“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, . . .” (Matt. 25:34-36 NIV)
The Church of the Brethren is walking with our sisters and brothers in Haiti as they seek relief and recovery from the magnitude 7.2 earthquake which struck the southwest of the country on Aug. 14, 2021, as well as the effects of Tropical Storm Grace, which passed over the same area a few days afterward, bringing wind, up to 10 inches of rain, and flooding. The human toll of the quake and storm (over 2,248 dead, several hundred people missing, at least 12,268 injured, over 30,000 homeless, and a traumatized population still healing from 2016’s Hurricane Matthew), as well as the structural and infrastructural damage and destruction, reveal a disaster of huge proportions that will require a long-term response.
YOUR SUPPORT FOR THE HAITI EARTHQUAKE RESPONSE IS CRITICAL
Brethren Disaster Ministries is partnering with the Eglises des Freres d’Haiti (Church of the Brethren in Haiti) as they develop their response to the earthquake. As an immediate response, an Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) relief grant of $5,000 was extended to the Haitian church within days of the disaster to enable them to provide some immediate relief supplies such as food, shelter, water, and hygiene and medical supplies. Brethren Disaster Ministries is partnering with the Haitian Church and working with them to determine the best way for the U.S. church to support their earthquake response. An additional $75,000 EDF grant was later approved to support emergency relief and the beginning of their recovery program.
Haitian Church National Committee members traveled to the earthquake affected region soon after the disaster to bring not only relief supplies, but also prayers, concern, and encouragement. They also did a preliminary assessment of the damage and needs in the area around the town of Saut Mathurine, where, after Hurricane Matthew, EDF grants funded a joint BDM/Haitian Church of the Brethren response supporting relief, agricultural programs, and home rebuilding which led to a church plant and an enthusiastic and growing congregation. Many people were injured during the earthquake, including one child and one adult within the Brethren congregation. Ninety percent of the homes in the area and the temporary church building were destroyed in the earthquake. However, they were pleased to see that the homes built during the joint hurricane response were some of the only buildings with little or no damage.
Brethren Disaster Ministries is working with the Haitian church leaders to develop a budget and plan for the joint earthquake relief and recovery response which will involve a multi-year effort which is expected to cost several hundred thousand dollars.
Immediate needs identified in Saut Mathurine by the church leaders were
- Food and potable water
- Medical care
- Hygiene and sanitation supplies
Longer-term needs may also include
- Home reconstruction
- Water supply
- Livelihood support
- Trauma healing and resiliency training
Eager to bring assistance and hope to the Saut Mathurine church and community, Haitian church leaders began their response in earnest. Although the journey to the southern peninsula was hampered by a fuel shortage, disruption by those along the road who also wanted assistance, and gangs that controlled the roads, several vehicles were able to reach the town with relief items such as food, clothes, and tarps. This included supplies that had been sent by container from the Miami Haitian Church of the Brethren.
Knowing that a supply depot would be needed to store materials for the construction phase of the recovery response, a site was quickly identified and a design was chosen for a structure which will eventually include a new Church of the Brethren on the upper level. What will become the basement of the building will include storage space as well as housing for workers. Construction has also begun on the first homes for those who lost their housing during the earthquake.
We are extremely thankful for the way in which these faithful Brethren are walking in faith to meet the needs of the earthquake survivors as well as supporting the local congregation.
BDM is also partnering with Church World Service (CWS), which is working with partners in Pestel (Grand’Anse department), where they responded to damage from Hurricane Matthew. An EDF grant of $50,000 supports the CWS response involving emergency relief, home rebuilding, psychosocial and trauma recovery support, livelihood programs, and water infrastructure repairs.
For additional information, please contact BDM at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-451-4407. For information about the Eglises des Freres d’Haiti (Church of the Brethren in Haiti), visit www.brethren.org/global/haiti.