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Campus Update: Violent Protests in Haiti

Many of you have expressed concern about the violent protests plaguing Haiti during the past week. You have asked about the children and staff at Pwoje Espwa and what you can do.

Our first request would be to pray for the people of Haiti, especially the most vulnerable who are often the most affected by the crisis, and then for our children and staff.

We are facing challenges at Espwa. Although we took actions to prepare for the current crisis, the end of the violence is unknown so we will need your ongoing support.

Please read the information below for a brief description of the events and the ways you can help us through this crisis and recovery period.

 

Why are people protesting?

Thousands of Haitians have taken to the streets in response to skyrocketing prices, double-digit inflation, currency devaluation, and corruption, calling for the resignation of President Moise.

Where are protests occurring?

This crisis is occurring in cities throughout the country, especially in the capital of Port-au-Prince and including our local area. With Les Cayes being the second largest city, we are also seeing significant activity of protest and violence.

  • Local markets have been closed for the better part of a week.
  • Many streets are being blocked by barriers and burning tires; movement of people and supplies is limited.
  • Local vendors and businesses are being robbed and looted. Many of our primary vendors have been victims of the most recent attacks.

 

The well-being and safety of our children, their families, and our staff is our highest priority.

We stay prepared to endure times of crisis and, especially if we have prior knowledge, take steps to increase our stock to sustain an extended period of unrest or recovery. However, due to our ability to stay prepared, we are at risk to gang activity as well.

How are we caring for the children at this time?

  • Last June, we took aggressive measures to construct a wall around the campus of Espwa to protect our children and prevent the entry of unauthorized individuals. We took a step of faith to build this wall and provide the security necessary for times such as this. It is working!
  • Without being able to go to the markets, we are continuing to provide nutritious meals to our staff and children with MannaPack. One of several food programs, FTK provides for PES a healthy supply of MannaPack meals through an In-Country Food Partner Program. We keep a good stock of food for emergencies like our current situation or other natural disasters.
  • Security is fully staffed and are working vigilantly 24/7 to ensure campus is secure and the children are safe.
  • Schools on campus have been closed for a week. Only essential personnel remain on campus to ensure the kids are being cared for.
  • For our students living off-campus in the Transition program, we have advised them to stay in shelter and if they are in need of supplies, our security team will provide their needs. If any of our young adults reach out to you, please assure them with your prayers and direct them to contact their program manager or general manager of PES for support.

When the situation has calmed, there will be a difficult period of recovery. Roads will be left damaged, hindering transportation. Supplies will be limited due to thefts and inability to receive stock from Port-au-Prince. The fuel supply is a great concern, as it was already being rationed prior to the outbreak of violence last week.

Our children’s families and staff will be facing an increased hardship with rising costs and shortage of supplies.  One of the ways we will respond to these needs is with outreach food distributions.

 

We encourage in-country purchasing, even in times of crisis. It is the best way to help the economy strengthen and avoid the increased cost of imports and transportation.

How you can help:

  • Support our food programs so we can maintain our partnership for essential food aid in times of crisis.
  • Funding for Shelter, Operations (safe transportation and fuel for our staff) and restocking of supplies after the crisis ends.
  • Make a special one-time gift to support our security staff, who are risking their lives and working 24/7 at full capacity, and for the maintenance of our security wall.

You can also text “ESPWA” to 44321 to DONATE NOW!

 


Read More:

I fell in love with Espwa during my first visit last year. Hard to put into words, but there was a real "heart" connection with the kids and staff. It is a special place. My visit was focused primarily on the girls and the teachers. Relationships were initiated during that first visit that I treasure very much!

- Maria Simeone

There is hardly a more heartbreaking sight than seeing an orphan in Haiti--many of them who have families who simply cannot feed and clothe them. Of course there is the emotional response to their plight, but there is a more pragmatic hope--that given a chance in a loving, caring environment, these children can grow up to be leaders, people who can move their communities and the country itself in a positive, healthy direction.

- Jackie Wilson

This place is amazing! The kids and their caregivers will restore your faith in the human spirit. The magic of Espwa is that there is a childhood provided for the kids there that would not exist otherwise.Haiti has a very very long way to go, but this is a hopeful place with clean, well fed, happy children, teachers, house moms, and support staff. Fr Marc and all of the others should be very proud of their accomplishments. Help them in any way that you can!

- Kerri McDonough Croland
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