Haiti Earthquake: To Weep and To Hope

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

Romans 12:15, ESV

Right now we weep with our Haitian neighbors.

The Aug. 14 Haiti earthquake devastated the southern part of the country where over 17,000 children in Compassion’s program live. The latest reports from our Compassion Haiti National Office indicate that 6,000 Compassion-assisted children have been displaced, and at least 46 child development centers have been damaged or destroyed. If you sponsor a child in Haiti, I know you’re probably agonizing as you wait to hear about their well-being.

See the latest Haiti earthquake updates.

At least 46 child development centers were damaged in Saturday’s earthquake.

My first reaction to the news of the most recent Haiti earthquake was to lament and ask, “Will Haiti’s suffering ever ease? Will the Haitian people ever have enough time to rebuild before another disaster or conflict sets them back?” It reminds me of a Haitian proverb I heard while I was there in 2014: “Beyond mountains there are mountains.” It means that just when you think you’ve solved a problem, another one appears.

But it occurred to me while working through my emotions that I might be weeping FOR my Haitian neighbors rather than WITH them. I think there is a difference, albeit subtle. For so long the rest of the world has seen Haiti as a nation to be pitied — little more than a sad charity case. Of course, as an organization that works to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name, we cannot ignore the fact that Haiti is the most impoverished nation in the Western Hemisphere. That’s why Compassion partners with sponsors and Indigenous Haitian churches to help children and their families there.

But Haiti is more than that. It’s also rich in culture, natural resources including oil and gold, and tropical beauty. So when I started thinking about what it truly means to weep WITH my Haitian neighbors, I immediately thought of the meaning of compassion. The Latin prefix -com means with, and passion (pati in Latin) means suffering or enduring. The word compassion literally means to suffer with.

So how do we weep with our Haitian brothers and sisters and show true compassion? I think it starts with being brave enough to see things from their perspective without offering judgment or answers. Imagine what it’s like to see a loved one die or not know whether they’re alive. Imagine what it’s like for your home and belongings to be destroyed. Imagine what it’s like to lose your means of income as your community is thrown into chaos. It’s hard to let our hearts break open like this. But we must.

Looking Ahead by Looking Back

Haitian workers rebuild a school that was destroyed in the 2010 earthquake
Haitian crews rebuild a school and child development center in 2014 with funds donated through Compassion after the 2010 quake.

Even as we allow ourselves to be brokenhearted with Haiti, I’d like to share a few photos and stories from a brighter time in the country — as a reminder that Haitians will once again have reason to rejoice. I traveled there in 2014 with Compassion Magazine to report on the progress since the devastating 2010 earthquake, which affected a different part of Haiti than the Aug. 14 quake. Our team visited dozens of schools that Compassion donors had helped local Haitians rebuild since the disaster.

Sylvio feeds his baby daughter a vitamin drink

Here Sylvio feeds a vitamin drink to his daughter Neisha at a church in Haiti. They joined Compassion’s Survival Program a few years after losing their home in the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Neisha’s mother was injured during childbirth, so Sylvio had to stay home to care for her and Neisha rather than work at a job. After he was connected with a church in his community, he started taking Neisha — who had been malnourished — to the church building for vitamin drinks, medicine, health checkups and playtime.

Eriner in his bakery in Haiti holding freshly baked rolls

Eriner started a popular bakery in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, after participating in a small-business program offered by Compassion’s church partners after the 2010 earthquake. Haitians lined up to buy his freshly baked rolls, bread loaves and other goodies. The business provided a steady income for his family, including his daughters in Compassion’s program.

A rebuilt school in Haiti

Our Haitian partners built this gorgeous school and child development center using funds donated to Compassion after the 2010 quake. Over two dozen schools were built in Haiti using the gifts. Many of Compassion’s centers in Haiti double as schools for children, which is a unique and necessary approach because public schools don’t often provide quality teaching and private schools are too expensive for most families.

Erickson's home was rebuilt after the 2010 Haiti earthquake

This is Erickson, a youth in Compassion’s program, and his parents, who lost their home in the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Erickson’s mom was trapped under rubble for days before help arrived, and Erickson helped keep her alive. With the help of their local church using gifts from generous donors, Erickson’s family received a new home and started a shop selling purified water in their community.

