Listen as Extollo President, Keith Cobell, checks in with General Manager, Junior Medard, about how things are moving forward in Haiti after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise.
*Transcript included below video
Well, welcome everyone, I’m Keith Cobell, President of Extollo and I have Junior Medard who is our general manager in Haiti. He's on our campus right now and we just want to give everyone a quick update on the situation in Haiti and the impact it's having on Extollo. So, Junior, it would be very helpful for all of our stakeholders and those watching this video to hear a little bit about the current situation in Haiti.
I would like to start by Wednesday, the day of the president assassination. It starts to develop emotions. Before, there was a lot of uncertainty but afterwards it was the same. Allies are fighting against one another and it still continues because there is no common plan or thinking about the future of the country. Fear is everywhere because illegal organizations are becoming more powerful than the legal institutions. In the country it is important that people can count on rules, structures and legal institutions because we have lost that for...for the last seven years and things have become worse and creates an environment of anxiety in Port au Prince and that makes it hard to live on a daily basis.
So the anxiety of the unknown since the assassination of President Moise is only an increase to the anxiety that had already been there, does that sound right?
That’s right. We were already in a situation of confusion and with the lack of trust in our leaders in the country, people become more anxious by the fact that they don't see really anything being done right now to get out of the actual crisis to start thinking about a better future for the country. Yes, this and with all the gangs of the organizations. Gangs have become very powerful for the last 2 years particularly during 2021. It seems that the population is left by itself and just imagine what it’ is to live in a context like that.
So is that particularly related or specific to Port-au-Prince? What's the situation like where Extollo’s campus is out in the Bercy area?
The most concern is inside of Port-au-Prince (PAP) and some areas really close to PAP. Like Martisaint, croix de bouquet, delma 2. It’s mostly those areas that's really taken a big concern about the violent context and fear. But in the area of our campus it's pretty calm. After the assassination, people stayed inside of their house because they didn’t really know what was going to happen afterwards. But in the past week life gets back to normal, people are going to work, going to the street market and do their routine as they used to. I've been driving from Port au Prince to the campus 3 times a week. I never felt unsafe by doing this.
That's really great to hear because often what we get here in the states and through international news sources is really specific to Port-au-Price and so we hear that Haiti is having all these problems and what we see is Port-au-Prince. So I think it is important for our audience and our stakeholders to know that outside of Port-au-Prince, a lot of life has gone back to normal. One thing I wanted to share with everyone, is that when the president was assassinated we immediately went into a kind of a shelter in place, following the protocols of our existing emergency action plan, and we were doing that because we weren't sure what was going to happen,there was a lot of “wait and see…” and so we postponed our current welding level 1 class that was happening on campus at the time at the end of the week we assessed that the Bercy area was safe and so we reopened our campus that next Monday. We have a construction project happening, we've got some people on campus, and also just our general kind of maintenance and operations. It's just today that we made the decision to bring back or welding level 1 class and the students there to finish off that level 1 class next week. We are seeing that while Haiti under a lot of anxiety and stress but when it comes to the turmoil where people feel unsafe, that’s specific to Port-au-Prince. Our area is quite safe So Junior, when it comes to where people are seeing in Haiti going from this point forward, take a couple of seconds to share with us what is on the hopes and concerns that people have in Haiti as they think about the future.
Yes indeed. Haitian people only expect that we all together can sit...and think about common solutions for Haiti. For once we stopped fighting against one another that we can live as brothers and sisters. This is our common hope and is why after the crisis we really expect that the representatives of the elite in the country can sit together and forget about their own interest for once and put the common good on the table and see that this is now our top priority. We will live all together or we’ll die alone. This is our hope at this point. If we have a prayer request for Haiti, I would ask that you pray we stop living as individuals in the country but live as a real community that is thinking and working toward a common good.
That's very well said, thank you. That's true for all of us and certainly Haiti needs leaders of competency and character who are pursuing the common good, not just their own individual interest. I want to add to your prayer too, to the continued safety of our students and our staff and our alumni but more importantly is the well-being of the Haitian people and that this is an opportunity that Haiti can step out of a lot of the dysfunction and the difficulty and chaos, because of everyone pursuing their own individual interests and not the interest of the common. I thank you Junior for taking this time to chat and I appreciate it and thank you for all the work that you and the team are doing in Haiti. Please stay safe and know that we're thinking of you guys and praying for you, and now the entire extended family is thinking and praying for you as well. Thank you for joining us everyone and we're grateful for your partnership in all of this. Have a great day.