A comprehensive Brethren response to the hurricanes that swept over Haiti last fall is underway. Through a grant of $100,000 from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF), Brethren Disaster Ministries is developing new initiatives that promise to help relieve suffering and improve the lives of many Haitians.
"Prior to the storms, Haiti already was the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. Since the hurricanes, 10 percent of the population in the impacted area has been forced to beg for a living," said Brethren Disaster Ministries coordinator Jane Yount in a report.
Aspects of the multi-faceted response include:
- Micro-loans in the amount of $200 for purchasing livestock or starting a small business. Disbursement of funds is targeted to begin in the next month.
- Home repair and rebuilding beginning in the Mirebalais area north of Port au Prince. Materials will be purchased starting in mid-February. Twenty homes have been selected for repair in the village of Fon Cheval, in a model plan that will serve as a guide for projects in other villages. Brethren Disaster Ministries hopes to create opportunities for volunteer groups from the US to take part.
- School-based feeding programs in the Gonaives area. The process of sending meals to schools is underway. Klebert Exceus, a Haitian consultant, is working with Brethren Disaster Ministries on this effort. He has shared that "Christians in these areas are praying that God will bless and support these projects."
- Medical material aid following assessments of a Haitian hospital and clinic. A shipment of medical supplies from IMA World Health is anticipated in late winter.
- Capacity building and leadership support, with $3,000 being provided to two Haitian Brethren church leaders who are assisting with the response.
- Canned meat provided by Mid-Atlantic District and Southern Pennsylvania District. The canning project will be completed in April.
"Part of what we are doing in Haiti is to try and respond in a different way," Winter said. "Many organizations around the world have tried lots of approaches to help Haiti develop only to have progress nullified in a matter of years. So we are trying very hard to facilitate local leadership and encourage local churches working together."
Gonaíves is the most heavily devastated area in Haiti, with many of the damaged or destroyed homes in flood plains or mudslide areas, Winter reported. There is an active Brethren preaching point in the area. "We are partnering with and bringing local Brethren into a pastors group called Service Et De Liaison Des Eglises Evangeliques Gonaiviennes," Winter said. "The result is that in the short run working this way may slow some of the disaster response, but in the long run we are building capacity for Haitians to respond to their own needs."
To support the Haiti Hurricane Response, donations may be sent to the Emergency Disaster Fund, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120.
Source: 02/11/2009 Newsline