Haiti protests paralyse country
Over the last week Haiti has been paralysed by a new wave of protests which has brought the country to an almost complete standstill.
With huge (double digit) inflation impacting costs of food and fuel over the last few years, the Haitian currency plummeting against the US dollar and the national budget deficit at a record high, the current anger being shown is not just a sudden, spur of the moment thing. But, some more recent reports and allegations on Government corruption have added to the fire, bringing thousands of people to the streets to demand change. Protests and road blocks in and out of key cities has lead to schools, businesses, public services etc. being forced to close for a week now, and as things are, the stand off between opposition parties calling for change and the Government, remains an unresolved stale mate. (Picture below of one of our ambulance drivers working in previous protests)
Our partner hospital has been impacted by these realities so we appreciate the strain of the population. Trying to make the hospitals budget balance this year was tough. With reduced international support and rising inflation, demands for salary increases etc. it was no easy task. Then there's the national fuel shortage. Even last week in a meeting with one of the heads of the hospital, we were regularly interrupted as she took calls trying to find a way to get the hospital some extra fuel. Electricity is a challenge at the best of times in Haiti, but when your generator diesel is running on reserves and there's a national shortage, the risk of having to close services becomes very real. Fortunately at this time, whilst some services at other clinics and hospitals have been forced to close, the amazing staff at our hospital have worked tirelessly (many working for days at a time as pictured below) to keep the hospital open and ready to receive emergency cases.
Beyond our hospital walls though, the real impact is no doubt being felt by the very poorest. According to the World Bank, 24% of Haitians still live in extreme poverty (less than $1.23 a day), with 59% of the population living below the national poverty line of $2.41 a day. The strain on these families is significant and real, where meeting daily basic needs becomes harder and harder in the face of huge inflation and a weakening currency.
Whilst this is an uncertain time, HHA remain active responding to the on-going needs of the population. The current protests bring to light the very real needs Haiti faces and we will continue to assist in anyway we can. Our local team would of course appreciate your prayers, and if you're looking for a few prayer pointers...here's some help...
- Please pray for wisdom and discernment of our hospital leadership team on how to keep staff safe, manage fuel reserves, deal with food/water shortages etc. and of course help those patients in need.
- Please pray for our local Haitian staff, many working over time to ensure hospital care continues. Please also pray for our foreign team who've been on lock down for much of the last week. This can be frustrating and demoralising.
- Please pray for the political deadlock to be resolved so that a genuine, peaceful resolution can be found that starts getting to the heart of the issues, allowing Haiti to fulfil all its amazing potential.
- Please pray for the most vulnerable, for those who don't have the luxury of reserve food supplies and generators etc. For those who are impacted most by these realities.