Last week we spoke with Pastor Ronel Mesidor, director of the Source of Light Center in Port au Prince, Haiti. Since the horrendous earthquake in 2010, the BGAV has been a founding partner in this children’s home and community school. We are grateful to those who have contributed toward this ministry, especially to the child sponsors who continue to support the 34 children living full-time at the Center.
Civil unrest, gang warfare, and economic collapse have affected all aspects of life in Haiti. Scarcity of fuel or sporadic access, at best, has raised sharply the cost of transportation. Getting to school or work, delivering food from farms or from the ports – all of these critical public services have been crippled, which raises the price of everything. Gangs have resorted to ransom as a source of income, and not even Haitian residents are safe from the danger of kidnapping.
There is also a private side to the situation, which gets more difficult each day. Anxiety and panic attacks are becoming the norm, even among the children. “When I was there in March I noticed it,” says Roneldine Mesidor. “The kids were afraid to be outside because of the fear of being kidnapped.” The fear also affects the students’ capacity to learn and the teachers’ capacity to teach. “When we ask the kids what they want to do one day they say, ‘We want to leave the country.”
As well as addressing daily the practical challenges, Pastor Ronel is aware of this aspect of the crisis as well. “Today in Haiti our main problem is having hope,” he says, “While I have understanding for how tough it is, I still try to motivate our people to not give up.” Often he speaks with the teachers and students, especially when they have heard gunshots, or heard about someone affected by violence. Sometimes he is able to connect them with counselors. Drawing strength from testimonies in the Bible, Pastor Ronel reminds his team, “God is still God.”
In keeping with its mission statement, the Source of Light Center endeavors to “transform our community in Delmas 19 with hope, for the glory of God”, and there is positive news to report. They continue to offer K-11 classes for the approximately 65 children attending. In addition to the resident children, around 30 from the community continue to come to school regularly. While 130 are actually registered, many families cannot pay the tuition for a full year and will not come to school until the next semester begins in January. The Center also provides practical life-preparation through its mentor program, as well as some vocational training. Several of the older children have learned to drive, to sew, or how to produce soap as a cottage industry.
Another positive development is the grass-roots effort Pastor Ronel is involved in. Pastors, non-profit leaders, educators, and others have begun meeting with government representatives, ambassadors from foreign embassies, as well as with business leaders. The conversations focus on what can be done to move sustainably forward as a country. Many of these local leaders like Pastor Ronel are normally not involved in politics, but they have become willing because they want things to get better. This advocacy is not without its risks, however, and at least one of the group has been kidnapped and not yet released.
There is a lot to pray about:
- We ask God to protect everyone in the Source of Light Center. We’ve been walking together for a long time, and it hurts our hearts to see what they must endure.
- We pray for Pastor Ronel and his family and team – for their safety and mental well-being. It’s hard for him not to feel embarrassed sometimes, “because things do not seem to get better and so often I must report bad news.”
- We pray for the motivation of the school staff and that they would continue to invest in the students at the school.
- We pray for the Haitian chaplains and pastors who are ministering to a population traumatized by the constant state of emergency.
- We pray for the Crisis Care Training that Impact Disaster Response is planning for early 2023.
- We pray for peace, and that the country of Haiti would make progress in its quest for stability, safety, and sustainability.
- We thank God for the signs of the Kingdom of Heaven’s influence that we see at the Source of Light Center!
Questions? Contact Craig Waddell.