by Kayla Raymond
It’s seems with all the transitions, people are asking and wondering what’s next for us. So, I thought before we get into writing the hard stuff (avoidance is bliss) we would cover some frequently asked questions.
1. How long are you here for / when are you going back?
We don’t know! Our initial plans were to spend the fall in America to welcome Zion and stay through Christmas, but with all the unrest in Haiti, it wouldn’t be safe nor wise to go back at this point. Two weeks ago we actually met with a lawyer and we have decided to move forward with Webert’s residency process by applying for his green card. During this application, while waiting to receive the green card, Webert will not be able to travel to Haiti. We hope to receive the green card by May 2020. As for the kids, we will be able to get extensions on their visas, since they are here on visitor visas as well, so the plans are to see them finish the entire school here!
2. How are the kids doing at school?
Amazing! Of course, there have been some hiccups and frustrations, but overall they’re thrilled to go to school every day and are growing in so many ways. The boys have done a great job making new friends and Wishla is speaking mostly only English at home, which blows me away as she was speaking very minimal English before. Their biggest complaint would probably be all the vaccinations they have had to get; I believe, combined, they’ve had 28 shots since August! Jephte and Loveson are in the fourth grade, but in separate classrooms. Jephte’s favorite subject is recess, naturally. Loveson’s favorite subject is math. Wishla is in the first grade and she loves writing and art! They all have amazing teachers, who match their personalities so well, and it’s been a culture shock even to me at the resources they have access to. All three of them meet one-on-one with an ESL teacher every day for twenty minutes and Wishla even meets with someone to work on sensory and coordination. Seriously, I grew up taking for granted the education I had access to and I’m beyond grateful to be back in my hometown dropping my kiddos off at the same elementary school I went to!
3. How is Haiti?
4. When will it get better?
There’s no end in sight at the moment.
5. Why is Haiti so bad right now?
The current issues are beyond complicated and messy. I’m not very good when it comes to politics nor would I consider myself a great history teacher, but to fully understand what’s going on in Haiti, you need to be aware of the common theme in Haiti’s history, whose government has always been corrupt and unaccountable to its people. I think it’s also important to point out the young in Haiti right now is Haiti’s first somewhat educated generation. Their access to the internet and social media is allowing them to call out the government and its leaders on its corruption.
The biggest question they are asking today is “kote kob PetroKaribe?” Where’s the PetroKaribe money? In 2008, Haiti made a deal with Venezuela to receive oil at discounted prices on conditions of preferential payments. The purpose was to allow Haiti to be able to make a profit on the oil and use those profits to build schools, hospitals and infrastructure. Instead, Haiti’s leaders lined their pockets with the money.
When Webert explains the situation, he always tells the story of the president building a $9 million home during this time period, an example of the true reality of how these funds were used.
The current president, Jovenel Moise, is accused of embezzling a large amount of money as well and misappropriating funds through his construction businesses. Again, with the population having access to all of this information and the ability to reason and call out these crimes, Haiti is essentially at war with its government.
I used the word ability and I just want to explain. Because, think about it, in all of Haiti’s history its been oppressing an uneducated population. Statistics say today:
- Haiti’s literacy rate is 61% – 64% for males and 57% for females. (CIA Factbook Nov 2015) The average literacy rate for Latin American and Caribbean developing countries is 92%. (World Bank 2015)
- Only 29 percent of Haitians 25 and above attended secondary school. (USAID 2015)
- 50 percent of children do not attend school at all.
But, even with those staggering statistics of today, ten or fifteen years ago it was far worse. So, if you have a population that can’t read, let alone use the internet to research current issues, how would you ever be able to hold your own government accountable? Just in forming these last three paragraphs, I opened three new browser windows and performed three individual searches and read two full articles; our ability to access information and have a voice and/or platform to use that information is a privilege. It’s kind of mind blowing to think that if I were to hand all the women in the village I live in a smartphone with this blog pulled up, less than half of them would even be able to read it!
On top of all the stolen money and corruption, the economy itself has been plummeting for the last 18 months. Inflation has increased significantly, the prices in the markets are skyrocketing and the availability of gas is minimal. All of these factors are what’s driving the people to demonstrate and riot in the streets….and can we blame them?
Just for a second, imagine if you woke up tomorrow and on your way to run your errands you stopped at the gas station, only to realize they were out of gas. You’d then spend your entire day searching for gas and not accomplishing anything on your to-do list. Imagine how quickly you’d lose your patience and how long the line would be at the gas station as so many other people rely on gas as well. I think it’s safe to say there’d be a widespread panic and more than likely a few choice words would be said and maybe even a few physical fights happening at the gas pump.
You finally find gas at the end of the day; tomorrow you’ll run your errands. Tomorrow comes and you arrive at the grocery store with a long list of the things you need, but you notice all the prices have gone up 30% – you’ll only be able to buy half of the things you need.
You’ll also have to take a long detour on the way home because the main highway to your house is blocked with people protesting the rise in inflation; they’re just as upset as you are.
You’ll get home late. You’re upset and ashamed to tell your children you didn’t have enough money to buy all the groceries they had asked for. You’ll stay home with them tomorrow because their schools have been closed for weeks too, due to all the violence and protesting in the streets.
You’re going a bit stir crazy, having to stay home every day, unable to answer the hard “why’s” your children are asking; unable to understand why there’s no gas, expensive market prices and no school. You don’t have access to nightly news or google to look up why this is all happening, but a few days later you hear some people talking about all the money the leaders of your country stole and because of their crimes, you are now the one suffering. I’d imagine by now you’d be more than angry; the need for justice would come to a boiling point.
Tomorrow, you choose to use your voice the only way you know you can:
You join the protestors in the streets.
While typing this scenario out, I quickly opened another web browser and searched, “what happens when the government is not held accountable?” which led to “what happens when there is no order in a country?”
…because, that’s what it feels like: the Wild, Wild West. Late this spring, there were containers filled with artillery and guns that had all been imported. The local judge reported this over the radio after seeing the containers and was then removed from his position of authority the very next day. You see, the corruption is so engrained in the government, the people with the money control everyone from the gangs (who they pay at times to be violent in the streets) to the local judges. Imagine how easily the oppress and control the poor and illiterate in the nation.
Google’s answer to this question:
“If a country will not have laws and order then it will be real hard to govern. People may kill each other as there will be no reason to arrest him or something. A place without any law and order could be dangerous for anyone as his/her rights can easily be violated.”
So, there you have it, my personal explanation of why Haiti is so bad right now.
I think that covers our most frequently asked questions, if you have more, please leave them in the comments!