• OfC during times of political and economic turmoil in Haiti

    Over the past few months, Haiti has been experiencing the results of broken promises, failed leadership, frustrated hopes, and lack of opportunities. While we often hear of hurricanes and an occasional temblor, Haiti’s troubles aren’t matters of weather, or products of geology. Hurricanes, droughts, and earthquakes have always been parts of the nation’s existence. The real problems in Haiti are human-induced. Overall, the Haitian people are gracious, generous, honorable, proud, and deeply spiritual. Anyone, though, whose daily struggles to simply exist are compounded by the greed of a few will inevitably reach a breaking point. In asking where billions of dollars of development aid have gone in recent years, the people are telling the world they are at that point. This has led to demonstrations and occasional violence; some people feel they have nothing else to lose. Indeed, many of them don’t have anything material to lose and what they are trying to do is hold on to hope, retain self-respect, and get some kind of acknowledgement that they are heard, they are recognized, they are appreciated and respected as full human beings with rights – the right to life, the right to ambition, the right to hope, the right to even just live.

    OfC maintains nearly daily contact with our Haitian partners – Edilson Timothe and Wilbert Eliscar – and the news we receive is shocking and saddening. Edilson and Wilbert remind us they are proud to be Haitian and love their country, but that the events of the last months sadden them and make it hard to provide even basic support for their families.

    Haitians are frustrated with their government’s inability to address their basic needs of food, fuel, education, and health care. Reportedly billions of dollars of PetroCaribe development money vanished with no tangible investment in housing, agricultural, education, health, and economic development. Protests – often violent – force people to stay home. Vendors are afraid to display whatever goods are still available to sell.

    Our Maranatha School stayed open as long as possible, but had to suspend classes so that students can remain safely at home.

    Because of the political instability throughout Haiti, OfC has not been able to offer experiential learning courses for our US students this year. Nonetheless, our programs in Haiti continue to serve our Haitian students, staff and community.

    We continue to raise funds to complete construction of the Maranatha School computer resource room – please consider making an end-of-year donation so that we can start 2020 with computer literacy training for all our Maranatha School students!

    From Wilbert Eliscar, Manager for OfC’s Lekòl Dete, Maranatha School (November 7, 2019)

    “I don’t find any words to explain how my country is almost unsafe almost unviable in this moment, more than 3 months without power, gas, security, or transportation, and everything is triple price. During the day sometimes people with gun in hands ask some others on the street for money under pressure. We cannot drive or ride at any time like the years before. We are living by God’s grace. I spend all my time at home without work and I just got married so it’s very hard for me to take care of my family. I pray God to help us have a new Haiti.”

    From Edilson Timothe, OfC Program Manager (November 23, 2019)

    “We are not living in the best moment of our life because of the political, economic and educational situation in our country. There are some situations that happen in many other countries but never equal to everything that is happening in Haiti at the present time. Misery increases throughout the country, the government is currently asking for food assistance from the USA. I have to thank USCOMFORT for helping 3,500 people who had no medical assistance.

    For now, the schools are working very badly. Schools work depending on their locations; the closer to the city, the less chance they have to open their doors and the farther from the city, the more opportunity they have to save some school days, sometimes without uniforms to ensure student safety.

    Market and Banks open their doors at 10AM if there are no fires in the street and close at 2PM because at this time the anti-government protests begin. Currently, sugar is the most luxurious product on the market due to the doubling of prices, and the level of crime is increasing.

    The city has been without electricity for a long time. The good news is that our solar system at Maranatha School is not affected.”

    Every gift to OfC goes directly into our projects. While we are not an aid organization, we assure you that your money goes into the Haitian economy at the grass roots.

  • OfC’s Maranatha School has solar power!

    OfC’s Maranatha School – completed (thanks to so many of you!) in 2015 – now has solar electricity.

    United Technologies Aerospace Systems (UTAS, Windsor Locks, CT) provided OfC with a grant, specialized equipment, lots of helping hands and hard work so that teachers and students can have lights and fans. More importantly, the School now will be able to support computer training, sewing classes and evening activities.

    OfC supporter, Marty Ross, was instrumental in envisioning the project, and working with coworkers at UTAS, won the competitive grant to sponsor the solar electric project. Marty and OfC president Doug Albertson lead a team in Les Cayes in late January/early February to install the solar electric system.

    The installation went without a hitch. Wilbert Eliscar – OfC’s Lekòl Dete Director and American University of Les Cayes engineering student orchestrated all stages of the installation: arranging for custom frames to be built for the panels, pouring concrete footings to hold them in place, hoisting the panels onto roof, mounting the charge controller and inverter inside the office, and connecting all of the components. Everything was done in just a couple of days!

    Please check out the video from UTAS:

    Please consider earmarking your donation to further empowering the School and the students!