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4 April 2024 - News


Words by Pierre Joseph*, 34, a Save the Children advisor in Haiti. Pierre Joseph has worked as a humanitarian staffer for more than 13 years, inspired to help his community by his father, who was also passionate about supporting local projects. Since that time Pierre Joseph has   joined multiple humanitarian responses, rolling out programs to help families get food and income in the face of crisis.  

Pierre Joseph currently lives in temporary accommodation in a town in Haiti with his wife and six-month-old baby, after being forced to leave two different homes as a result of the worsening violence.  

“Every day is a matter of life or death under Haiti’s gang control.  There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t hear the sound of gunfire or stories of friends and family members forced to flee their homes. The situation is particularly extreme in urban areas, which are overflowing with displaced families crowding for safety in schools, in churchyards, anywhere they find a little bit of security.   

But I am passionate about my country and believe in my community, which is a large reason why my family and I are still here. I’m the only one of my siblings who hasn’t fled Haiti. My commitment to staying is a choice, and conviction.  

My family was living in an ordinary neighborhood when the area came under the control of armed groups in June 2022. I witnessed an attempted kidnapping two vehicles ahead while driving to work. Luckily for that driver there was a police car nearby   that was able to scare away the armed attackers. But it was a wakeup call for my family to find a safer city.  

After we moved, we felt safe for a short time. But in January, the new city also came under the power of the armed groups, and we were once again forced to leave. I’m now in temporary accommodation with my wife and baby boy until we can find a safer place to stay longer term.  

It’s impossible for this situation in Haiti not to impact your mental health. You are always stressed. Always on edge. Whenever you hear gunfire, which is often, you panic. You don’t have any mental peace day or night. 

My wife gave birth to our first baby six months ago. She had to have a cesarean section and was very fragile following the surgery, but she found it very difficult to get the help she needed for her recovery, and to support our baby in the first few months of his life.  

With so many hospitals and roads closed, my wife has missed important medical appointments. We are also terrified of running out of essential baby supplies. Sometimes we go to the supermarket and they say they are sold out.  

There is something about supermarkets not functioning and not being able to buy the basics, even if you have the money – that really causes you to panic.   

For the first time, we are facing a crisis where nothing works, where the government is simply not functioning. Most companies are closing their doors and just leaving the country.  

Our food supplies have collapsed, and because of this we have millions of people across the country without enough to eat. There are families on the verge of famine, but roadblocks and gang violence are preventing humanitarian organisations from reaching them.   Everyone is also struggling to find fuel, and it’s now been six months since I have been living without electricity. We have been using alternate forms of power, like solar panels.  

Everyone is afraid and leaving the country. I’m know that it’s dangerous to stay, and I also have a responsibility to my family, and in particular my baby, to keep them safe. I want to make sure my boy grows up in a peaceful place.  

Haiti needs help now. Haiti needs support now. So many people are suffering. So many people are struggling even for one meal a day. I understand that Haiti cannot get out of this situation by itself. Schools, activities, markets – they need help to get back to normal.   

This is a call for help.” 

* We changed the name for privacy