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.