What Every Parent Wants

Every parent knows what it’s like to care for a sick child—the uncertainty, the frustration, even the fear.

For me, what always gets me is the moment I realize I can’t comfort my son. Or when he complains about something that I can’t possibly solve on my own. It’s heartbreaking because I want to be his protector, his hero, and make everything right again.

Most parents would gladly trade places with a sick child. And this is Alexi’s lament right now.

“When my son gets sick, it’s like I am sick too,” he says as his little boy sits quietly on his knee.

John is Alexi’s youngest (and sickest) son. All his children have been sick at one time or another, and all with the same symptoms—severe diarrhea, constant nausea, horrible stomach pain. This father is very familiar with effects of intestinal worms, some of which come and go, but John’s problems are persistent. And the worms are refusing to move.

“He’s really suffering right now,” Alexi tells me. “If it’s not the pain in his tummy, it’s the fevers. It’s one or the other and I don’t know what to do.”

This father of six lives in Haiti, high up in the hills and far removed from anything we would describe as livable. There is no medical clinic in this village, not even running water. There are no faucets. No flushing toilets. No place to bathe.

This is why John is so sick. The dirty water and unsanitary conditions are the perfect breeding ground for parasites. These nasty worms are now multiplying in John’s belly, and sapping all the nutrients from his tiny body. The cure for this horrible condition?

A miracle pill that costs just 44 cents. 

But Alexi can’t afford it, and that was the reason I was visiting him. Thanks to the generosity of donors, World Concern is distributing these life-changing tablets to hundreds of sick Haitian kids.

The 44-Cent-Cure is the most cost-effective solution to poverty’s biggest problem, because within days of taking the pill, the worms are dead, John is cured, nutrients are being absorbed back into his body and he’s able to return to school and enjoy life as a happy, healthy child.

Alexi is a farmer, or at least was until Hurricane Matthew destroyed his crops.

Now, Alexi survives day-to-day, working odd jobs to scrape together enough money for the occasional meal and to send his kids to school. He’s planted some corn and some grain, but the plants are not even close to harvest yet.

So this single father does what he can and puts on a brave face. Yet he admits even this is getting harder and harder to do. Especially since John has been so sick.

“I am responsible for him and have no time to cry,” he whispers, not wanting his son to hear how difficult things are. “I must work.”

In just a few days, the pill that we gave John will have killed all the worms in his belly. His fevers will be gone. The nausea and diarrhea will be gone. And Alexi can return to work.

All because of a pill that costs less than 2 quarters.

Alexi and I have something in common. We are both dads and dearly love our kids. We love Jesus. We both  work. And we both want our families to be healthy.

After praying together, Alexi and I shook hands. And that’s when his story really hit home for me. Our hands could not have been more different.  His are strong; his palms calloused and his fingers tough and weathered. Mine are the exact opposite. We have lived vastly different lives.

The biggest difference though? I am in a position to help.

I had the opportunity to pray with Alexi last month. Will you join us in praying for the families in Haiti who need your help?

Please Don’t Forget About Haiti

“We are in a desperate situation,” Pierre pleads.

“The population here is really in need. But I cannot send you any pictures due to communication issues. This is all I can send …”

The view of Hurricane Matthew from the International Space Station was like something out of a horror movie. For a brief moment we saw a swirling mass, its eye menacingly clear, devouring the land underneath.

Torrential rains and gale force winds tore through Haiti's weak, and flimsy infrastructure.
Torrential rains and gale force winds tore through Haiti’s weak, and flimsy infrastructure.
Some of the first images of Hurricane Haiti show the devastation on the ground.
Some of the first images of Hurricane Haiti show the devastation on the ground.

The above images were taken less than a day after the aerial shots from the space station and while they are some of the first images to come from Haiti, they clearly show what happened under that gruesome storm cloud.

That’s where Pierre is.

Haiti is once again under attack. Six years after a massive earthquake tore apart the flimsy infrastructure and killed more than a quarter million people, Haiti is back on her knees.

Friends, we must not forget Haiti … our neighbors … our friends … people like Pierre.

The true devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew is still unknown. And that’s a frightening thought. Because when a disaster strikes within our own shores we have the capability, and the resources needed to respond. We spend money. We rally together. We pray. We stay strong.

