They work for people in the Cité Soleil in the Caribbean. What sounds like a holiday resort is in reality the huge slum of Port-au-Prince, the capital of the long-suffering country of Haïti. Jonathan Meyer (farmer, 31) and his wife Flore (teacher, 27), a married couple working for SMG, actually wanted to serve God in Africa.
Port-au-Prince is the capital and also the largest city of Haiti. The Caribbean state on the island of Hispaniola has about 11 million inhabitants.
After a first stay in Haïti, however, the conviction grew that their place was indeed there. A country that Meyers currently experience as completely paralyzed. In recent years, security has deteriorated on a large scale, and the people are suffering as a result. The fact that the best-guarded man in the country, President Jovenel Moïse, was assassinated in July hits them even harder. In mid-August, Haïti was also hit by a strong earthquake.
RECEIVING VISITS INSTEAD OF GOING OUT
Meyers can hardly leave their house to this day. Visits and outreaches to the slums are still out of the question for security reasons. Communication remains difficult. It is mostly the locals that go to the people in Cité Soleil on their behalf. Thanks to their staff, food could be distributed and even a house could be built for an elderly person. Instead of going to the people in the slums, some come now to Meyers' home so that contacts are not completely broken off. "The Corona crisis itself had a major impact on our work, which is about supporting families in following Jesus Christ," the two Meyers reported in conversation with IDEA via an unstable internet connection. With two small children, they have lived in Port-au-Prince for three years. One time they had to move because the violence in their neighborhood had increased so much. Up to now, hardly anything has changed, but Meyers are holding on.
DEALING WITH GANGS
Because the Cité Soleil is divided into areas of different gangs where the police do not dare to go, Meyers were dependent on getting to know the gang leaders from the very beginning. "It's a tightrope walk for us. On the one hand, we depend on the gang leaders for protection, but on the other hand, we don't want to ally ourselves with them. It is clear to us that we do not pay protection money," Jonathan states.
EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE ON THE WAY TO INDEPENDENCE
"We don't want to make people dependent on us here. That's why we didn't want to distribute food at the beginning of our ministry," Jonathan Meyer explains. But seeing old and weak people practically starving changed their practice. Today, emergency aid is part of their ministry. They do this within the framework of the Swiss association Iris Port-au-Prince and in cooperation with SMG. Their goal is to support families in Haïti so that parents can care for their children. In an encompassing approach, they bring help with food, encourage families to live with Jesus Christ, contribute to schooling and medical care, and organize micro-credits. In the midst of all these commitments, they always want to be able to take time for their neighbor who is in need.
SOLIDARITY AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE
Homes, schools, hospitals and churches collapsed in the strong earthquake of 14 August 2021. The effects are drastic. Especially the southern part of the island is very badly affected. Meyers were touched to see how Haïtians from one community stepped up to help their brothers and sisters, providing almost 700 bags of food for the disaster area. The country is still badly shaken and it is difficult to say how things will develop.
Meyer's vision is to support families in Haïti emotionally, physically and spiritually. This includes setting up businesses, funding medical care and school fees, providing food and helping to rebuild homes. They also offer work to local people in their Bed & Breakfast.