Homer E. Dowdy, staff writer for the Flint (Michigan) Journal, spent several weeks this fall travelling through the Caribbean with Dr. Henry R. Brandt, Flint psychologist who serves as consultant to some 12 mission boards. Most of their time was spent touring mission stations in Haiti, where the populace is fighting for survival against famine, drought and disease.
Here is Dowdy’s report of what he found in Haiti, and an appraisal of how Christians are facing the crisis:
Unless long-absent rains return to northwest Haiti this winter, thousands of citizens of the second oldest republic in the Americas will die of starvation.
This is the major problem currently facing the Christian church in Haiti, not only from the standpoint of human tragedy in gigantic proportions, but from decimation of the ranks of some of the strongest and most virile evangelical congregations in the Caribbean.
Haiti’s economy has never been on the plus side since the Negro nation won independence from France in 1804. Per capita income is believed to be about $50 a year, lowest in the Western Hemisphere. The nearly 4,000,000 population is growing rapidly, which is a major cause of food shortage and unemployment, and 90 per cent of the people are illiterate, with an almost equal number living in the rural areas, trying to coax a living out of steep-sloping mountains or overworked valleys.
It used to be that country folks were better off than their city cousins. But when Hurricane Hazel ripped through the island in 1954, much top soil was washed away and a mysterious tinge of salt was left in many areas. Diminishing rains since the deluge have prompted a number of farmers to leave the country for the towns only to find unemployment and food shortages.
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