Church World Service Distributes Food, Water, Supplies in Haiti

Above: Warehouse of disaster relief supplies at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. The supplies distributed in Haiti by Church World Service (CWS) are warehoused, processed, and shipped from the Brethren Service Center by the Church of the Brethren’s Material Resources staff. For video reports of the Haiti relief effort at the Brethren Service Center, made by Brethren videographer David Sollenberger, go to PageServer?pagename=serve_brethren_disaster_ministries

To help with the Haiti relief effort, Brethren across the country are collecting and donating hygiene kits, baby care kits, and school kits. The kits are assembled according to instructions from CWS ( ) and then sent to the Brethren Service Center for processing and shipment to Haiti. Below: Sunday school classes at Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., helped put together more than 300 hygiene kits after worship yesterday, Jan. 24. Photos by Joel Brumbaugh-Cayford

Church of the Brethren Newsline
Jan. 25, 2010

Church World Service (CWS), an ecumenical part of the Church of the Brethren, has reported on its work to distribute water, food, supplies, and provide medical care following the earthquake in Haiti, in its most recent “situation report” from Haiti dated Friday Jan. 22.

“Via prepositioned CWS supplies, CWS partners were able to begin assisting survivors within 24 hours of the quake,” the report said. “CWS and its partners continue to respond to the needs of survivors both in and outside the capital of Port-au-Prince. Attention is also now turning to survivors who are now expected to leave the capital of Port-au-Prince for rural areas and into displacement camps just outside the city. Some 400,000 persons are expected to move to the camps.”

The report gave an updated figure on the loss of life, that some 200,000 people may have been killed. It added that “setting up effective distribution systems to the majority of the affected population remains a challenge.”

CWS is working closely with long-time partner Servicio Social de Igelesias Dominicana (SSID), which also is a partner organization of the Church of the Brethren in the Dominican Republic. Relief items including kits and blankets that had been pre-positioned for disasters in the Santo Domingo warehouse of SSID, arrived in Port-au-Prince last week along with water and sanitation equipment that been shipped as part of CWS-supported efforts by the ACT Alliance–another ecumenical partner organization of the Church of the Brethren.

With the CWS pre-positioned supplies, “SSID was able to provide relief to the victims of Haiti’s massive earthquake in the first 24 hours,” the update said. On the day after the earthquake, Jan. 13, SSID sent a flight with supplies to Port-au-Prince “and their staff were able to see the needs firsthand and quickly provide the most crucial supplies,” CWS reported.

The next day, SSID was able to bring in a second flight of medical supplies, blankets for those without shelter, and food and water. The organization continues to transport needed supplies to Port-au-Prince and the Dominican border, and is coordinating medical teams to set up temporary field hospitals.

The CWS response has included several shipments of relief goods from the United States, sent through the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. Staff of the Church of the Brethren’s Material Resources program are responsible for the shipments, which are made on behalf of ecumenical partners like CWS:

— An air-freight shipment containing 500 lightweight blankets; 1,125 baby care kits–some CWS Baby Care Kits and some from partner Lutheran World Relief (LWR); 10,595 hygiene kits, most from CWS and 325 from LWR; 720 tubes of toothpaste from LWR; and 25 flashlights with batteries arrived on Friday, Jan. 22, in Santo Domingo, the DR.

— A shipment by ocean ship is to arrive in Santo Domingo on Feb. 2 containing 500 light-weight blankets; 13,325 hygiene kits–13,000 from CWS and 325 from LWR; and 375 baby care kits.

— Another shipment also expected to arrive in Santo Domingo on Feb. 2 contains 2,950 blankets, 3,150 baby care kits; and 7,215 hygiene kits.

— An air shipment of 60 cartons of IMA World Health medicine boxes is expected to arrive in

Santo Domingo tomorrow, Jan. 26. Each box contains enough essential medicines and medical supplies to treat the routine ailments of about 1,000 adults and children.

In addition, CWS and partner organizations are assisting Haitians who may try to enter the neighboring Dominican Republic, establishing a storage and distribution center in the Dominican city of Jimaní which is the most convenient place for crossing to Port-au-Prince. The Episcopal Church of Jimaní has given its building to be used as long as needed for doctors, rescue teams, visitors, and volunteers, and it will serve as the hub for CWS and partner operations. A storage/supply center for 100 containers has been established in Jimani.

Within Haiti, CWS has established a first aid clinic and emergency room in the Christian School of Parisien, some eight kilometers from the Haiti/DR border and about two hours from Port-au-Prince. The facility has space and capacity for no more than 30 patients at a time.

The hub of a five-center CWS distribution network is located in Pétionville, a suburb of Port-au-Prince which itself received damage in the earthquake.

CWS also is establishing food and supply distribution sites through Haitian churches and managed through different Haitian nonprofit and community leader associations. For example, the children’s program of Ecumenical Foundation for Peace and Justice (SKDE), a CWS partner, will deliver a range of services to children in the Carrefour and La Saline areas of Port-au-Prince. CWS is reorganizing and expanding the network of volunteers trained by Cuban missionaries from the Cuban Council of Churches, to work with people with disabilities in neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince. CWS is assisting in restoring the operating capacity of Service Chretien d’Haiti and SKDE so they can provide direct services to earthquake survivors.

CWS reports that its long-term work in Haiti will focus on food security in rural areas. In Port-au-Prince, the CWS response is focusing on work with at-risk children and with people with disabilities.

“Alex Morse, working with CWS in the DR, reports that some injured Haitians in the hospital (in Parisien) who are recovering are attempting to re-injure themselves because ‘once they are well they will be sent back to Haiti, where there is nothing for them,’” the situation report said.

Morse also asked for continued prayer support for Haiti: “Please continue to lift up Haiti in your prayers, and pray for those working in the disaster…. Partners like SSID are working miracles here.”

The Church of the Brethren Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. Contact  to receive Newsline by e-mail or to submit news to the editor. For more Church of the Brethren news and features, subscribe to “Messenger” magazine; call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.

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