On March 19, 2020, the Haitian President announced that 2 cases of the COVID-19 had been found in northern Haiti. He also announced most of the same precautions as the US such as the closure of schools, factories and most stores and businesses, no gatherings of more than 10 people, practicing social distancing, shelter in place and hand washing as well as instituting a curfew. All airports were also closed to commercial flights.
These measures are not easy for the Haitian culture, where they live their lives outside of their homes and shop for food just for that day's meal. It is a nation of 12 million people living densely packed into a mountainous 10,000 square miles. There are few medical facilities. Reportedly there are only 64 ventilators in the whole country.
So far we are not seeing much multiplication in infections, but that could be coming. We have real concern for the country if this were to get out of hand as it has in other countries as they simply don’t have the healthcare capacity to handle this pandemic.
So how has this impacted RMI, our missionaries and staff, and the ministry?
RMI International Office: The RMI in Florida is open with employees working from home. Phones are being answered from 9:00-4:00. Feel free to email us or call the office (239-368-8390) if you need to communicate with us. Mail and donations are being processed. Hope for Kidz is open and processing renewals and new sponsorships. Providing hope for these children is more needed now than ever.
Teams: Please contact Dawn Shoemaker and Lee Nunemaker through your firstname.lastname@example.org email for information concerning scheduled team trips or to reschedule for the fall.
The RMI Haiti Office is closed until further notice. All of the staff, both missionary and nationals are working from home and will be answering email and staying in contact with you and providing regular updates on how things are going with your C3 Partner.
RMI US Missionaries: After much discussion together, RMI leadership, even though they highly recommended the missionaries come back to the US, have allowed them to consider staying in Haiti if desired. Due to the many difficulties in returning to the US due to the “shelter in place” requirements, lack of supplies in grocery stores, not wanting to put elderly parents at risk, housing needs, and many other issues, most have decided to stay, knowing the risks inherent in doing so. They have been able to stock up and are fairly isolated at the mission center.
The Nunemakers and Starkeys stayed in Haiti and are working from home. Joslynn and Tessa are there as well, working from home and continuing to teach their classes virtually online. Dawn chose to come back to the States and is working from there.
Thank you for continuing to support the RMI missionaries as they weather this crisis and continue to work at their ministry as possible both in Haiti and in the US.
Pray for RMI, our staff and missionaries, and the Haitian people during these difficult days ahead.
May 20, 2020
As of today there are now 663 cases of COVID-19 and 22 deaths. There are 8 cases in the Cayes area. The Minister of Health is concerned that there are many more cases that they don't know about. He's also alarmed at the fast increase in just a few days.
May 15, 2020
As of today there are 358 cases of COVID-19 and 20 deaths. There are 2 cases in the Cayes area.
May 3, 2020
There are now 100 cases of COVID-19 and 11 deaths. No cases have been discovered in the Cayes area.
April 28, 2020
There are 76 documented cases of COVID-19 and 6 deaths. It seems to be moving slowly, for which we are very thankful! So far there are no cases in the Cayes area, but the RMI Haiti office and staff are still following the government guidelines.
April 23, 2020
We are happy that RMI missionaries, Jim and April Starkey and their 3 boys, were able to come back to the US last weekend. Originally they had decided to stay in Haiti, but in the intervening weeks, she has had significant gastrointestinal issues that were not able to be dealt with there. God worked in marvelous ways to get them from Cayes to Port, for them to get on a commercial flight that had been approved by the Haitian government, and for them to make all their connections so they could get all the way to their home area in Ohio. God also worked out a nice living situation that provided them a house to themselves where they can quarantine themselves in between doctor visits and grocery store runs. Pray that the doctors can figure out what her issues are and be able to address them.
They will be staying in the US until Haiti has reopened. If you support them, please continue to do so since their expenses have actually increased during this time because they still have their basic expenses in Haiti plus any additional living expenses here in the US.
April 20, 2020 Update
As of April 19, 2020 there are 47 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 3 deaths in Haiti. As of yet, there are no cases in the Cayes area. The border and airport is still closed. Occasionally a single commercial flight is given clearance to come in empty and leave with expatriates that want to leave. Agape is being given permission to go in on a weekly basis to carry in cargo and mail but not to carry people in or out.
April 5, 2020 Update
As of April 4, 2020 there are 21 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Haiti. To date there are none in the Cayes area. The government has taken many good steps to educate the population on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19. They have set up hand washing stations among other things. One concerning thing is misinformation that is being spread that has caused some of the population to not wear masks or to believe that Haitians can't get the virus.
March 29, 2020 Update
So far, there are 15 recorded cases of COVID-19 in Haiti. Only a few commercial flights have been allowed to come in from Miami as long as they come in empty and leave full of those that have tickets. The last of these repatriation flights is reported to be Monday, March 30, 2020.