While we continue delivering food and supply kits to our church partners for the immediate relief of the families they serve, we are beginning to shift our focus from short-term relief to longer-term solutions.
One possible component of a larger strategic approach includes working with other organizations in Haiti to implement income-generating activities for those who have lost homes, property and the means to provide for themselves.
Beginning in March and continuing every three months, we will begin hosting conferences and workshops for key church leaders in Haiti. We not only want to encourage them, but we also want to challenge them to be a prophetic voice during this time.
Edouard Lassegue, Vice President of the Central America and Caribbean Region says,
“Compassion has earned respect in Haiti and we are uniquely positioned to leverage that respect and the strong relationships we have developed with church leaders. We want to use our credibility to encourage them to be a voice for what is right, for service, for responsibility — that is what is required in a time like this.”
As far as the children themselves, safety is our top priority. Until children and their families can move back into permanent dwellings, protecting them in the tent cities is essential.
“The way these children are exposed and vulnerable is getting a lot of publicity. We are ramping up awareness among our church partners — things to look for and be ready for and ways to prepare the children themselves so they do not fall prey.”
Getting the children back into school is also a key step in returning normalcy to their lives. The Haitian government has set March 1 as a possible day for schools to resume, and we are helping our church partners work toward that goal for as many of the sponsored children as possible.
We are working with Engineering Ministries International (EMI) to assess the buildings of church partners that were damaged by the earthquake. We are committed to their repair, and EMI will help us design new buildings and facilities that are earthquake safe.
Until the buildings can be repaired or built, children may meet in tents. Many of them are still afraid to go into buildings, and our priority is to give them some sense of routine and normalcy.
Our staff in Haiti continues the difficult process of taking a census of each and every registered child who was “significantly affected” by the earthquake. Staff members are back in the office building and doing some regular activities, which has helped them to focus on what needs to be done and not think of the hardship as much.
To assist our staff during the grieving process,
“We are deploying a team of counselors from Haiti and south Florida —Haitian Americans who understand the language and the culture — who can talk with people directly and in groups about what they can expect as they work through this, and how to help their families and beneficiaries. We are aware of the fact that it will be quite awhile for them to get back to where they were.”
As great as their sense of loss is their sense of gratitude for all the support and generosity they have received from around the world.
Please continue to pray for our staff members, that they would be a blessing to others and not lose heart, and that in spite of their own pain, they are bearing fruit and making a difference.
Pray as well for our first church conference the week of March 8. Pray that the church in Haiti raises a banner of direction and hope for the future of the country.