled with the parents and the children, and many other activities planned, including the purchase of books for the library, installation of surveillance cameras, electrical work, etc…
I arrived Saturday and on Monday the ESL class began. Because of the many postponements, we lost a few of the original 20 young men and women who had registered for it. We met everyday for 5 hours, for three weeks. The course was intensive and wide ranging, covering everything from reading, grammar, conversation, pronunciation, composition, translation, expressions, and vocabulary. Very satisfying !!!
I also met with the children with the objective to connect with them on a personal level. There are many children in the program that I only know my name and the school they attend. There are many who only know me by name, but would not recognize me in the street. So, our meeting was not only to encourage them to work hard in order to achieve a passing grade, but also to get acquainted with each other. Besides the pep talk and the introductions, we spent some time watching a movie together, and sharing some refreshment afterwards. All of us were happy about our encounter which lasted about four hours.
The people of Mizak are very excited about the library, the first and only library in the community; and so are we. I designed and built it myself. We still have many empty shelves to fill, but I am grateful for what we were able to do so far.
Including the books I purchased during this trip, we have bought over $3000 worth of books, so far, and it is like a drop in the bucket.
So, if you would like to make a tax- deductible book donation, it would be appreciated. You can do so on-line by going to the Haiti Hope House website: www.haitihopehouse.org or mail your gift to:
Haiti Hope House
PO Box 292 Orange
Below is a short YouTube video showing the activities in the library as the students are preparing for the third marking period exams. (just do Ctrl+Click)
Things have quieted down to some extent and I was able to do everything I planned to do during the four weeks trip, and I returned safely back home on 3/23. I took the bus back to the airport. Except for the inevitable traffic jam, I made it in about four hours without any incident.
Lest one thinks that everything is now OK, it is not so. Heavily armed gangs are terrorizing the country, specially in the poor sections of Port-au-Prince, and the police, outmanned and outgunned, seems totally helpless. Just this week, six people were killed and over twenty people injured when for whatever reason a gang leader decided to flex his muscles in a community of Port-au-Prince known as Carrefour Feuille.
To make matter worse, rumors have it that these gangs are being armed and financed by some members of the parliament for their own personal/political objectives.
On the political scene, there is no government at this time. The Prime Minister who was present during the “lock down” was forced to resign. There is an interim care taker Prime Minister whom the President just nominated for the post. He has to be confirmed by the parliament before he can put together a cabinet to run the affairs of the country. Of course, there is a lot of back room deals going on; the members of the parliament have to extract their “pound of flesh” in order to approve the new Prime Minister. That is the way things are done in Haiti. Problem is, there is no flesh to extract anything from. For all intent and purposes, the country is broke.
They were supposed to have elections in the coming months for members of the upper and lower chambers of the parliament, mayors, and other municipal posts. The smart bet is that the elections will not take place. What is going to happen? Nobody knows. Can the uprising and violence resume? Quite possible, and it can happen anytime, anywhere, and for any reason.
But, THROUGH IT ALL: 17% inflation, a devalued currency, $450 million deficit, over 50% unemployment, violence, etc…the Haitian people perseveres, struggling to survive and hoping against hope that by God’s grace things will begin to change for the better. They have been hoping and waiting for a long time, but it seems that far from getting better, things have become worse.
I am already planning for my next trip in mid-August. School opens in September, and I have to be there to get the children ready to begin the new school year.
My prayer is that indeed in His Grace and Mercy, God who is a God of order, and not of chaos; a God of justice, and not of injustice; a God of peace, a God of hope, will finally smile upon Haiti and her people.
Some may doubt that it will ever happen, but: “THROUGH IT All, I have learned to depend upon God’s word.”
Touring the Learning Center Rev. Aguilh
It is hard to believe, but it is true: this coming September will mark HHH’s 9th anniversary in the mission field of Mizak, Haiti. As we continue to subvention the education of more than 100 children every year, we have continued the construction of the HHH Learning Center which was inaugurated on 9/2/18, and put in service to the people. The picture below shows the LC in April 2016.
Below are two YouTube links to a video giving a tour of the Learning Center outside and inside. We have come a long way though we still have some work to do on the security wall. I thank all of you who helped us get here.
Please visit our website www.haitihopehouse.org . You can contact any of us listed below with your questions.
Rev. Franck Aguilh, Chair
telephone: 973 495-7206
Mrs. Langirene Aguilh, Secretary
telephone: 973 420 -7284
Dr. Michael Stewart, Treasurer
telephone: 917 584 - 6758
Rev. Geralda Aldajuste
telephone: 732 207-7185
Mr. Ivan Kelly
telephone: 347 451-1592
Mrs. Saundra Austin-Benn
telephone: 908 313 8628
Dr. Joy Traille