It hardly seems possible that over six months have already passed since shocking news of the January 12 earthquake in Haiti began to reach us. We remember the stunning photos of devastation. Our disbelief as the death toll mounted to more than 225,000 who had perished in mere moments (including 3 FM missionaries). Our tears as we watched on TV the desperate efforts to find those trapped by debris. Our sense of helplessness for more than one million homeless.
Now 6 months later, reconstruction remains an enormous task for the country overall, and the start of it has certainly been disjointed (more below). In short:
Amidst the disarray Christ’s church is bringing Ministry and GOOD NEWS!
The monumental relief effort to date by local and international agencies has managed to touch several millions of lives. Numerous charitable organizations including the
FREE METHODIST CHURCH have worked at the grassroots of society to develop a supply chain of life-sustaining necessities and more recently have commenced recovery and reconstruction.
Missionary Rick Ireland writers in July: “The Haitian people are moving forward, striving toward a new normalcy. The Free Methodist Church in Haiti is also on the move. Hundreds have come to know Christ in our churches since the earthquake, and the FM churches are disciplining and growing new Christians. At the same time they are working to repair or rebuild many churches and schools that were damaged or destroyed on January 12, 2010. Every day we see God’s hand at work! It is an exciting time to be here!“
HOW ARE FREE METHODISTS RESPONDING?
PRAISE the Lord for what has been accomplished since January by the Haiti Free Methodist Church, partnering with the FMCs in Canada, USA and other countries and relief agencies.
Financial assistance and now construction teams have been making a difference!
After January 12 the FMC in Canada stepped to the plate IMMEDIATELY. Substantial Canadian donations enabled compassionate support to the most needy during the early Relief phase and are being productively used during the longer-term Recovery efforts now underway and continuing into 2011 and beyond.
Canadian donations for Haiti have come through three channels:
- World Relief Canada
- FMCiC Bishop’s Relief Fund
- International Child Care Ministries (Canada)
1) WORLD RELIEF CANADA
WRC is our partner in responding to emergencies globally, and is well-connected in Haiti. We were able to move funds quickly to help with early Relief before the Free Methodist Church could mobilize its own program. Within one month of the quake, Canadian FMs donated $91,500 to WRC – a level 13% higher than by any other denomination! The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) matched these gifts, for a total of $183,000. In Port au Prince, World Relief has used funds for medical attention to hundreds of injured at Kings Hospital; and set up feeding centers with local churches for daily hot meals, water, non-food items and psychological support to thousands of people. Thank you for your early passionate response!!
2) BISHOP’S RELIEF FUND
Canadian FMs have contributed to date nearly $80,000 through this channel. Portions of this amount have been disbursed or allocated for the following, working also with leaders of the FMC in Haiti and the US to ensure that needs are prioritized and funds are handled in an accountable manner:
i) US$20,000 (allocated in late July) for the Free Methodist community in Morne a Bateau, near the quake’s epicentre. They lost the 2-story structure housing both its sanctuary and primary and secondary schools. Our donation will purchase a nearby building which withstood the quake [photos #1 and #2]. After repairs and upgrading, the school’s operations should fully resume by year’s end. Slots for work teams here are available for Sept 14-24 & Oct 16-26.
The congregation of Morne a Bateau continues to meet under a temporary wood & tarp structure [photo #3] where school classes have been held since the quake, using salvaged equipment. The roof needs some upgrading to protect from the elements.
This structure is sitting on a part of the concrete pad [photo #4] on which the destroyed church and school had been located. The congregation has itself cleared the debris and raised the funds to erect the wood & tarp structure. Any future reconstruction of a church on this site will have to be deferred until funds can be raised.
ii) US$5,000 – The work-team led by Ontario Pastor Jeff Nault and his Verona FMC will carry this amount to purchase construction materials when they go in late September to help repair the building which is being purchased at Morne a Bateau for use as a school.
iii) CDN$15,000 – Over 200 tents (of 8-10 person capacity, or equivalent) to improve the temporary shelter for displaced families living in “primitive encampments” under sheets, tarps or scrap metal. The tents have been dispatched as part of a larger shipment in a 20-foot container arranged through the courtesy of Spring Arbor (Michigan) FMC and www.giveatent.org . Photo #4 shows the loaded container and #5 shows packaged tents in the warehouse. Photo #7 shows a recipient of a tent in Haiti. Photo #8 shows FM Pastor Jean Marc Zamor and family in front of the tent which has been their home since the quake.
iv) CDN$5,000 — Support of missionary Rick Ireland from the Buffalo, NY area who was dispatched to Haiti in January on short notice to apply his critical expertise in financial administration and budget control to the handling of the donations from overseas. Plans have been carefully laid and due procedure followed to ensure prudent and accountable use of available funds from overseas donors.
v) CDN$10,000 – Repairs to homes of about 20 pastors of the Haiti FMC in the affected area.
Donations for Haiti still are welcomed through the Bishop’s Relief Fund. If you are looking for a fundraising idea, consider a local-church yard sale. A couple at Whitby (ON) FMC led in organizing one in June, and raised nearly $1000 for Haiti.
