How Did This Country End Up Here?

I’ve been asking God lately “How did this country end up here?” And it’s not just the poverty or the injustice or the amount of orphans or rubble from natural disasters. It’s more specifically how did women end up this way here in Haiti? Why is it, that they are so oppressed & shut down? Where did this animosity come from and why would the enemy attack women in this way? 

Let me paint a picture for you of what that looks like. Not too long ago, I met a woman living in a blue tarp tent. She had several unclothed dusty babies running around with snot hanging from their noses. One little one, no more than 6 months old, sat in the dirt, entertaining himself out of necessity, probably due to habitual neglect. I spoke with the children’s mother and immediately out of no where, a man showed up. He stepped in front of her and became the ‘head figure” of the conversation. He began to answer for her and he described a wild sob story about how he needed money. I quickly realized our time there would not be productive and so I decided to make a surprise visit the next day. That visit led to her sitting in my office, wringing out her hands with her eyes fixed on the ground. She shared with me the absolute misery that was her past. Her family sold her and sent her to become a child slave where she was abused and treated poorly. She eventually ran away at the age of 13 and met a 55 year old man who told her he could save her. By 14 she was pregnant with her first child from him. He took care of her and she provided sex in return. She said she loved him and that it was never forced, but at 13, was she not in a very vulnerable position? How would she truly know what love is? Especially when considering that her previous circumstances reflected an even worse alternative.   She then shared that her current husband had been beating her and she wasn’t sure if she could leave without serious ramifications. I offered her a place to live, and a week later she turned me down and said she just couldn’t leave her old life.

A couple weeks ago, 31 girls between the ages of 13-16 were rescued by local authorities from a child sex trafficking ring bound for the Dominican only 30 minutes from our New Life Center. A short time after that rescue, we got word that a 16 girl was lured to a location and assaulted by 4 men with guns but somehow got away. More than likely, this was the traffic ring trying to start up again now that their “product” was depleted from the recent raid.

I’ve watched woman after woman who live in broken down brothels and who subject themselves to wearing tiny shorts & flirty smiles all for the sake of feeding their children. Reduced to nothing more than a warm body and $1.75 plate of food. I know of children who have been sexually abused by family members.  I’ve met women who pitch their tent on another person’s land and pay rent by giving the landowner sex whenever he wants. 

I know this is hard to hear and talk about, but that heart break and disgust you feel now, it’s HEALTHY. It has a PURPOSE. It’s made to move us into ACTION!

Some of you may think I’m a bit crazy in deciding to live in a place that is surrounded with such injustice and heartbreak. I don’t blame you. You may be right. After all, I am living in the most impoverished country in the Western Hemisphere. But there was something inside of me that COMPELLED me to move here. There was something inside me that broke at the things I saw. And that something inside me, it MOVED me to action.

I’ve always had this extreme compassion for people. Even at a very young age, my mother said I was drawn to the kid who didn’t have friends and I always sat with them. But around the age of 5, I was sexually abused by a young girl. And that was the day my heart began to shut down and shut out. I remember my mom asking me years later. “What happened to my compassionate little girl?..” The truth is, I didn’t know what to tell her. Now, I understand what happened to her. She was silenced and cutoff at the knees. And all this happened in the hopes of crushing what God is using me for today in Haiti.  I could have easily stayed broken and closed off. But fortunately, the light always wins and God saw fit to heal that little girl and give her New Life again. 

Through my own pain, God has shown me what He has made me for and why women are so oppressed here. It’s LOVE. Love is what us women, no matter what country we live in, have in common.  LOVE is what moved me to Haiti. And it is why you feel the way you do now after hearing about the brokenness in Haitian women. I believe God gave women a unique gifting to LOVE. I think men absolutely love, but there is something so very powerful and relentless about a mother’s love or the compassion and heart of a woman. It’s also why the enemy has done his best to crush women, keep them wounded, and chain them to bitterness, lack of forgiveness and hurt. Because if the enemy can take away that LOVE; the very LOVE that sent Jesus to the cross, then the chances of the world around us changing are very slim.

If you made it to the end of this and you feel that tension in your chest and ache in your heart… It may just be God trying to MOVE you to ACTION. Maybe He wants you to come visit Haiti to serve and see with your own eyes the tragic assault on the value of women. Or perhaps he is speaking to you to contribute financially to New Life Campaign.  Maybe it’s time to feel the heart ache and do something purposeful with it. I did! And it was the hardest most worthwhile decision I have ever made. I’m beginning to see light drive out darkness in a way that only God can be responsible for. God uses regular people like you and me to do that. He loves us so much that He allows us to be part of what He's doing in the world and in in our case, in Haiti.

This is a call to do more than push aside or sit on the compassion, heart ache and disgust. It’s a call to ACTION. 

For more information on how YOU can be a part of what God is doing trough New Life Campaign in Haiti, please visit our website at or send a quick email to and ask us how you can join us in the fight against abuse & exploitation in Haiti.

Blessings in Jesus Name,

Salem Hicks