Following recent protests, political clashes, kidnappings, and even the presidential assassination attempt in February, it is easy to look at Haiti right now and feel that there is an overwhelming shadow blocking out all light and hope. Basic necessities like food, clean water, and electricity are growing to be luxuries for many.
At Branch Schools, these struggles are experienced firsthand by the young students. High food prices and difficult traveling conditions restrict access to the meals, snacks, and cistern water delivery that Branch Schools funds. The rising danger has also forced many parents to keep their children at home for safety.
Director Yvette in Smyrne operates the largest school and orphanage of Branch Schools, with 470 students currently able to attend. For four months, she and the children have suffered a lack of electricity resulting from the extreme economic hardship affecting people all across Haiti. Yvette's electricity was provided by a private company that serviced the whole area, but her neighbors became unable to pay for their portion. Eventually, the electric company shut off the power and removed the electrical boxes, leaving the entire neighborhood--including Yvette's orphanage and school--completely without electricity. Once the sun goes down, there is no light on the premises at all. The orphans who reside there are unable to do their work and studies and the school classrooms cannot be lit.
Yvette hopes to purchase solar panels at a cost of $2,745 and install them at her school. These desperately-needed panels can eliminate the reliance on electric companies and bring light back into the orphanage and classrooms for the hundreds of children who are struggling in this darkness.
Yet, in the midst of the physical darkness across Haiti, Jesus' eternal light shines clearly. The message of salvation proclaimed at Branch Schools includes these comforting words: "Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'" (John 8:12)
We thank God for His constant presence at Branch Schools and for touching the hearts of so many people who donate to keep the schools open. With your help, Branch Schools can both continue to share the saving light of God's grace and bring back the physical light to fill the darkness once again.
Will you please consider donating to Yvette's solar panel fund? If 110 people give just $25, Yvette can bring the new solar panels home today!
Please help us share this message with your friends and family! (Any donations that exceed our $2,745 goal will go directly towards the other expenses of the schools.)
"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." (John 1:5)
Haiti made the news frequently in February, bringing attention to the growing unrest and political clashes. Protests are increasing in both frequency and intensity, reflecting the rising tensions. On February 10th, a large group of protestors took to the streets in Port-au-Prince and faced tear gas from the police. The road for Haiti to get here began five years ago, in February 2016.
According to Haiti's constitution, presidential elections are held in February and a president's term is five years. In February 2016, current president Jovenel Moise narrowly won a run-off but was unable to take office when the election was contested. It took a year for the election to be resolved, and Moise was not sworn in until February 2017.
Today, that gap year is making a big difference. Moise and his supporters claim that his term will end in February 2022 because it didn't begin until 2017. His opponents argue that Moise should step down now because he won the election originally in 2016. Calls for Moise to end his term began in early February and quickly turned violent in an assassination attempt on February 7.
All of the uncertainty, division, and unrest has brought tensions to a breaking point. There are gangs moving throughout Haiti robbing anyone they can, especially those carrying cash, but they face no consequences. It is not safe to travel, restricting food trucks from making deliveries and sending food prices skyrocketing. Schools were closed for over a week in February out of concern for the safety of children amidst kidnappings.
Branch Schools also closed temporarily to protect the students. The three schools in the Port-au-Prince area, where much of the protesting is occurring, remained closed longer than expected--a little over a week. The Pilate middle school was able to reopen sooner due to being in a safer area. The increasing difficulty of buying and receiving food deliveries has also affected Branch Schools, which provides nutritious snacks to students at Carrefour and Smyrne and a full meal to every orphan.
We thank God for His protecting hand on Branch Schools and pray that the tensions and danger in all of Haiti will cease soon, and ask for your continued prayers as well. We know that God is watching over Haiti and He has a plan. These difficult times are also an opportunity for us to share the comfort and healing found in God's Word, and we are happy that school has resumed so that the children at Branch Schools continue to receive this spiritual nourishment. Please don't hesitate to contact Branch Schools with any questions!
Emily Helmen, Development Coordinator
Branch Lutheran Schools of Haiti, Inc.