My friend, Brennon, recently taught our team a Haitian proverb – Vwazinaj se fanmi -“The neighborhood is the family.”
Yes! Let those powerful words rest on your heart for just a minute. The neighborhood is the family… Beautiful.
There are layers upon layers of truth in that simple phrase. I hear echoes of Bill Withers singing “Lean On Me” and Jesus teaching “Love thy neighbor.” I see scenes from Sesame Street and Cheers all rolled into one. I think of the African proverb; it takes a village to raise a child.
The fact is, we need each other. In good times and in bad times, our greatest gift is one another. Vwazinaj se fannmi. I’m sure we have all seen these words realized in different ways at various times in our lives. In fact, as I write this post, my kids are spending a hot summer day in my neighbor’s swimming pool.
The neighborhood is the family…
You all have followed along with us for the past month as we have shared about the crisis in Haiti, a crisis not rooted in but amplified by the assassination of President Moise. Thank you for standing with us as we stand with our partners and friends. Much has changed over the past few weeks, and much has stayed the same. There is a new Prime Minister in place — Ariel Henry — and as far as we can tell, plans are still in place for elections in late September. This is a good sign of potential stability. However, as mentioned in previous updates, the more significant issue is the unchecked power of gangs. As Jason Beaubien writes in a recent NPR article, “over the past two years, Haiti has been hit with a significant surge in gang violence. Criminal organizations have taken over entire neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince. After driving out the police, gang members now loot, extort, kidnap and, at times, even kill with impunity.”
The neighborhood is the family…but what happens when you’re forced out of your neighborhood?
Well, the beautiful thing about the neighborhood is that it’s not constrained by geography or proximity. WE are the neighborhood. YOU are the neighbor. Our partners in Haiti are coming alongside vulnerable families who have lost everything and being good neighbors, surrounding them with community and support. And you, the Help One Now family, are coming alongside our partners and being good neighbors, surrounding them with support and encouragement. Vwazinaj se fanmi!!
Over the past four weeks, our partners in Haiti have been able to serve 299 families…over 1,200 individuals…with food, shelter, safety, and hope. These neighbors are working hard and carrying so much. Our job is to help the helpers… to be neighbors to the neighbors. This takes resources, and you all have come through in a big way already. But, there’s more to be done. One member of our HON neighborhood is creating a video of encouraging words from many of you to share with our brothers and sisters in Haiti. Some other members of our HON neighborhood are providing crisis counseling and trauma-informed care training for those neighbors on the front lines, carrying the weight of this crisis.
We all play a role in this neighborhood. Let’s keep showing up for our neighbors!
There are many beautiful and practical ways that we can show up as neighbors during this time. You can donate directly towards supporting families in Haiti. You can also purchase your own “The Neighborhood Is the Family” mantra, where all proceeds go towards relief efforts in Haiti. You can pray for your Haitian neighbors. And you can advocate for your neighbors. Share this with your own neighborhoods – and grow the family.
Vwazinaj se fanmi. Together We Build.
International Operations Director