While many schools and businesses are temporarily closed down due to protests in Haiti, Josh and Beth Gray, Thrive Ansanm Haiti’s Co-directors, sat down with Thrive Ansanm students to understand their unique perspectives on hope in difficult circumstances.
Note: All student quotes translated from Haitian Creole.
If you’ve followed Haiti in the news at all lately, you know that the country is in the midst of a political crisis. Thousands of people are taking to the streets almost daily to demand changes in the current government. They’re burning tires, throwing rocks, and blocking roads demanding that the current president step down amidst accusations of corruption. This situation has effectively crippled the country. Schools, stores, banks, and gas stations are closing their doors. They call this “peyi lok” which means “the country is locked.”
Thrive Ansanm student Diemsonn Victor had this to say, “Currently the situation is not very good. It’s not good at all because you have children that can’t go to school, and me too with the current situation I cannot go to school.”
Thrive Ansanm student Elie Lormil adds, “Children can’t go to school, parents can’t work to help their children, so I think the country is really, really bad. We just keep trusting that people can sit down and talk, so schools can open again.”
There’s a general feeling of frustration and anger everywhere, and people don’t know what to do.
Thrive Ansanm student Dullon Joseph observes, “We protest often, we the Haitian people. We hold a bunch of demonstrations, a bunch of protests always culminating with no results. They make things worse. Things get worse every day.”
He goes on to say, “The only thing that I could say is that for myself, a young man living in Haiti today, what we need is hope for tomorrow to be better.”
We asked Dullon if he believes that the country can change, and he said, “If we work for this it will change, but who’s going to do this? This is what makes us lose hope, because everyone is looking out for their own interests.”
Hope is at the very heart of the mission of Thrive Ansanm. When we work together to provide a scholarship for a student, we give the gift of education, but we also bring hope where it is lacking.
We asked Elie if he had hope for the future and he responded, “We have a Haitian proverb that says, ‘Depi gen tet, nou toujou espere mete chapo.’ (‘If you have a head, you always hope for a hat.’)”
“Hope in Haiti is very scarce. It’s very scarce, but you should still have hope.”
He says, “You must have dedication; you must have faith in yourself. You must know why you are fighting, why you go to school, why you go to work.”
While the country is in turmoil, those of us on the Thrive Ansanm team remain here in Haiti, and even though our students are temporarily unable to go to school the doors of the Thrive Ansanm resource center remain open. Here students gather on a daily basis. Yes, they study and, sure, there are plenty of conversations about the current political situation, but it’s also a place where they can just hang out, laugh, and play games.
This kind of community is needed in times like these because community brings solidarity and hope.
For us as directors of Thrive Ansanm in Haiti, we find encouragement when we see the young people of Haiti, young people like Diemsonn, Elie, and Dullon who are fighting for hope and striving to live a life that’s different, a life that isn’t just about looking after your own interests, as Dullon said, but also about serving others.
Elie says, “It’s the young people who have strength, and the country has strength, has strength in community. I think we have hope; we have hope in Haiti. We just need to put our heads together.”
While many schools are postponing school days and classes until protests die down, this is an incredible opportunity to come alongside a few more students this school year! Help us complete our current Thrive Ansanm scholarship, and help one more student go back to school when classes resume!