If you have questions about the recovery program in Haiti, contact Grant Sigsworth, Coordinator, Help Haiti Heal (Canada) via e-mail: [email protected] or telephone: 905-666-0029.
3) INTERNATIONAL CHILD CARE MINISTRIES (CANADA) has also been a major channel of donations for Haiti in 2010– to date, over $73,000 for earthquake relief as well as the ongoing initiatives: Haiti Food Fund and sponsored children and their families. Contact Paula Moriarity, Director, International Child Care Ministries – Canada.
The global FMC’s teamwork: The Canadian FMC obviously is not alone in supporting Haiti’s relief and recovery. During the early weeks and months after the quake, Free Methodists of the USA and 15 other countries were donating over $1.4 million directly through their churches. To develop sustainable management of these funds and related policies toward a long-term Recovery program, Haiti FMC leaders took the significant step in early February to create their own Emergency Response Steering Committee. US Bishop David Roller and our own Bishop Keith Elford guided this initiative.
On a day-to-day basis the Recovery program is ably coordinated by Haitian pastor Jean Marc Zamor. Early on, Jean Marc worked quickly to develop partnerships with major international relief agencies, obtaining, without cost, thousands of food kits, hygiene kits, tarps, tetanus and typhoid vaccinations and other medications to assist our Haiti FM communities. This important action served to preserve much of the $1+ million of global FMC donations for other uses in relief and reconstruction. Photos #9 shows the packaging (in pails) of early relief materials and #10 the pails of materials being distributed to a congregation.
The Recovery program also has been starting children’s clubs to assist with trauma counselling, undertaken structural inspections on schools, churches and homes; hired Haitians to demolish damaged buildings; and arranged for training of the pastors and the builders of replacement facilities, teaching them what building practices have to change for buildings to survive future earthquakes. Pastoral care has continued to be delivered at the grassroots, enabling people to experience healing and spiritual encouragement even though they are emotionally devastated by the memories.
WORK TEAMS TO HAITI
- 2010: Two slots have just opened, for Sept 14-24 and Oct 16-26. Teams are needed urgently to work on the school building being purchased at Morne a Bateau.
- 2011: Slots remain available for work teams from April onward.
To learn how you or your church can lead or participate in a work team for reconstruction in Haiti, contact Grant Sigsworth, Coordinator, Help Haiti Heal (Canada) via e-mail: [email protected] or telephone: 905-666-0029.
PRAYER FOR HAITI
The recovery and reconstruction of the nation of Haiti will be a long haul. It remains as critical as ever that the Free Methodist Church in Canada remains active in FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE, MISSION TEAMS, and PRAYER for our hurting brothers and sisters and for those who are in frontline ministry in the affected area.
- The leaders of our Relief & Recovery Program in Haiti (Jean Marc Zamor, Rick Ireland, and the FM Superintendents) for wisdom in setting priorities and strength in delivery of assistance to a broad range of needs
- Leaders of our Child Sponsorship Program in Haiti (Mondale Perkins), in Canada (Paula Moriarity) and in the US (Linda Adams).
- The FM Churches in Haiti under General Superintendent Clovis Momplaisir, that they minister effectively to their communities’ needs and that the love of Christ is seen through them.
- Haitian pastors and their families, as they struggle with their personal needs while ministering to the material, emotional and spiritual needs of their congregations.
- For Free Methodists and other evangelicals in Haiti that they sense the Lord’s comfort in their losses and remain faithful in Christ and in their witness.
- For safety and health of work-teams from North America (including one led by Verona, ON departing late Sept) as they go to Haiti to help in the repair and reconstruction of churches and schools.
- For wisdom in funding decisions about appropriate shelter for the homeless – both temporary and permanent.
WHAT OF THE BIG PICTURE FOR HAITI, NOW SIX MONTHS LATER?
Regrettably conditions in the quake-affected area of Haiti remain grim overall. Activities for recovery and longer term reconstruction are flagging. Rubble and collapsed buildings are slowly being removed, but still dominate the landscape of the affected area of Port au Prince and southern Haiti. Some 250,000 of the homeless reportedly have fled to find shelter with family in other regions.
A recent U.S. Senate report says plans are only in “early draft form” for moving persons who were displaced from homes back into permanent housing. Currently the homeless remain condemned to more than 500 tent-and-tarp settlements and other make-shift huts of sheets, tin and cardboard where families lack privacy and security. Tropical rains lash the capital city daily, the country is at risk from hurricanes over the coming four months, and water-borne typhoid and cholera remain a threat. The streets are alive with traffic and vendors, but many people feel abandoned.
The Senate report states Haiti has made little progress in broad-based rebuilding by the Government — for reasons that won’t be solved soon: disorganization and disagreement among international donors over strategy, approach and priorities; and delays about approval and release of funds – only 2% of the billions earlier pledged. Construction also is being held up by property title disputes, customs delays for imports, indecision about quake-resistant building designs, the sad destruction of government records and the loss of 17% of civil servants, and the sheer logistics of mounting a massive construction of new and better infrastructure in the Western Hemisphere’s least developed country.
PRAY for wisdom and a spirit of cooperation among leaders of governments and major donor agencies, in this undertaking of reconstruction.