Haitian pastor shares his country’s status at Lawrenceville Presbyterian Church

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Despite the continuing unrest in Haiti, Harmony Ministries is keeping true to its mission of bringing religion to Haitians, to ensuring that children receive an education, and that medical and dental clinics are available to all who need them.

Rev. Luc Deratus, whose Harmony Ministries has had a long-standing relationship with The Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville, filled in the congregants on the political situation and Harmony Ministries’ ongoing efforts during his annual visit to the church at 2688 Main Street on Feb. 9.

Much of the unrest stems from President Jovenel Moise, who attempted to raise the price of gasoline. The Venezuelan government shopping shipping oil to Haiti in 2018, which resulted in price hikes and protests.

The turmoil continued into 2019, even after President Moise was asked to step down and refused to do so, Rev. Deratus said. Schools were closed, and there was violence. Tourism was affected, and many people lost their jobs because of the lack of tourists.

Harmony Ministries’ schools in Port-au-Prince and Leogane were affected, but not the schools in Thoman and LaSalle, because they are located in a different part of the country, he said. The schools in Port-au-Prince and Leogane reopened in November 2019.

Harmony Ministries’ church in Port-au-Prince offers a school for children through the sixth grade. It enrolls about 250 students, for whom notebooks and uniforms are provided by the ministry. It also operates a pre-school, enrolling about 50 children.

There is a ministry in Bertrand, but it takes two hours to walk up a mountainside to reach it, Rev. Deratus said. Harmony Ministries members from Port-au-Prince and Thoman visit Bertrand to evangelize. A school has been established there, as well.

The 60 children who attend the school in Bertrand had never been to school, Rev. Deratus said. Children who complete the fourth grade curriculum in Bertrand come down the mountain to Thoman, which has a school that reaches the fifth grade. There are plans to expand it to the sixth grade, he said.

Harmony Ministries also seeks to offer vocational training to Haitians so they can earn a living.

“We want (young people) to learn how to fix cellphones. If they want to become tailors or carpenters, we try to find a school for them. Many of them want to become doctors or lawyers,” Rev. Deratus said.

There is a young girl who wants to become a nurse, and Harmony Ministries is helping her, he said.

In Port-au-Prince, Harmony Ministries offers sewing classes to anyone who is interested. With the help of financial donations, it has purchased sewing machines. Children and adults can learn how to sew. Once they have fabric, they can measure and create shirts and skirts.

“We wish the government would provide more schools so young people could learn a trade,” Rev. Deratus said.

Meanwhile, in Port-au-Prince, the church is “really growing,” Rev. Deratus said.

“Every Sunday, we give invitations to come to church. About five or 10 new people come in every time. On the first Sunday of the month, we go out into the neighborhoods with our mission to evangelize,” he said.

The Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville and students from The Pennington School have gone on medical mission trips to Haiti in the past. One of the attendees at the Feb. 9 meeting asked Rev. Deratus when it would be safe to go on a mission trip.

Given the political situation, Rev. Deratus said, “I would not advise anyone to come. I believe when President Moise is out – the people don’t want him – then it would be safe. Maybe next year.”