ELLINWOOD — More than a week has passed since hundreds of thousands marched in the Haitian streets across the small island nation. Now and in the near future, food scarcity is real and a huge problem and of course the most affected are the children, said Mark Presson, chief executive officer of the Ellinwood-based Star of Hope USA.
“The current state is that inflation and currency exchange disparity coupled with a lack of confidence in the government means that women, men, and children face acute food shortages and worse situations,” he said. Starvation looms, and he fears children will be affected the most.
So, Star of Hope is issuing a plea for contributions.
“We are looking for donations to help fend off starvation, suffering and possible loss of life,” Presson said. “Many have told me, Haiti seems to get hit all the time; what is the difference? I tell them this is different because so many negative factors are happening at once. So many factors will disrupt markets and food may not be available again for a long time.”
What led to this? Presson said it has been a series of unfortunate occurrences.
“The main factor, other than constant poverty, is political,” he said. In less than two years Haiti’s currency, the gourde, has been halved in value compared to the dollar while inflation and food prices have steeply increased.
As an example, the price of imported rice, which is one of the country’s most important basic products, has increased by nearly 25 percent in a short time. “It may not sound like a disaster in itself, but for a family that was already on the verge starvation, must now somehow survive on even less. This is a true crisis,” he said.
“The people require the President Jovenel Moïse’s resignation,” Presson said. “Investigations have revealed reports of billions of misappropriated government revenue from the oil company, Petro Caribe, that should have been used for the country’s infrastructure. The people believe that Moïse may have been involved or was negligent in his duties, yet Moïse refuses to step down.”
It is much too dangerous to leave home. The staff is in danger, he said. Star of Hope’s Myrtha Dor and Tony Boursiquot fear for their lives.
“I haven’t left the house since Feb. 2”, said Dor. “Tony has gone out a couple of times to probe the surroundings, but it is very dangerous.”
One thing is clear, once the uprising has ended the food needs will be enormous in the country, Presson said. “We must be positioned and ready to reach out with emergency assistance to the most vulnerable and especially the children before it is too late.”
“The best way we can help today is to give to the food fund,” Boursiquot said. “If we get an open road and find food we must get deliveries going as soon as we can.”
Star of Hope, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Kansas, has been providing a hand up in Haiti for over 40 years. The group equips children across 14 countries with knowledge, physical well-being, spiritual growth, and social skills through educational programs and local and international partnerships.
Star of Hope can be reached at P.O. Box 427, Ellinwood, KS 67526, 620-564-3355 or starofhope.us/who-we-are/contact-star-of-hope.