I hope you and your families are staying safe and calm during these challenging times. As we read about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic across the world, I’m sure you have been wondering what the situation is for our friends in Haiti.
It has been reported this week that there are now 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country, up from two last Thursday which came from travelers arriving from Europe. President Jovenel Moise declared a state of emergency, ordering schools, factories and places of worship to close, closing the border and imposing a curfew to prevent the spread of the virus. Many of us are feeling the fear and economic effects of similar orders in the United States and elsewhere, so you can only imagine how severe this situation is on the Haitian people. Most of the population was already struggling to survive in the current political and economic crisis, so this new reality threatens to be devastating. Inflation and violence have spiked once again, and food shortages are deepening across the country.
Na Rive’s Program Director, Lavarice Gaudin, has closed the Fr. Jeri School accordingly and in the week before closure, he implemented sanitation measures across the school, training students and staff on how to clean their hands and do so at frequent intervals during the day. In order to support students during the closedown, teachers are communicating with them via text messages to continue their studies as best they can. And thanks to your support and the staff’s persistence, the food program continues to provide critically needed meals. Since the school and community cafeterias are closed, nutritious hot meals are now packaged in takeout containers, so children and families queuing outside can just collect their meal and eat away from the crowds. The Food Pantry has also expanded its operations to deliver more parcels of food to those coming from afar so they can cook at home. All of this is done with respect for the safety of the kitchen staff and the meal recipients, who are required to wash their hands and maintain 6 feet of distance from one another.
Says Lavarice: “We were already in a crisis here. People were already hungry, so this is making life even more difficult for everyone. Our focus is to keep as many children and families as possible fed and safe. And in these circumstances, sanitation is almost as important. After seeing how well the handwashing stations worked at the school, we are now planning to distribute buckets and soap to families in the poorest and most abandoned neighborhoods to slow contagion of the virus. These are dark times, but our hope is strong, and we’ll continue to do what we can for these children day after day.”
Lavarice and Na Rive’s perseverance and resourcefulness has allowed them to act quickly and effectively in every crisis they have faced during the last 20 years — be it hurricanes, earthquakes, cholera or political upheaval. And thanks to the grace and generosity of donors like you, we are able to support them and make these programs a reality, maintaining sustenance, opportunity and hope for the future.
In these unprecedented circumstances, we will reach out to you as often as we can with updates about the situation and the incredible, never-ending resilience of our partners.
With gratitude and hope,
Interim Executive Director