Destruction in Haiti: What You Can Do to Help

  

Haiti suffered a 7.3 magnitude earthquake the afternoon of 1/12. Our friends at El Shaddai Ministries are struggling to communicate and find out the status of the hundreds of orphans in their care. Pastor Louis St. Germain, leader of El Shaddai Ministries who lives in the southern city of Les Cayes, had this update today: 

“Access to Les Cayes by road is impossible. A big mountain collapsed. Only by motorbike.
We cannot communicate with Port au Prince, our relatives and friends are missing so far in those areas. We have no news from them. We have no news from our children’s home in Port au prince. In the south most the children and the sites are Okay. Pastor Chry’s house at Chantal was hit. A wall collapsed.
In Les Cayes we wake up in a different city this morning. Until now we still have some aftershocks. Everyone left their home. The people is in the street. There is panic every were. People are afraid.
If Port au Prince, which represents the heart of Haiti is 85%of the population is destroy, we cannot imagine the next few days how it’s going to be if we don’t get any help.
Thank you for your love and your support.”
Pastor Louis St. Germain
 
Here are resources if you can help our brothers and sisters in Haiti: 
  • Global Orphan Project (Christ-centered organization well-connected with local Haitian networks; currently trying to get 1-2 months extra supply of food to the many orphans close to the epicenter of the quake)
  • Food for the Hungry (Gospel-centered ministry with holistic philosophy of relief and development, currently with first responders coming from the Dominican Republic)
  • American Red Cross (You can text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to American Red Cross relief for Haiti)
  • Mission to North America (This is the Haitian church-planting arm of the PCA where you can donate directly to the Haitian locals of El Shaddai Ministries who know firsthand the needs of their own people)
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One Cause in Haiti 2009

My friends Ben and Renee Welstead are ridiculously talented photographers. Here are some sights and sounds from Ben’s recent trip to Haiti, a place that he and Renee hold very close to their hearts. Beautiful images of beautiful people.

To Haiti and Back

This past weekend I returned from spending a week in Haiti, participating in a medical missions trip with my church family from Grace Chapel. We had an amazing week that will forever change my life and I want to share some of my experiences with my friends and family who have been so supportive during this experience.

I just spent about 30 minutes trying to write a note that expressed the little that I know about the history of Haiti, the political problems, the economic problems, the health problems. But that’s not what I really want to say. You can look up Haiti in Wikipedia if you want to know more, and I think that you should because what has happened in Haiti is important, including how the United States is largely responsible for the current situation there.

The fact is that people die young in Haiti. The average Haitian family lives on $1US per day. Children are starving and mothers are dying in childbirth. The government is corrupt, they have been devastated by multiple hurricanes, the northern part of the island has been stripped bare and crops will not grow. Clean water is scarce. There is a massive epidemic of HIV and AIDS with an estimate that 19,000 children may be infected. The superstitions, curses, and fear related to the practice of Voodoo have a chokehold on the island. Haiti is literally starving both physically and spiritually.

But the people of Haiti are beautiful and resilient. I was struck by the broad smiles and waves that we received as we drove through the crowded streets of the villages, lurched down the rough dirt roads, and passed by the humble, one-room, tin-roofed homes that dot the rural countryside. The men and women continue to rise early with the crowing of the roosters (which I can testify happens every morning at about 4 a.m.), load their donkeys, and go to market. The children continue to put on their colored uniforms and walk to school during the occasional and often sporadic times that their parents have money to pay for it. The people continue to gather for worship on Sunday, fall to their knees, and call out to God in the most desperate and passionate way that I have ever witnessed.

We traveled to 7 orphanages during our stay, and saw anywhere from 500 to 700 children. When some of these orphaned children were originally found they were living with animals and eating dirt to survive. We provided medical care to 5 of the 7 orphanages, treating intestinal worms, scabies, fungal infections, ringworm, colds, flu, ear infections, eye infections, and open sores. I hope that by holding the children’s hands, looking into their eyes, and asking them their names that we may have somehow treated fear, loneliness, and isolation. These children receive medical treatment maybe once every year or two and only when medical missions teams come through their villages.

I am still haunted by the feeling of driving away from these orphanages, knowing that it would soon grow dark, and the children would go to bed on their small thin mattresses, with only each other for company. I wonder if they remember their parents. I wonder if they will remember me like I remember them.

It was difficult to travel from the 3rd world to the 1st world in one day. To go from seeing grinding poverty on the streets of Port-au-Prince to seeing Brooks Brothers shirts on sale 3 for $399 at the Fort Lauderdale airport. To know that for the price of my monthly cable bill I could send 3 orphaned Haitian children to school for one month. Before I left on this trip friends who had gone before told me that I would be forever changed by Haiti and I was. I am. Thank God.

HOW YOU CAN HELP HAITI

Here is the most recent information I have about how you can help the crisis in Haiti. Thanks to readers for your concern and interest in contributing to the relief effort, and your care for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Option #1: Food and Water Supplies

Pastor Dony St. Germain of El Shaddai Ministries needs funds to provide food and water directly to the people of Gonaives who have been devastated by the hurricanes. The people have not eaten for several days. Food and water will be distributed to 145 community leaders who in turn will distribute supplies to the people. Please send checks to:

El Shaddai Ministries International (ESMI)
c/o Haiti-Hanna Disaster Relief (write this in the check memo line)
13651 S. Biscayne River Drive
Miami, FL 33161

You can also contact EMSI directly at (305) 891-8966

Option #2: Relief for Haitian Orphans in Gonaives

C3Missions is a partnership ministry with El Shaddai Ministries International (ESMi). C3’s work goes directly to feeding and caring for the 250 ESMI orphans in Gonaives. Checks can be mailed to:

C3 Missions International
c/o C3 Haiti Relief Fund (write this in the check memo line)
3000 NW 50th Street
Kansas City, MO 64150

You can also contact C3 Missions directly at (816) 820-5556

Update from Gonaives, Haiti

Thanks to Pastor Mike Hsu for updating his blog regularly regarding the situation in Haiti and thanks to everyone for your continued prayers. According to Reuters, 695 dead bodies have been recovered in Gonaives alone. Here is the latest from C3 Missions:

Here’s the situation: the kids in the south have endured much but seem to be safe.

