Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Haiti workcamp continues rebuilding; funding needed for 'Brethren phase.'

A second disaster relief workcamp visited Haiti on Oct. 24-Nov. 1, part of a joint effort of Brethren Disaster Ministries and the Church of the Brethren Haiti Mission to rebuild homes following four hurricanes and tropical storms that hit Haiti last year.

Participants included Haile Bedada, Fausto Carrasco, Ramphy Carrasco, Cliff Kindy, Mary Mason, Earl Mull, Gary Novak, Sally Rich, Jan Small, and David Young. Leadership included Jeff Boshart, Haiti Disaster Response coordinator; Ludovic St. Fleur, Haiti mission coordinator and pastor of Eglise des Freres Haitiens in Miami, Fla.; Roy Winter, executive director of Brethren Disaster Ministries; and Klebert Exceus, a consultant for the work in Haiti. The group was joined for much of its trip by leaders from the Church of the Brethren in Haiti.

A highlight was the opportunity to attend the dedication and opening worship service of a new church building in Fond Cheval. The church has been built by the local community as a gesture of gratitude to the Brethren for rebuilding homes in the area. Many people gathered for the dedication, including Brethren from congregations in Port au Prince, the newly formed Haiti Church of the Brethren Leadership Team, and members of Exceus's church. "It was standing room only," Winter said. A special donation to the church's Global Mission Partnerships program helped cover church construction expenses that local Haitians did not donate.

"From there we hiked into the mountains and visited the work in the Mont Boulage area. We saw good work there," Winter said. However, the workcamp spent the bulk of its time--most of a week--rebuilding homes in the city of Gonaives. The group accomplished work on latrines for 18 families, painted 20 houses, and wired 20 houses for electricity.

It was "hot work" Winter said, the heat forcing some participants to stop work by noon. Some workcampers also spent time with the children who would gather at the construction sites. "Many children helped or tried to help with the painting," Winter said. "During breaks workcampers would spend time offering love and comfort. Sometimes they would spell names and talk about the alphabet...just being present with the children."

Boshart reported that "the Haitian supervisor in charge of the project was very satisfied and pleased with the work of the workcampers. During a short worship service on Mont Boulage, where Brethren Disaster Ministries has already completed the rebuilding of 21 homes, mission coordinator Pastor Ludovic St. Fleur recalled a Haitian proverb which says, 'If someone sweats for you, you change a shirt for him.' I believe our workcampers felt this hospitality as we were well cared for by the local church members wherever we went."

The group closed its trip to Haiti with a visit to a Brethren congregation in Cap-Haitien. "For some workcampers, visiting the churches was the most important to them," Winter said. He noted that the Church of the Brethren in Haiti has many preaching points that even St. Fleur has not had a chance to visit. "I am somewhat in awe of the church plant there, how much has been accomplished, and how it's growing," Winter said.

A principle function of the rebuilding project is to support the church in Haiti, to "help create synergy for them," he added. "I believe many of the workcampers were surprised by the difficulty of the situation, especially in Gonaives--water on and off, electricity off part of most nights, no fan, unusual food for some. The hardship became in time a way of being in solidarity with the Haitians, many living in even more difficult situations."

Brethren Disaster Ministries has now completed 72 homes in Haiti, toward a goal of 100. "We need to do 28 more houses," said Boshart, "By my count, at $4,000 per house and $500 per latrine, we're talking $126,000 to do all 28."

"It is significant to mention that we've tried very hard not to show favoritism towards Brethren families who were victims of the hurricanes," Boshart added. "In Gonaives, of the first 30 homes, none of them were Brethren. We now wish to make the next phase our 'Brethren phase,' which would mean building six homes for those Brethren families. This 'Brethren phase' would be $27,000."

"We still need to raise significant funds to accomplish the goal," Winter confirmed. He also hopes that the undesignated reserve funds already expended on the project through grants from the Emergency Disaster Fund can be replenished, anticipating increased giving as the project comes close to reaching its goal. "We have expensed $370,000 from the Emergency Disaster Fund for the work so far. So far we have only received $72,500 (as of the end of September) in donations designated for Haiti--the rest came from undesignated gifts."

From now on, Brethren Disaster Ministries will not be using any more undesignated reserve funds in Haiti, Winter announced. "At this point we will build as we receive designated gifts," he said.

A third Haiti workcamp is planned for January 2010. To express interest, contact or 800-451-4407 ext. 8.

For more about the Emergency Disaster Fund or to donate to the Haiti project online go to

For a photo album from the workcamp held in Haiti in October, go to

Source: 11/18/2009 Newsline

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