We are back in school. Nothing has changed in Cité Soleil. With no functional government in Haiti – the last 10 remaining senators in Haiti’s parliament officially left office on Wednesday – the country is left without a single democratically elected government official. Meanwhile, the gangs continue to vie for power. Gunfire erupted yesterday and the streets were eerily and uncharacteristically empty. Only sixty-nine children came to school.
We prepared for our return to school by investing in a desk for our principal, and chairs for our teachers. I recall from attending many business conventions how physically exhausting it is to stand on concrete for hours at a time. The chairs bring great relief to our staff. As inflation soars in Haiti, we’re trying to get by on smaller food portions. We will make it work.
To help put things in perspective, through October 2022, the annualized inflation rate in Haiti was 47.2%. In the United States, we closed the 12 months ending in December 2022 with a 6.5% inflation rate.
According to Le Nouvelliste [the Haitian newspaper I follow daily], the increase comes from the increase in all consumer products, the most important of which are:
- Food products and non-alcoholic beverages (53.1% over one year)
- Clothing and footwear (49.7% over one year)
- Furniture, household items, and routine household maintenance (46.1% over one year)
- Health (41.8% over one year)
The products that have most influenced annual inflation are:
- Food: local and imported rice (75.5% on average), meat (56.2% on average), milk (52.8% on average) and dry peas (50.5%);
- Articles of clothing and footwear: making clothes (41.7%), dress (52.8%), suit, universal jacket (55.1%), shirt (62.9%), shoes and tennis (59 .4%) and sandal (61.2%);
- Health: medicines (41.4%) and glasses with corrective lenses (52.3%);
- Furniture, household items, and routine home maintenance: living room furniture (60.1%) and dining room (61.1%).
Prices of imported products grew sharply at 61.1% while local products grew by an average of 39%.
The plea for help we issued in November 2022 successfully raised enough funds to enable us to cover non-discretionary expenses – food, facility rent, and a small, staff stipend – through the end of the school year, scheduled for July 14, 2023. On behalf of the children we serve in Cité Soleil, thank you to those special people and organizations who stepped up to help us.
I remain convinced that our desert farm will fund the school in the future. I’m still not bearing weight on my broken leg, but friends Dwight and Halen took me to the farm yesterday for the first time since my accident. The lettuce and mustard greens Mrs. tVM and I planted in November are doing well and show promise for an early spring harvest. As I inspected the crops and ‘supervised,’ Dwight and Halen tilled 6,000 sq.ft. and cleared the weeds in preparation for a spring planting.
I literally hope to be back on my feet by March when we’ll plant our summer crops, which will include the heat-tolerant and delicious Armenian cucumbers.
Like Abraham, we will continue to believe. Nothing will distract us from the work we are committed to doing for the children we serve in Cité Soleil.