Despite widespread political strife in her adopted country, Emily Hime continues to maintain a positive outlook about the future of her Haitian orphanage, Maison Ke Kontan (Happy Heart House).
Protests have been mounting in Haiti since results of preliminary and presidential elections were announced earlier this month amid allegations of massive fraud.
“There have been ongoing protests where people gather in the streets and burn tires and barricade roads. This past week things have escalated and have turned more violent,” she said in a recent interview. “People are demanding a recount (and) you can feel the tension growing here in Haiti and protests are being formed all over Port Au Prince.”
She was trapped in a protest recently.
“I was stuck in a protest the other day, and although most protests are peaceful, they can escalate and turn violent very quickly. Our vehicle was stuck in the crowd and they began plastering campaign posters on our car. The Riot control vehicles responded quickly with tear gas and shooting rubber bullets. The crowd began to scatter at this point and we were able to make our escape and take shelter at a nearby hotel until things settled down.”
“There were reports of machete attacks, gunshots, etc. I am hoping things calm down, but I know that is impossible right now as the people are angry and want their voices heard.
A large protest is currently happening near our children’s home and the civilians are fighting back against CIMO (local swat team). Things are going to be bad this week.”
She said the neighbourhood where she lives with 20 orphans ages 10 months to 17 years has been relatively safe until recently.
“Our neighbourhood has always been safe, we’ve never had any major security concerns at the home, until now. The crime in our area has escalated greatly and you can see the fear in our neighbours’ faces. Even our staff are terrified; it’s frightening because I’ve never witnessed or sensed this amount of fear in our home before.”
They have heard threats of “civil war” and “revolution” so it’s understandable for them to be scared right now. They have no idea how things are going to turn out.”
Unable to change the strife in the street outside, Hime has turned her attention to the charity’s fundraising efforts.
“Life goes on and we have to make sure we can provide for the children, regardless of the circumstances surrounding us,” she said.
One novel way in which the group is raising money for the rent (“we owe the second half which is $5000 US and that will cover us until Sept. 2016”) as well as food water and school fees is through an online gift catalogue.
“Our annual Online Gift Catalogue which is featured on our website www.himeforhelp.org allows people to view which items are mostly needed in our home and community and lists the prices of each item,” she said.
“People can then purchase an item from our catalogue either for themselves or family and friends. Once a gift purchase is made, they will receive a gift certificate via email showing which item they purchased and they can make it out to anyone they wish. This is the perfect gift this holiday season for those who seem to have everything. We then purchase these items on the grounds here in Haiti to help support local Haitian businesses in our community.”
“We’re also having our annual fish fry fundraiser at Bob ‘N Buoys in Mitchell’s Bay Jan. 16 from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.” she said. “We will have live entertainment from Ryan Bradley.”
She’s hoping the catalogue will raise enough to cover the rent.
“Also another great way for people to help out is Child Sponsorship. This provides each child with monthly financial support so we can provide them with the basic necessities that they need,” she said. “Many of our sponsors have created relationships with our children that will last a lifetime.”