But when a disaster like Matthew hits a country as impoverished as Haiti, everything is wiped out—communication, electricity, utilities—it’s near impossible to send for help.

“Almost everything has been destroyed by the strong winds,” Pierre says. “All the trees have fallen. The winds tore off all our roofs.”

That’s why we must respond, and respond quickly and generously. Not because we’re asked, but because it’s the right thing to do.

Moms and dads frantically scoop up their children and search for shelter during the storm.
Moms and dads frantically scoop up their children and search for shelter during the storm.

Because as humans, we have a responsibility to help our brothers and sisters in need. Alexis is one of the few people that we’ve been able to speak with. She was sharing an evening meal with her family when her roof lifted off and disappeared into the stormy sky. Scooping up her daughter Alexis ran to the nearest shelter, a church, and waited for the hurricane to stop.

“I was very afraid to go outside because the wind was so strong. I saw a lot of damage on the road. I saw metal sheets from houses carried by the wind.” Alexis whispers.

There is not a lot a media coverage about Haiti.

The death toll stands at 842 but will almost certainly climb.

The number of homes, buildings, businesses, and farms lost is unknown.

There are only a few photos that show the devastation.

But that’s not because the damage isn’t there—

We must not forget our brothers and sisters in Haiti.
We must not forget our brothers and sisters in Haiti.

The reality is that there are people in need. There are families mourning the loss of loved ones. And countless people are scared, and in desperate need.

So as Hurricane Matthew gathers strength and barrels its way towards more developed regions, we have but a short window to focus our attention on Haiti. On people like Pierre. And Alexis.

These people are there. They just can’t ask for help …

So please don’t forget about Haiti.

Investing in Disaster Risk Reduction Saves Lives

My dad used to always say, “It’s better to build a guardrail on a curve than a hospital at the bottom of the hill.” As an adult, I’ve come to understand that wisdom of his words. We all want to rescue someone after they’re hurt. But isn’t it better to protect them from harm in the first place?

Today, as the president of World Concern, I have an opportunity to put my dad’s wisdom into practice. Our focus is on disaster risk reduction: equipping vulnerable communities for a disaster before it happens, and taking practical steps to minimize its destructive impact.

We work to provide infrastructure within and around a community to protect its residents from disaster. This is far better than repeatedly helping them rebuild… and grieving with families who have lost loved ones in a devastating earthquake or hurricane.

Mercila no longer fears disaster in her village along Haiti's northern coast. She is helping her community prepare for future disasters.
Mercila no longer fears disaster in her village along Haiti’s northern coast. She is helping her community prepare for future disasters.

Mercila’s story is a great example of how communities can protect themselves.

“When there is flooding, the houses fill with water and people lose many things. When there is a hurricane… houses are destroyed,” said Mercila, a young mom who lives in Haiti. Hurricane season comes every year, and her village’s precarious location along Haiti’s northern coast leaves the entire community vulnerable to frequent natural disasters.

Her one-year-old son’s safety weighs heavily on her mind. “My dream for my son is to let him grow up in Anse-á-Foleur where disaster will not impact our town again.”

Mercila's village of Anse-a-Foleur has a new storm shelter where families can go to stay safe when the next hurricane comes.
Mercila’s village has a new storm shelter where families can stay safe during a hurricane.

World Concern is taking action to keep everyone in Anse-á-Foleur safe. We’ve trained Mercila as an emergency responder for her village. Now, she is teaching her entire community, passing along all the disaster preparedness training she’s received.

The community was equipped to establish an early warning system to alert villagers of coming danger, and built rock walls along the river to prevent flooding. They also constructed a storm shelter, so families will have a safe place to go when a hurricane is near.

“Because of the activities of World Concern, Anse-á-Foleur has become a new town,” Mercila proclaimed. “We are not afraid about anything.”

Mercila no longer fears disaster,

but many others in vulnerable communities are living in the path of destruction. Families in Bangladesh, for example, know that the month of May brings another cyclone season… and certain destruction. Together, we can help them prepare and survive.

