Several Christian Reformed development workers were on the front lines of Haiti’s recent presidential election, serving as monitors.
Kristie van de Wetering, a member of First Christian Reformed Church, New Westminster, British Columbia, served as a coordinator of an elections observation project with a Haitian human-rights organization. She pulled together a 104-member team of citizens and international observers to keep watch at electoral locales for human-rights abuses and irregularities, disorder, and fraud in the electoral process.
Jonathan de Koning, 21, is a student at The King’s University College in Edmonton, Alberta, who has been in Haiti since October. De Koning accompanied Edwin Dening, a member of Maranatha CRC in Edmonton. The two were dispatched to a northeast area of the country.
“As Haitians headed to the polls there was tension in the country and fear that a proper democratic process would not take place,” said de Koning, a member of Woodynook CRC in Lacombe, Alberta. “The [Haitians’] excitement to vote was in stark contrast to back home.”
Despite long lines, overcrowded offices, and the press of frustrated voters, the elections remained relatively calm. “People’s resolve to vote was amazing to witness, and it was great to experience the process of democracy [here] firsthand,” de Koning said.
Dening, who has worked in Haiti for 14 years, said it was “phenomenal to see Haitians fighting to vote. We observed 300 people standing in the cool dark morning 5:30 a.m., waiting to vote. People who were not able to vote because of faulty registrations wept with frustration and disappointment.”
Haitians elected Rene Preval of the Lespwa Party as their new president. Lespwa is the Haitian Creole word for hope.
Dening expressed hope for Haiti’s future that “the will of the people will actually prevail and that powers-that-be will not once more crush the hope of the majority.”