The Rt. Rev. Pierre Whalon, Bishop of the Convocation of Churches in Europe, reflects about the future of Haiti. Quoting a letter from Bishop Duracin of Haiti “Nous sommes aux abois, mais fermes dans la foi.” (Être aux abois means literally to be run down like the fox in a foxhunt, mais fermes dans la foi means but firm in the faith). Whalon writes:
At the very beginning of news coverage of the disaster, commentators were noting with wonderment the groups of Haitians sleeping outside, having lost everything, but who were singing hymns of praises to God. They could not believe it. How could these people praise God now, they asked? Good question, which can only be answered by people of faith. What a difference between these Christians and those nabobs saying that this earthquake was a divine punishment!
It is now time for all Christians and other people of good will to declare our solidarity with the Haitian people, including those of The Episcopal Church’s largest diocese of Haiti, and insist to all who want to help—nations, NGOs, churches and ordinary people—that the Haitian people must be in charge of their future.
Not only have they been the victims of several natural disasters recently. Haiti has also suffered immensely, first at the hands of the French, and then the Americans. As a citizen of both countries, I am ashamed of the human disasters wreaked upon the Haitian people by my nations in the past. We must not allow that past to repeat itself.
As far as the reconstruction of the Diocese of Haiti goes, what Bishop Duracin and his leaders say, goes. Others may want to discuss options with them, of course, but the final decisions must rest with them. The same goes for the people of Haiti. President Préval and his government must have the final say. Haitians must own Haiti’s future, even as they did not own their past.
The future of Haiti can only be bright if it really belongs to the Haitians.