SAN ANTONIO – A Haitian doctor visiting San Antonio hopes the latest violent kidnapping of 17 missionaries raises more awareness about the dire help needed in Haiti.
Anany Prosper is a doctor for the Children’s Nutrition Program of Haiti, a community-based program that provides health care services to those in need in Haiti. He also travels back and forth to spread the word about the serious problems in his country.
“Currently, what is happening in Haiti is the visible part of a bigger and bigger failure,” Prosper said. “There is violence, kidnapping in bulk randomly. The gangs can block the street, and in over two miles, they will check everyone. They can take an entire bus or part of it.”
He said his heart breaks for the missionaries, including men, women and children -- sixteen U.S. citizens and one Canadian.
“They went there to help, and now their families are suffering because of this,” he said. “I really feel the pain of these families that go to Haiti for justice and morality. My heart and prayers go out to them.”
Prosper believes this is a wake-up call for everyone.
“What is happening is a humanitarian crisis,” he said. “It is a hunger crisis, and it is a failure of institutions. It is a wake-up call for not only Haitians but for our neighbors to see and say something needs to be done differently and better.”
Prosper believes another issue is with gangs cutting off resources to 40% of their population of 12 million people.
“Forty percent is blocked totally from oxygen, fuel, medical equipment, oil, food and water,” he said. “Forty percent! I am talking about more than 4 million people, and that same population was also affected by the earthquake that happened two months ago.”
That fact alone is troubling to Prosper, mainly because the pandemic is still putting a strain on their already struggling health care system.
The hunger crisis is especially harmful to children.
“Twenty-six percent of all children under the age of 5 years old who are living in Haiti are suffering from malnutrition. Out of 1,000 live births, more than 128 of them will die before they reach their 5th birthday. But even if we save the children from death, we still miss the opportunity to have their brain to be developed correctly so that they can become intelligent professionals in the next 20 years. That is the big danger.”
Haitian officials also say the uptick in violence was triggered after the assassination of their president in July.
“What we are seeing right now is the mismanagement and a big misunderstanding between the civil society, the Haitian population and the international community,” he said. “It is really a humanitarian crisis and health situation that need the compassion of the people here in the U.S., that need a listening and understanding of the political elite also here in the U.S. to help the civil society in Haiti to solve this problem.”
The U.S. government promised to provide resources, including $15 million, to help crackdown on gang violence.
Prosper said he is thankful, but he believes it will take more than just aid to help them get on their feet again.
“Help us to build the society,” he said. School, health system, higher educations -- you are already doing it in other places like South Korea, Poland, and Israel. We can have another generation better prepared to take over and be in charge of Haiti. After all of the suffering, we have to come together with compassion but focus on civil societies and rebuild it step by step. There are real people in the field in Haiti, not politicians but genuinely good people who want to see their country be better than this. We have to stay focused, have faith in God and take our resolution as Haitians to stand up in order to fix our country. We can do it.”