In war-torn Haiti, Vodou draws thousands seeking comfort, protection from gangs

The Vodou faithful sing, their voices rising above the gunfire erupting miles away as frantic drumbeats drown out their troubles, twirling in unison as they sing in Haitian Creole: “We don’t care if they hate us, because they can’t bury us.”

Shunned publicly by politicians and intellectuals for centuries, Vodou is transforming into a more powerful and accepted religion across Haiti, where its believers were once persecuted. Increasingly, they seek solace and protection from violent gangs that have killed, raped, and kidnapped thousands in recent years.

The violence has left more than 360,000 people homeless, largely shut down Haiti’s biggest seaport, and closed the main international airport two months ago. Basic goods including food and life-saving medication are dwindling; nearly 2 million Haitians are on the verge of famine.

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