November 9, 2021 Update

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Dear Friends and all who care about Haiti,


I hope you are sitting down because you are about to read a rollercoaster-ride update! During the month of October 2021, I made another trip to Haiti, and yes, this trip was made against the advice of our government who cautioned about the civil unrest in Haiti. Why did I go? Because suffering people still need our help.


The group who has been aided, fed, and clothed by our charity has grown to 26 students and one baby. I will not give up on them, and I appreciate that you will not abandon them either. Thank you so much for standing beside me in this mission.


My agenda for my current visit was as follows:

1.          Talk with the director of Nursing, Director Madame Joseph;

2.         Pay the tuition for our current doctor in training;

3.         Visit and connect with as many former students as possible.


I did not realize the hazards and struggles I would face with this trip. When I first attempted to depart on October 8, I was stopped at the American Airlines counter because I needed proof of a negative Covid test. It was supposed to have been taken three days prior to my departure. I’m usually a savvy traveler but made the mistake of assuming that my three doses of the vaccination listed on my vaccination card would be enough. It wasn’t. Ah, but we've all had to learn to be flexible in this changing world and I am respectful of that. I adjusted and delayed my departure for eight day. This meant my new departure was scheduled on October 16, 2021. If that date doesn’t ring any bells, read on to find out why this is significant.


After spending 14 hours traveling to Haiti, I landed to discover the scary news that 16 Americans and one Canadian working with Christian Aid Ministries had just been kidnapped. As of the date of writing this newsletter, they’re still being held. They’ve been held for 25 days thus far, and the ransom demanded by their kidnappers is one million dollars per person. Please pray for them.


Needless to say, I was on high alert. Add to that, my worry heightened because my niece from Rhode Island, Patricia Provost, joined me to lend extra support. She saw Haiti at its worst. Kidnappings in the country have increased by 300%, and the recent event pushed Haiti into a lockdown situation. Gas stations suddenly closed. Truckers went on strike for more wages, and the streets were amassed with gangs of roving thieves looking for victims.


Sadly, the good people in Haiti face one set-back after another. I’ll share about transportation, gasoline, and food as examples. Firstly, because of trusted relationships I have formed over the years, I was able to pre-arrange transportation from the airport to the clinic with a safe individual who served as our driver. He checked road conditions at 4:00 am and again at 6:00 am and made sure his car had mirrored windows so would-be kidnappers couldn’t see that he had Americans inside. Furthermore, traffic disruptions were everywhere as noticed by the black smoking tiers that indicated fires on the roads.

Gas stations shut down the day after my arrival, and the next day gas suddenly went for sale on the black market—Gas in Haiti normally costs $5.00 per gallon. Now, it was $7.50. The next day, the same gas was $12.50 per gallon, and by the time I departed it had skyrocketed to $25.00 per gallon!


One problem generally leads to the next, and so this one led to food shortages. Because of the turmoil and difficulty in transporting and receiving shipments, food items in stores suddenly became more expensive—this would be horrible news for anyone, but it is especially harsh for people who already earn very little.


What does this mean for the poor Haitian people? The hard life they live just got harder.


I tried to conduct my business in Haiti by phone and by having the students come to the clinic to talk with me one-on-one. Some were able. Others were not. For those who could make it, I provided boxes of free food and goods. For those who were not, the supplies are boxed and waiting for them. These boxes are packed with groceries thanks to generous donations made by you and those who support The Friends of Haiti Inc. Again, thank you. Every can of tuna and every dollar donated goes a long long way. Please know that you have made a big difference in another human’s life.


On this trip, I had intended to visit the family of the baby our charity supports (as you’ll recall, the mother died in childbirth) and also the student whom we supported through a tough surgery. Unfortunately, too many literal roadblocks prevented me from going to those towns and from moving about the country. On a side note, in the coming months we will begin supporting another newborn. Please keep us in your prayers as we navigate figuring out how to do this, how to get through the supply chain crisis, and also please keep this child in your prayers.


On my return home, I faced my final struggle. I needed another Covid test to make sure I was Covid-free prior to stepping foot back into the United States. First, I had to find a testing clinic. Next, I discovered my transportation cost to travel to the clinic had tripled! This happened because of the new $25.00 a gallon gas price, plus the pre-movement road checks, plus the danger to move about. And then, when we finally arrived at the clinic, we were informed that they would not be administering tests that day. Fortunately, Patricia and I were able to detour to the airport, get the required test, and receive the documents we needed. Phew!


On a final note, I beg that you please not let the hooligans in the news plant an image in your brain of who Haitians are. The regular people of Haiti are gentle, kind, and loving. I am always happy to see them, and the sentiment is returned. They are generous and welcoming, and they are willing to share whatever meager offerings they can. No matter how little they have, they want to make space at their table for me.


My eight-day trip to Haiti was both happy and sad. Truth be told, I am very grateful to be back on U.S. soil and home.  Many thanks go to my niece Patricia for assisting on this journey, to Food for the Poor for transporting supplies to our students, to you and your private donations, and to the food pantry at Saint Thomas More Catholic Church who made sure that my suitcases for Haiti were packed to the brim with good food for the students.


If you would like to make a donation to TFOHI, please click the DONATE NOW button at the top of this page. Remember, our charity director and volunteers do not pay themselves or take any kind of salary. 100% of your donation supports the people in Haiti.


Joseph Provost

President, TFOHI