JÉRÉMIE, HAITI – Haiti could be a poster-child for disaster. It seems like it is bound by disasters linked together like an endless chain.
The impoverished nation had not fully recovered from the massive 2010 earthquake when it was ravaged by Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Even without these natural disasters, three-quarters of the households have no running water and limited access to clean water sources.
For these and other reasons, Haiti is not the safest place on the planet. The most common causes of death in the country include HIV/AIDS, malaria, dengue fever, typhoid, meningitis, intestinal parasites, and bacterial and protozoal diarrhea. The mortality rate from tuberculosis is ten times higher than all of the rest of the Caribbean nations.
This begs the question, “Why would anyone want to go to Haiti?” Many, if not most, visitors to Haiti arrive with NGOs and FBOs and remain for a limited time, usually a week or two.
Lindsay Anderson founded HSMS Haiti in 2011 in response to the Lord’s call on her life during an initial visit in 2010. From the beginning, she felt called to lead from the front. That’s why, when the United States Embassy in Haiti advised “American citizens who wish to return to the United States should plan to do so immediately,” she chose to stay.
The State Department issued its March 29 health alert, not because of the Coronavirus per se, but because it was “not aware of any flights from Haiti to the United States after March 30, or if any flights will be authorized in the future.” The embassy advised that those who chose to stay should plan on remaining for an indefinite period.
That did not change the call on Anderson’s life. In fact, she said,
“I’m glad to be here. There isn’t fear like it seems to be in the States. We are used to crazy things coming up like this, and we are just taking it day by day as most Haitians do anyhow. I was here when a couple of other diseases swept through; cholera, chikungunya, pink eye, and measles, and they just went through like life just goes on.”
Anderson’s commitment to serving the people in Haiti is anchored in the assurance that God is in control. At least as of this time, she does not appear to be in any danger of contracting the Coronavirus. To date, Haiti has registered only 18 cases and no deaths. The country closed its borders with the Dominican Republic with which it shares the island of Hispaniola, where 68 have died.
The FBO’s programs in Haiti include childhood education at the HSMS Academy, the first of its kind in the Jérémie area. The full-time school has a Dual-Language Immersion Program. The morning lessons are in English. Afternoons are in French.
An intensive Adult English School is another of HSMS programs. The HSMS website explains, “In a country that struggles to offer the World distinction and who are often bound by a Haitian Creole language barrier, English puts an individual a head above the rest for employability furthered learning opportunities.”
Of course, community development and building projects typical of many FBOs are also part of HSMS services to the local area.
Anderson explained her perspective on the Coronavirus and her work in Haiti with a statement that should impress us all.
“I see and hear much fear in the world, and I think many have wandered from their assurance of who sits on the THRONE and who has counted the number of our days. Life after our day of salvation is spent for HIM, and so if the day comes to say goodbye to this world, we hear a ‘welcome to heaven.’ It’s a win. Why do we cling so strongly to this life unless we fear or lack assurance of what comes after our last breath?”
In case you were wondering what HSMS means, it is a description of what motivates Anderson. It stands for Heart and Soul and Mind and Strength. That says something.
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