I’ve been communicating for several hours since early this morning with my three closest contacts in Haiti.
- Justin – The Director of GBCCS, The Barefoot School, and The Alphabet School in Cité Soleil.
- Benoit – Justin’s right-hand man. All communications with Benoit is in Haitian Creole.
- Touta – an old friend from whom we rented the school building.
It started with Benoit who always begins each conversation asking about my health and my family and friends. His next statement was chilling. “The bandits are trying to kill me.”
Justin confirmed the fear and urgency in Benoit’s messages. “Benoit is really in trouble, one of Haiti’s biggest gang bosses attacked him to death.”
Just last week after bullets passed through Benoit’s house in Cité Soleil, we tried to move him to safer quarters. The gang leader – Gabriel who I met face-to-face in 2016 – tracked him down.
“Gabriel is very bad,” Touta tells me. Touta left Cité Soleil several years ago and now lives in Florida.
“Why would the gangs target Benoit?” I asked Justin. “No one really knows why,” Justin tried to explain. “One of the reasons that usually incite gangs to shoot a youth in the community is frustration if you are not in the same logic as him.”
There is no solution. This morning’s Guardian in London featured a rare article about Haiti, “Haiti: at least 12 suspected criminals beaten to death and burned in the capital.” Gang rule seems to be complete. The gangs are well-armed – mostly with weapons obtained from U.S. arms dealers – and unafraid of the police. The government is and has been helpless and ineffective since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in 2021.
Justin and I have advised Benoit to flee to the Dominican Republic and lay low if it is possible. “I love the children so much,” Benoit tells me, “When Haiti is good, I will come back and work with the children again.” That is how my conversation ended with Benoit this morning.
Justin continues to assure me that he, GBCCS, the Barefoot School, and the Alphabet School are safe. My friends in Haiti are heroes and far more fearless than the cowardly bandits who roam the streets armed to the hilt with weapons, weapons with a single purpose: to kill. My friends are real heroes battling real evil without weapons and without super-powers despite the odds stacked heavily against them. They humble and inspire me. They fight their battles without weapons, without money, and without support. They do it because they believe. They believe that having a school for 150 children is a good thing. They do it because they believe having a literacy school for 150 adults is a good thing. They believe in doing the right thing.
They believe in God.
Light a candle for my friend Benoit and pray for his safety tonight. God is listening.