|Continuing Education Opportunities|
by Asnel Valcin
A Child has been assaulted and killed while being taken to school in Port-au-Prince; a Woman has been raped repeatedly by thirty gang members near Liancourt in the Department of Artibonite; last Sunday 80 people including a family of 7 have been murdered near Acierie D’haiti. In Haiti, these events are not even news.
This callous disregard for human life and the population’s basic human rights are regular occurrences in Haiti. While the extreme violence affects all areas of life in Haiti, children’s health, education, mental health, and religious freedom are the most impacted. In Haiti, there is a disturbing pattern of violence and disregard for human life, where incidents like child assault and murder, repeated rape, and mass killings have become regular occurrences.
The UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) released a report revealing a 28% increase in murders and kidnappings compared to the first quarter of the previous year. In April alone, more than 600 people were killed due to violence, and another 846 people were killed in the first three months of 2023. Shockingly, 42 of the victims were children. According to the report, gangs hired snipers to shoot innocent people from nearby rooftops while they went about their daily activities. These gangs also terrorized communities by invading neighborhoods, burning people alive in public transportation vehicles, and executing anyone perceived to be opposed to them. Additionally, the report highlighted the use of collective rape and sexual violence to inflict pain and terror on conquered individuals.
In the span of a year, at least 652 girls and women were subjected to individual and collective rape in gang-controlled neighborhoods. The violence in Haiti has had severe effects on children's health, education, and mental well-being. UNICEF has noted a direct correlation between the violence and food insecurity, leading to an increase in cases of acute malnutrition. Parents who are unable to work freely and provide for their families are unable to put food on the table, resulting in 115,600 children suffering from acute malnutrition in 2023 compared to 87,500 the previous year.
Additionally, there has been a rise of 41,000 cases of cholera, with 46% of them affecting children under the age of 14. The education system in Haiti has also been severely impacted by the violence. Acts of armed violence against schools, including shooting, ransacking, looting, and kidnappings, have increased significantly. In one year, the targeting of schools has increased nine-fold, with 72 schools being targeted and two teachers and one student being killed. The looting of school equipment and supplies, including essential items like desks, laptops, and school meals, has further disrupted children's learning. The fear of going to school and the absence of educational opportunities make children more vulnerable to being recruited by armed gangs.
Furthermore, the violence has affected religious freedom in Haiti. Churches, which were once considered safe spaces for worship, have now become targets. Armed gang members have entered churches, kidnapped individuals, robbed treasuries, and even set churches on fire. These acts of violence have caused many Christians to fear attending church services, impacting their religious practices and sense of safety.
The situation in Haiti is worsened by the weakness and inability of the central government to control the escalating violence. This pervasive fear and insecurity have led individuals to describe their living conditions as "pure hell," even within the privacy of their own homes.
To this end, I am asking the entire world to come together on Saturday, June 24th, at 3:00pm, to Pray to God for the re-birth of Haiti. The next day, Sunday July 25th, there will be another meeting that follows the same format. Log on to www.AMHaiti.org, or call us at (732) 642-2452, to make a pledge of financial contribution. Let’s pray for the 4.9 million Haitians on the brink of severe famine; for Children to go to school safely, and Freedom for people to go to church and worship with peace of mind.
Dr. Valcin is a Diplomate Supervisor in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE/T). He is a Board-Certified Clinical Chaplain and Pastoral Counselor. Dr. Asnel Valcin is presently the Director of the Pastoral Care and Education Department for one of New York’s healthcare systems. He was the Chair for the Certification Committee with the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy (CPSP). Dr. Valcin is an international speaker and seminar presenter. Dr. Valcin is the Executive Director of AMI Haiti an organization dedicated to providing disadvantaged children the opportunity to fulfill their life’s purpose.