Windsor·Q&A

Haitians are suffering — even those far away from the violence, local charity says

'Javelin' is a Lakeshore-based organization that runs schools and clinics in Haiti. But, since the most recent conflict in Port-au-Prince, the charity is feeling the effects of the trouble even though the work it does is in a different corner of the country.

Lakeshore-based organization runs schools and clinics in northern Haiti

ten young girls stand outside of a contemporary orphanage
Kay Nou is an orphanage supported by Javelin that provides for 10 local girls. (Supplied by Glen Jackson)

As the situation in Haiti continues to descend into turmoil, a Lakeshore, Ont.,-based organization is feeling the effects. 

The Javelin Education and Medical Fund runs schools and clinics in northern Haiti, far removed from the violence currently unfolding on the streets of Port-au-Prince. 

A man works on a small building of cement blocks. Palm trees are in the background.
The charity currently has a new orphanage under construction in northern Haiti. (Supplied by Glen Jackson)

But, the charity's president Glen Jackson says that the tumult is still having an impact on his organization's work. 

The blockading of ports and airports by gangs has meant that the price of essentials like food and gas have skyrocketed, affecting countless people across the nation.

In the meantime, Haiti's unelected prime minister, Ariel Henry, will step down once a transition council and temporary replacement have been appointed, he said on Monday, after leading the Caribbean country since the 2021 assassination of its last president.

Armed gangs massively grew their wealth, influence and territory under his administration, prompting Henry to travel to Kenya in late February to secure its support for a United Nations-backed security mission to help police.

The conflict dramatically escalated in his absence and left Henry stranded in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico while regional leaders called for a swift transition.

As a result of the ongoing situation, the Javelin president Jackson is unable to return to Haiti, where he would normally work three to four times a year.

He told Amy Dodge, host of CBC Radio's Windsor Morning, about the work his organization does, the situation on the ground and the fears among Haiti's population. 

Here is part of that conversation. 


Tell me a little bit about your organization ... There's a connection to another group, Hearts Together for Haiti, can you explain a bit about that?

Hearts Together for Haiti has been around since about 2001. They've done a phenomenal job in the north of Haiti.

In 2010, when the earthquake came, I got in touch with them and said I'd like to go. As it happened, they were going within a month and they were looking for property to build a school, an orphanage and a medical clinic.

I went on that trip ... I was there at the beginning of all of the work that they're doing in the north of Haiti.

Their organization did school up to Grade 9, plus an orphanage for 10 girls, plus a medical clinic with a once a week doctor and a full-time nurse.

The Javelin Fund would take over after the children left Grade 9, because they what are they going to do? There's no jobs, so they can go to now go to university, trade school or high school. So, we give them opportunities.

The village of Deppe, which is in the north, is simply a scattering of shacks all over several acres on either side of a highway. There's no streets, there's no cars, there's no shops, there's no electricity, there's no running water. So we opened a school there and I would assume we were going to get about 20 kids in our first year, not knowing that our first 20 kids were teenagers.

We now have 450 children in our school. Two hundred are local children and 250 of them walk miles and miles every day, because in Haiti you have to pay for school and these families cannot afford to send their children to school. So we have 450, and then the only reason we can afford that is by donations from people that are kind enough to help us.

WATCH: Why Glen Jackson says he can't go back to Haiti right now

Operator of school charity in Haiti says he can't go back to the country right now

2 months ago
Duration 0:36
Glen Jackson is the president of the Javelin Education and Medical Fund, a Lakeshore, Ont., based organization that runs schools and clinics in northern Haiti.

How has the violence affected what you're able to do there?

I used to go three and four times a year. I was almost like I was on top of everything. We're very fortunate. We have a phenomenal staff, but in the north of Haiti, we're quite far removed from Port-au-Prince.

So we're not involved in the gangs, but what's happening is the gangs control the port and the airport actually, so the price of food has doubled or tripled. Gasoline for their little motorbikes, because there's basically no cars, is almost impossible to get, and so the people are definitely suffering.

You do a lot of work with schools. Is there a concern that some of those kids could get wrapped up in these gangs?

I don't think our kids will because we're far enough removed.

The problem is the government's been corrupt for years and years and years, and then after the president was assassinated in 2021, the fellow that they appointed, Ariel Henry, isn't popular. No one likes him.

Everyone's wondering what has he done in the last three years for the country. So, when he left to go to a meeting in Puerto Rico about the Caribbean nations, the gangs took over. He can't come back, and that's a good thing.

How would you compare what's happening now to a year ago or two years ago?

Definitely worse. 

In the City of Cap-Haïtien, which is our nearest big city, they are having demonstrations. Although the demonstrations are more to remove the prime minister rather than violent.

One man called me last week and he said they came into his house. He, his son and his telephone made it out alive. Otherwise they took everything in the house and set it on fire.

There's no reason for that to happen. He was a nice man.


This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Oliver Thompson is a writer, producer and musician. Originally from the UK, where he worked for the BBC, Oliver moved to Canada in 2018.

With files from CBC News