HELP Updates


Dear Friends,

Many of you will have heard of the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise early this morning at his residence in the hills above Port-au-Prince. Most businesses in and around Port-au-Prince did not open today and with little public transportation there have been few people in the streets and no significant demonstrations of any kind. Due to a number of factors, the presidential succession plan is not clear and the Prime Minister has assumed de facto control of the government.

At HELP, we closed out the school year in June, though due to coronavirus-related delays early in the school year, a handful of students are in their final weeks of university.  Therefore, this assassination will not affect most students’ studies in the short term.

The past two years have been difficult for Haitians, starting with violent anti-government strikes which shut down schools from September to December of 2019, followed closely by the coronavirus which shut down schools again from March through July of 2020. The security situation in and around Port-au-Prince disintegrated in 2020, with armed gangs sprouting up, controlling poor, densely populated neighborhoods, sparking a wave of kidnap for ransom across the capital, and more recently shutting down vast swaths of the city as a result of territorial disputes.

There has been no state-sponsored covid vaccination campaign and vaccines have yet to arrive in Haiti, due to the Moise administration declining a donation of vaccines earlier this year. Consequently, there has been a recent resurgence of covid-19 cases, most likely due to the Gamma variant from Brazil and experts fear that when the more contagious and deadly Delta variant arrives, the situation will only deteriorate.

Despite the disintegrating political, economic, security, and public health situation, your steady contributions enable HELP students not only to survive but to thrive in a supportive atmosphere, and to think about how to create the new leaders that their country so desperately needs. For the first time ever, 17 students are taking online courses during the summer session, and thanks to a longstanding partnership with Cornell University, four students are enrolled in an online summer class at Cornell. HELP enrolled Stael Toussaint (Law, ’22) in an online course in civic engagement at Bard College for the second semester and he wrote to us a few days ago as the course ended.

I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity. I learned so much that in the end, I think I owe you more than just a thank you. I have progressed in many ways, and I even received a message from BARD, telling me that they have agreed to fund my project in Mariani… I believe in the mission of HELP, I believe in a new Haiti despite the circumstances.

As we celebrate 25 years of student success, we owe each of you a tremendous Thank You for continuing to believe in HELP’s goal of a more just society in Haiti through education.

Conor Bohan

Founder and Executive Director

P.S. from Editor
On July 13 the Haitian Education and Leadership Program’s director of development, Sam Connor, also shared with us an opinion-editorial from two graduates, Daphnée Charles and current Fulbright Scholar Stephanie Rubin.
Connor also shared a link to Daphnée’s nationally syndicated clip on The World July 12.

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