Haitian Children Still Unable to Return to School Due to Social Unrest
While much has changed since the Brian Young Foundation first came to Haiti, the struggle has not. Initially drawn by natural disasters, the socio-economic consequences surrounding Haiti have erupted into unrest and chaos. While violent protests emerged last month in Port-Au-Prince, thousands of Haitians are still in need. Political conflict is disrupting local schools, emergency services, and orphanages. Locals citizens are placing pressure on the interim President, Jovenel Moise, to resign. They are using their voices in the streets, demonstrating against inflation, corruption, and poor management of essential resources like food and gasoline.
To reach a resolution, Haitian citizens want Moise to resign. Unwilling, Moise reluctantly nominated a replacement prime minister, which was recently rejected by the opposition. The vote to be confirmed was postponed on September 23rd when chaos unleashed at the event. An Associated Press photographer and a security guard were struck and injured when a senator discharged his pistol, claiming to be protecting himself from protestors.
But every day, the delay in negotiations is hurting Haitians more. Inflation is occurring rapidly. About 60 percent of Haitians are already living in poverty, often living on less than $2 a day. The economy has been paralyzed. Roads are closed, disrupting the supply of important resources. Shortages of fuel and safe water are restricting distribution to the areas that need it the most, adding to the turmoil.
Unfortunately, it is the children that are being hurt the most. For the past two weeks, schools across the island have been closed. The United Nations has estimated that 2 million children are being kept from attending school. This has exponentially added to the already terrible hunger crisis the country has been experiencing. Many of us at the Brian Young Foundation have witnessed this disorder firsthand. That is why it is a priority for us that the children in the orphanages we support have access to education.
Schools are fundamental in Haiti because they provide children with food and safety during the day. The childcare allows parents to work while their kids are supervised. This helps protect vulnerable children. On the streets, they are subject to abuse, neglect, and violence. In school, they are nurtured and have normalcy. It is vital that we help now to avoid more children ending up in the already overcrowded orphanages.
In Haiti, a proper education has the power to increase a child’s chance of survival. Taking away the opportunities that public school provides these underserved children is a violation of their basic human rights. The people of Haiti have long-held education at the center of their desire to build a better society. They believe that a stronger educational system benefits the entire society. Part of these protests is pressure on local government to support this belief.
They are asking for the enaction of The Safe Schools Declaration’s protocols. The humanitarian guide was released in 2016 as a global initiative meant to ensure that public education continues during political conflict. The report outlines seven measures that authorities can use to ensure a safe learning environment amidst military conflict. It suggests that to build a foundation for school-based protection, local governments must develop safety and security plans. Also recommended is including implementing early warning systems when conflict is near a school, including mandated protections of schools in negotiations, and a network of psychosocial support for students affected by trauma. Haitian officials said they supported the measure, but the implementation has been a different story. We at the Brian Young Foundation ask you to join us as we continue to pray for the leaders of Haiti as they rebuild a safe, effective child welfare system.