Church of the Brethren delegation visits site of earthquake in Haiti

By Eric Miller

Ilexene Alphonse, pastor of Eglise des Freres Haitiens, a Haitian Brethren congregation in Miami, Fla.; Jenn Dorsch-Messler, director of Brethren Disaster Ministries; and Eric Miller, co-executive director for Global Mission traveled to Saut Mathurine in southwest Haiti in the second week of September.

Miller will share about the trip and the Brethren response to the earthquake in a Facebook Live event on Thursday, Sept. 23, at 7 p.m. (Eastern time). Connect at www.facebook.com/events/436858537746098.

The southwest region of Haiti was hit by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake on Aug. 14. The group surveyed the damage, observed an emergency food distribution and medical clinic arranged by L’Eglise des Freres d’Haiti (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti), and met with members and leaders of the Saut Mathurine congregation of L’Eglise des Freres d’Haiti.

The delegation poses for a group picture with some of the National Committee leadership of L’Eglise des Freres d’Haiti and some Saut Mathurine leadership. At center, holding up a book, is Durose Moliere, pastor of Saut Mathurine Church of the Brethren. Photo courtesy of Ilexene Alphonse

Eight people in the community lost their lives, including Haitian Brethren cousins Lovenika (age 7) and Dieuveux (age 50-plus). The temporary building housing the congregation was destroyed, as were other church buildings in the community. Nearly all of the homes were rendered uninhabitable, with the exception of about a dozen homes built by Brethren Disaster Ministries following Hurricane Matthew in 2016. At the time of the visit, families had built temporary structures of wood, tarpaulins, and corrugated metal sheets. The church also built a small structure to store chairs and serve as a meeting place.

The delegation also met with the National Committee of L’Eglise des Freres d’Haiti to discuss planning for disaster relief, which will be carried out by the Saut Mathurine congregation along with the Haiti Medical Project. Alphonse, who is a former Church of the Brethren staff member in Haiti, will assist with communication and coordination between Brethren Disaster Ministries and L’Eglise des Freres d’Haiti for the joint earthquake response.

People expressed gratitude for the visit. Said one Haitian Brethren leader and community activist: “Because of your visit here today, the community is starting to smile.”

— Eric Miller is co-executive director of Global Mission for the Church of the Brethren.

Earthquake destruction in the area of Saut Mathurine in southwest Haiti. Photo by Ilexene Alphonse
Members of the Saut Mathurine community check in for a medical clinic offered through the Haiti Medical Project. Shown here, a temperature and blood pressure check. Photo by Jenn Dorsch-Messler
One of the dozen-some homes in the Saut Mathurine community that survived the earthquake, that were built by Brethren Disaster Ministries following Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Photo by Jenn Dorsch-Messler
Water filter kit buckets distributed by the Haitian Brethren to earthquake survivors in the Saut Mathurine community. Photo by Eric Miller

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