Gonaives is a mess. BUT, the 250 orphans in our children’s village are ok. In fact, the water has receded in the village such that the grounds of the children once discarded in this country will become a staging ground for a large relief effort tomorrow (Saturday). Through the help of Ed Barber, one of C3’s key players in Atlanta, we secured 2 helicopters on Friday. Dony and Louis and 140 pastors they’ve trained have set the children’s village as a staging ground for (a) relief to our children in Gonaives – 400 of them; and (b) relief to the 300,000 in Gonaives suffering so miserably. It’s brutal. Right now, I think it’s fair to say that the most miserable place on earth for a human being to “live” is Gonaives, Haiti. We’ve secured a huge supply of food and water. Virtually the entire population of Gonaives have gone without food and water for over 2 days. We’ll start running about 2,000 lbs. of food and water every hour tomorrow. I figure we’ll be able to get in 14,000 lbs. plus before dark, God willing. That will shore up our kids and provide sustaining, life saving relief for thousands others. The biggest threat to this effort is that the people there are so desperate that they rioting is a real possibility. These people aren’t animals. They’re just hungry. They have children to feed. What in the heck would you do if you saw a shot at a meal in that situation? You get that point. It’s our understanding that the local police and U.N. will secure the perimeter of the children’s village to allow us to stage the relief effort. A top gov’t official will be working with us in this relief effort, and we’re hoping that seeing what a little weenie organization like C3 can do frustrated by inaction will motivate other “emergency responders” to get off their butts and get some food and water in there.

Time and circumstances permitting, we’ll fly to the south just to check on all of our kids there and take them a load of food. No guarantees. We’ll just have to see what happens.

Thanks to El Shaddai. Dony and Louis have mobilized an army for this relief effort. Their local leadership inspires. . . .

Please Pray! Safety for Haitian orphans in Hurricane Hanna

The following is the latest news received from C3 Missions (partners with El Shaddai Ministries in Haiti) regarding the status of Haiti during the bout with Hurricane Hanna going on right now. Please take a moment to pray for these vulnerable orphans as they try to stay safe amidst the storm. If any readers want more information on how to support either of these ministries please let me know!

First, give thanks.  All of our children in the south are safe.  We’ll have to assess damage, but the children are safe.

Second, boldly ask the Lord for help in Gonaive.  You won’t read it on the news, even now, but the greatest Hurricane problem in Haiti is from Hanna, not Gustav.

250 of our children are huddled on the top floor of the only 2 story structure in our Gonaive village.  By the grace of God, that happens to be where the food and kitchen is located.  The rest of the village is turning into a lake that’s rising.  And this is some of the “higher ground” in the Gonaive area.  Most of the city of Gonaive is under water 5 or 6 feet high and rising.  Water is pouring down in rivers from the mountains to the sea.  The sea is too full to drink another drop.  So, the water keeps rising as Gonainve joins the sea.

DouDou went to secure the children as best he could.  The road from Port au Prince to Gonaive passes through a long, low-lying stretch.  That stretch is now a giant lake, cutting-off Gonaive from the main route for help.  DouDou had to swim across this lake.

This mess snuck-up on the people of Gonaive – again.  Gonaive isn’t getting slammed with the hurricane.  Rivers from rains elsewhere – a problem nobody saw coming – just started pouring out from the mountains like someone turned on a faucet.  Even at this minute, if you look to international reports on the news and internet, you’ll see next to nothing about this problem.  The news reports and hurricane updates for Haiti still focus on Gustav.  Hanna is a blip on the radar screen.  That blip is drowning a city, and has 250 of our children looking down from their perch praying that the rising water will miraculously stop.

This e-mail is not hype.  It’s not drama.  We know these children.  Dan Tasset and I spent the day with them 3 weeks ago.  Our village in Gonaive started with a local church sending a busload of orphaned pre-teen girls – about 15 of them.  Dony wasn’t expecting the village to start with older children.  He told the church leader that he could not take them.  Those girls heard the news and scratched and wailed as they boarded the bus back to nowhere.  Dony couldn’t take that pain.  He relented and took the girls and started the village with a group he never anticipated.  Those girls now help take care of the little children – they’re vital to the village.  Dan and I watched 3 weeks ago while 1 of those “unintended” girls set tables for the wave of more than 100 little girls coming to take their turn for dinner.  She led those children two-by-two, hand-in-hand to their tables.  She led them in song and prayer giving thanks to the Lord for about 10 minutes, standing over their food full of contentment and gratitude to eat what was pre-prayer a warm meal.  She was the first to the dining room, and the last to sit down to eat.  The smile never left her face.

She and 249 other children are in that same dining room now watching the water raise, praying that it will stop, but knowing that their hope does not come from receding waters or the fragile life Gonaive has to offer.  Their hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Here is what I’d like us all to do:
1)  Pray that Hanna will pass and the water will stop short of the second floor.

2)  Pray that others in Gonaive find higher ground.

3)  Pray that Hurricane Ike, next in line, steers clear of Haiti.

4)  Pray that the damage to our Gonaive village isn’t too great, and that we will have the blessing of repairing and doing whatever is necessary to make sure we can tuck every one of these 250 little ones into new beds, unharmed.