Weep and Rejoice

I hope this gives you hope that Haitians will once again rejoice, and when they do, we will rejoice with them. Until then, we continue to weep with them — to imagine without judgment what life is like for them right now; to listen to their stories; to share words of encouragement in letters to our sponsored children; and to equip our Haitian church partners in their disaster relief efforts. Join us to stand in hope with Haiti.

You can provide medical care, shelter, food, clean water and counseling to children affected by the devastating Aug. 14 Haiti earthquake. Learn how.

Photography by Chuck Bigger and Erick Jura.

27 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Nassolo. Cossy September 11, 2021

    Thank you Soo much for your prayers please help too on my children please in Jesus Christ

    1. Mackenzie September 13, 2021

      Hello Cossy, thank you very much for reaching out about your children. Could you please send us an email at socialmedia@compassion.com so we can speak to you further about this? We look forward to receiving your email!

  2. Tommy August 25, 2021

    Blessing’s and Prayer’s for the children and their family’s. I am a new sponsor, I had just gotten my first letter from Bethsael, the little boy I sponsor the day before the earthquake. I learned of the quake two days later, after coming from church. I started praying and trying to make sense of it. For now I will keep helping with disaster relief for them. Keeping them All in my prayers.

    1. Grace August 26, 2021

      Thank you so much for your prayers, Tommy! We know this is such a difficult time for sponsors who want to help, and for the children and their families that have been affected by this earthquake. I know prayer is so powerful and means so much to Bethsael right now! 🙏 We are so grateful for your help with the disaster relief for Haiti, as these funds are allowing our staff to distribute food kits, hygiene kits, and provide medical care! We will be posting general updates about Haiti as we get them on our page here: https://cintl.us/compassionhaiti.
      Please know that we are praying for your precious sponsor child! Many blessings.

  3. Randy August 25, 2021

    The earthquake struck Haiti as I was celebrating my 66th birthday. Feels like we live in a world a universe away from our compassion child who lives very close to the epicenter of the earthquake. Not knowing of Line or her families safety or shelter makes my anxiety grow as even I struggle with months of loss of income to help her family and the center that serves her.

    1. Shannon August 25, 2021

      Hi Randy,

      I am so sorry you are worried about your sweet child in Haiti! Please know we do not yet have a full report of our kiddos situations, as it is just too early, but when we do we will reach out to those supporters who do have children who have been affected to let them know. In cases like these, no news is good news. Please know we will also post general updates here: https://cintl.us/compassionhaiti . We are in prayer over each one of these children and their families as well! 💙

  4. Lydia M Rodman August 23, 2021

    May God’s protection be with all of Haiti, especially the children and those which are there to help. Sending prayers with love. God’s blessings always.

  5. Carol Moffat August 23, 2021

    Many prayers for Haiti, and for our dear little girl. I hope that we will soon know how the children that we sponsor are doing. With 17,000 Compassion Children, I know that it will not be easy to get all of that information quickly. We will be grateful when we learn how our child and her family is doing. Thank you for all you do. Will be checking in often for updates. With Love, Carol

  6. Taaka Nowerina Bedi August 23, 2021

    May our great God continue covering and protecting our lovely sisters and brothers in Haiti.

  7. Janice and Bruce Erickson August 23, 2021

    We are praying for all of Haiti and especially for our sponsored child and her family. We know our God in on control and with each and every one that is there helping to restore each family that has been affected. God Bless each and everyone of you at Compassion and keep you safe.

    1. Nicole August 23, 2021

      Thank you, Janice and Bruce, for all of your prayers and blessings! We join you in praying for your precious girl as well. 💛

  8. Kelly August 22, 2021

    We are praying for all those in Haiti who have been impacted by this earthquake. I finally was able to receive a letter from my sponsor child Wilclef in July and he was so thankful and excited to be going to school for his Senior year. It was so good to hear that he was doing well after experiencing the COVID year and I pray for all the kids affected by this earthquake that they can see how God will get them through this terrible thing that has happened to Haiti. Thank you Compassion for being the vessel we can use to serve these children and their families. I was sitting in church this morning thinking about would I be able to keep the faith if I kept getting knocked down and knocked down like Haiti has. I have come to realize that is when God works his miracles the most and we all realize how much we need a Savior! The Christian Haitians are an inspiration to me to make sure that I keep my eyes on Jesus and his love He has for all of us.

