The Audacity of Ayiti: Community efforts to push justice forward

Publication date
Nedgine Paul Deroly, Anseye Pou Ayiti Co-Founder and CEO
Haitian students in their yellow and brown school uniforms gather in a school courtyard

Li mesaj orijinal lan an Kreyòl

When I am asked about Ayiti (Haiti), the word “audacity” often comes to mind.

The audacity to challenge the world order, rooted in slavery and oppression. The audacity to become the world's first Black republic. The audacity to support other countries in their efforts to overthrow slavery. The audacity to know that 2024 headlines about Ayiti do not reflect our power. The audacity of the APA movement being our nation's next cultural revolution.

Yet this next cultural revolution – rooted in equity and justice – is not just about audacity. This is about necessity.

It has been a heartbreaking time for Haitians. Recent international media coverage has highlighted much of the violence, political unrest, and resulting humanitarian crisis in Haiti. The epicenter of the violence remains the capital city of Port-au-Prince. Recent estimates show upward of 80% of the capital city are under gang control. 

Yet the ripple effects are felt across the country – including economic inflation, increased difficulty of access to food and supplies, and fear of how far the gang violence may spread. Not to mention the very real consequences of the gangs attacking all aspects of our country's public institutions.

The questions are many. So much is unclear: How will we return to functioning government systems? How do we heal from trauma as a nation? How do we appropriately support millions of displaced families, forced to flee gang-controlled areas? How do we restore faith in elected officials and democratic principles? How do we learn from what has happened, to avoid the vicious cycle from repeating itself?

What is clear: No one person, no one group, no one organization has the answers. Anseye Pou Ayiti (APA) has always believed in and invested in collective leadership. Now more than ever, we need collective action among all those who believe in mighty Haiti. Among all those who know that while the problems are many, the solutions are possible. 

A group photo of Anseye Pou Ayiti staff in matching blue shirts posing outside their office

During these past weeks, I've been asked what makes the APA movement different. How we can continue to push forward. I am deeply moved by our extraordinary cohort members who can answer best. They answer that APA is an oasis. That our gatherings, workshops, and community events are a respite. That our network of 600+ civic leaders remain active because in APA they found their tribe, a family of other freedom fighters who are relentless in contributing to Haiti's restoration. 

 We are in this for the long haul.

APA's investments in community-deep transformation and in a network of Haitian civic leaders will persist. And we will prevail. This year marks the 10th anniversary of our movement. We reached this milestone because of the unwavering support of allies and partners. One of those allies is renowned Haitian author Edwidge Danticat, also now a member of APA’s 10th Anniversary Campaign Committee. Edwidge recently published an essential read in The New Yorker to contextualize the current situation in Haiti and remind us all about the necessity of hope. 

 Because of our allies’ support, APA's team is able to prove that two things can be true at once. While the country's capital currently faces unprecedented turmoil, at the same time there are Haitian civic leaders leading a cultural revolution. These past weeks, all APA partner schools have been functioning. Our team is safe, and the APA network is fortunate to still be operating due to being in the rural provinces (outside of Port-au-Prince). APA teacher leaders, school leaders, and parent leaders are working every day to ensure equity and justice. Hundreds of our community members are coming together to protect and uplift their own neighborhoods – including over 300 participants in APA's community "konbit" in March, and then over 400 participants for a community open forum. Thousands of students are being equipped to restore Haiti to its rightful place as world leader.

Because liberation is the goal. Nothing less. 

The APA movement has proven what is possible during the last decade. We will not settle until we are all free.