THIS WAS MORE THAN WAR, THIS WAS A FIGHT FOR SURVIVAL
If you were given a map, would you be able to locate a country called Haiti? Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic between the Caribbean Sea and Northern Atlantic Ocean. “It wasn’t until moving to northern Haiti in 2013 with my wife and three kids, and then later adopting our daughter, that I really understood how extremely difficult life was for the Haitian people. Their battles also became our battles, and it was anything but easy”- Pastor Nick D’Acquisto.
Haiti was known as one of the wealthiest countries in the world throughout the sugar and forestry industries as a French colony with 500,000 African slaves. But when these slaves revolted from 1791-1804, Haiti became the first black republic to declare independence as they defeated the French. This freedom from France, however, came at a high price, a price so high it would be worth over 22$ billion today. So, for the last two centuries this country would be paying this debt to salvage their independent land. Haiti now remains the poorest country of the western hemisphere due to it’s political corruption, violence, and a disastrous hurricane season.
The Picture of Survival
While Haitians work hard to make a living, (average Haitian lives on 2$ a day,) they continuously face much hardship and turmoil that prevents them from living a life they’ve always desired to live. The shortage of food and clean water is a never-ending crisis that has caused about 100,000 children to suffer from malnutrition. Half of the children population also cannot afford an education and the majority of Haitian families live in what they call “shacks,” a shared living space divided amongst four families. To top off these severe conditions, Haiti’s disastrous earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods have not made surviving any easier. The 2010 earthquake was the worst disaster in Haiti’s history, killing 300,000 and leaving over 1.5 million homeless.
Not to mention, president Jovenel Moïse’s assassination (murdered by Columbians,) in 2021 left the country in a further plunge of violence, political disruption, and economic crisis. You can see how this country’s geographic location, under development, socio-economic issues, and weak infrastructure don’t exactly make living a sustainable life easily accessible. “Haiti is suffering right now in a way we have never seen before. Gangs have grown and now control 80% of the capital. They block roads, demand bribes, and kidnap people along the way. We hear of more and more organizations have had to leave Haiti when they intended on staying there for life”-Nick and Nikki Stolberg, founders of New Roots Haiti.
The Spirit of a Warrior
Amongst these hardships, Haitians continue to fight for their land in hopes of a better life ahead through their spirit of self-determination and resilience. This hope has carried this country through every moment of unrest, violent protest, and uncertainty. As the first black independent country, Haiti became a profound symbol of self-determination, racial equality, and abolition for African Americans across the globe. The spirit of the Haitian people alone has given this country its ability to not only survive, but provide an image of hope and the fight for freedom to nations around the world as they rise to the occasion with each hardship they face. Along with this resiliency, Haiti’s people are identified by their culture of generosity, hospitality, and humility. “The people of this country will give you everything, when they have nothing.” Amidst the poverty, amidst the hardship, they exude joy and kindness. A kindness unlike any I have ever experienced, and it left a significant impact on my heart- Pastor Nick D’Acquisto.