    1. Nicole August 23, 2021

      Thank you so much for praying, Kelly, and for sharing a little about Wilclef! 💙 We are grateful for the love and support you pour into his life! As a fellow sponsor, I completely understand how God reminds us of how great He is through our relationships with fellow Christians around the world. Thank you for sharing this with us!

  9. Jerry Sweeten August 22, 2021

    Thank YOU, Compassion, for bringing this story by “looking back” as we now look forward, offering hope to all of God’s children. With other national and world news, this tragedy gets pushed back and off the head-lines. Haitians need our help as much, if not more, than what drives the news.

  10. Stephen Alderink August 21, 2021

    Thank you so much for the update!
    I am thankful that God is on the throne! I too am waiting anxiously for word of my precious Achinsie.
    Not knowing is troubling, yet the peace that passes all understanding has comforted us all.
    My prayer is for a full recovery for this devastated nation.
    For their leaders and for their peoples.

    1. Nicole August 23, 2021

      Thank you for your prayers, Stephen! We are deeply encouraged by your words. 💙

  11. Debbie Mock August 21, 2021

    Thank you Willow for the new and correct perspective on our kids. I love the phrase “my far away friend”. i will use it with my boy Allan in Guatemala. I have a young girl, now 14 yrs. with UNTO ME that i get no info from. But after reading your story that should not matter. God gave her to me for a reason and i just pray she and her family are benefiting from her gifts. God is in control. God Bless you and all involved with Compassion! And with the people of Haiti…

  12. Shirley Norah August 21, 2021

    I’m praying that God restore all that you have lost God still set high and look low He will make a way for you in all that you have been through just no God is with you 🙏

  13. Medrine Nabalema August 19, 2021

    Praying for all our neighbours in Haiti during this trying time. There is hope indeed as shared Willow. Thank you for taking us along this journey of Hope.

    1. Grace August 20, 2021

      Thank you for joining us in prayer and standing strong in hope, Medrine!

  14. Bonnie Lee Saltzman August 19, 2021

    I pray for my two Compassion daughters one in Haiti and the other in Gahana each night and anxiously wait for news from both. God knows
    our needs and He cares for His children.

    1. Grace August 20, 2021

      Bonnie, thank you so much for praying for your two sweet sponsor girls! I wanted to reassure you that we will notify you as soon as possible if your girl from Haiti was affected by the earthquake. In this case, no news is good news. 💙 I know your love, support, and prayers for your girls are making a huge difference in their lives!

  15. Mary Marentette August 19, 2021

    I pray for Haiti, and love them. I praise our Lord who is sovereign and ask him to bless Compassion International for all the love they give.

    1. Grace August 20, 2021

      Thank you so much for your prayers and words of encouragement, Mary! We are so blessed by your support!

  16. Jane Ruth M Wanyama August 19, 2021

    Thank you Willow for the updates. Our God is still on the throne whatever the situation. Yes, Haiti will be rebuilt again!

  17. Karen Howell August 19, 2021

    I am praying for all all of the Haitian people at this time. While I anxiously await information for my sponsored child, I am trusting that, although we don’t know what the future holds from day to day, we definitely know Who
    holds our futures.
    Although I don’t understand the purpose of what is happening right now in Haiti, I am always amazed at the faith of my sponsored child. She totally trusts in God’s will for her life, and I have learned so much by her faith.
    That 15 year old girl has taught this 67 year old woman so much!

    1. Nicole August 19, 2021

      Hi, Karen! Thank you so much for your prayers! 💙 I was personally encouraged by how your sponsored child has influenced your own walk with God. Please rest assured that we will contact you as soon as possible, if your child was affected by the disaster in Haiti. We are praying with you!

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