Haitian NGO worker has a ‘moral obligation’ to continue despite two children being kidnapped — Global Issues

The Caribbean island nation continues to endure extreme insecurity, with widespread and unrelenting violence as rival gangs battle each other and police for control of the capital, Port-au-Prince.

Violence, including kidnapping for ransom, takes place against a backdrop of political and economic crises as well as poverty and underdevelopment.

Chantale Valcourt heads CAPAC, a national non-governmental organization (NGO) that supports vulnerable people, especially women and girls, and is affiliated with the World Food Program (United Nations WFP).

“Two daughters, aged 11 and 8, were kidnapped on their way to school in Port-au-Prince on October 30, 2023. The girls were held for five days and released after a ransom was paid. .

Even though they were released safely and treated with respect by their kidnappers, this was an incredibly traumatic experience for my family, especially my children.

School never really reopened after this incident, so I put my daughters best interests first and sent them out of the country in January.

It’s becoming more and more difficult for me to go to work, I’m constantly on the lookout for danger, but I never intended to go out. Despite everything, I continued my work out of a sense of duty to my community and humanity.

I feel a strong moral obligation to support others.

This is a reality that Haitians face every day, and one that humanitarian workers on the front lines of supporting vulnerable populations must constantly contend with.

I am effectively a displaced person, having moved out of my house in the north of Port-au-Prince because the gangs have moved in.

desperate situation

CAPAC is a national NGO and works in collaboration with WFP. Our mission is to work with vulnerable people to ensure social justice and gender equality, and to eradicate poverty.

© UNOCHA/Giles Clarke

A woman displaced by gang violence is now living in a former theater in downtown Port-au-Prince.

We operate in the most difficult to access areas controlled by gangs, such as Cité Soleil, La Saline, Martisant, Croix des Bouquets, Bas Delmas and the downtown areas of Port-au-Prince.

Access is extremely difficult, especially in situations of conflict between gangs and the Haitian National Police. Many of the people we are trying to reach are still hiding in their homes. This makes it impossible for aid to be delivered as quickly as needed in gang-controlled areas.

Their situation remains hopeless. In recent days, we have witnessed further suffering and instability related to the forced displacement of the most vulnerable people.

Attacks by armed groups and intensive shooting in populated areas led to extensive destruction of civilian infrastructure, including schools, hospitals, and places associated with religious worship.

frontline female leaders

As a frontline female leader coordinating the emergency humanitarian response in Port-au-Prince, I have experienced unprecedented events. They will remain engraved in your heart.

We cannot ignore the impact our work has on the lives of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

Despite conditions on the ground, gang fear, and limited access for humanitarian workers, hot meal distribution and cash transfers are critical to saving lives.

My own situation has made me even more determined to help the poorest of the poor. In fact, I sometimes take my baby with me to work, but I never thought that by not breastfeeding, I would be unable to support those in need. I never wanted to interrupt or stop the work of our organization.

Something positive in the midst of chaos

The situation in Haiti is extremely confusing and destructive. But, to my surprise, I also found some positives.

A high school girl in Port-au-Prince holds a placard that says

© UNICEF/Ralph Teddy Errol

A high school girl in Port-au-Prince holds a placard that says “Peace” in French.

I met many strong and impressive women who gave me a deeper understanding of what we can do to make a difference. I learned a lot from them. The whole world can learn from them.

No matter the situation, I remain motivated to continue breaking the cycle of poverty by being on the front lines and delivering critical support to the most vulnerable in marginalized communities. ”

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