Kanomrani's family lives in a coastal village in Bangladesh that is in the direct path of cyclones. You can help protect a family like hers from the storms ahead.
Kanomrani’s family lives in a coastal village in Bangladesh that is in the direct path of cyclones. You can help protect a family like hers from the storms ahead.

World Concern will always be there for those who are suffering after disaster. But it’s a wise and critical investment to protect vulnerable moms, dads, and little ones from future disasters.

You can help protect them. Give online at www.worldconcern.org/savelives  

 

The Community That Rebuilt Itself

Driving east out of Jacmel in south east Haiti, the paved road hugs the coast offering stunning views of the blue water beyond.  The view inland is equally impressive as rugged, green covered mountains look down on you.

This region is one of my favorites in Haiti and it was nice to be back.  On this particular day we were heading to the village of Figue to see firsthand how this community took the lead in a recent project.

Figue is located high up in these formidable mountains and several kilometers from the paved road along the coast.  To get there we followed a gravel road that steadily narrowed as we climbed.  The journey alone to some of the rural areas World Concern works is an adventure in itself.

Eventually the gravel disappeared and the road’s surface became rocky and soggy from the rain that falls each afternoon this time of year.

Robert, keeping everyone laughing.
Robert, keeping everyone laughing.

At one point Robert, our driver on the trip, stopped the truck and got out to lock the differentials and turn on the four wheel drive.

“Okay now we are ready,” he said.

Looking ahead I could see what he was referring to.  There was a particularly steep section that was incredibly narrow (can the truck even fit through that?) and the road dramatically dropped off on the passenger side (which is where I was sitting).

With my heart pounding in my chest, Robert expertly navigated the difficult section, as he has many times before, and then laughed out loud as a way to lighten the situation and celebrate his small victory.  At this point all of us couldn’t help but laugh too.

We continued on and soon reached the village of Figue which is surrounded by dense vegetation and rugged terrain.  There are 125 families in Figue with “five people per family minimum” as one man said.

In 2012 Figue suffered tremendously due to a harsh hurricane season.  In addition to crop loss, the village’s only church was completely destroyed.

Pastor Bonnet shares about his church
Pastor Bonnet shares about his church

“The wind was so strong during Hurricane Sandy,” explained Pastor Samuel Bonnet.  “The church was flattened.”

Pastor Bonnet has pastored the church in Figue for 32 years and his father pastored before him.  Although no one knew exactly when the church began, it’s obvious it has been serving Figue for some time and World Concern wanted to see that legacy continue.

While World Concern provided the materials and some technical support, it was the community of Figue who rebuilt their church.

“We built it!”  They chimed in unison when asked about their church.  It was clear that the community possessed a high level of ownership which is a beautiful thing to witness.

The new church building is an eye-catcher.  Not because it is flashy; in fact it is quite simple.  However it is the obvious strength of the structure that grabs your attention.  The old church was made of rock and dirt.  The new church is built with cement, ensuring it will serve its’ 200+ members well for years to come.

Inside the newly built (and well painted) church.
Inside the newly built (and well painted) church.

In addition to a new church, Figue now has access to consistent potable water thanks to the construction of a new water system.  Similar to the construction of the church, World Concern provided materials and technical support but the system was entirely built and managed by the community.

The primary water source is a spring a steep 10 minute walk from the main road passing through Figue.  Once the source was capped, piping was installed to carry the water down the hill to a reservoir.  This reservoir holds the water and once it reaches capacity, the water is piped further down the hill to a fountain on the main road.

64-year-old Amedene Tibo, a widow and mother of seven, has lived in Figue her entire life.  “Although the source was only a 10 minute walk from the road the path was bad and if you are carrying water you will fall,” she said.

Mrs. Tibo posing at the water system's reservoir.
Mrs. Tibo posing at the water system’s reservoir.

She is not joking.  After scrambling to reach the reservoir a few of us continued further up the hill to the actual source.  Even for a young person such as me, it was no easy trek.  The path itself is not clear and I was constantly slipping on the wet rocks that littered the ground (even though I was wearing low top hiking shoes with good traction).

Thankfully that difficult walk is not needed anymore.

As I sat listening to different people share about the water system and what a blessing it is I thought to myself, “What if it breaks?”  All too often systems such as this one end up rusting away as soon as something breaks if there is not a pre-determined plan established beforehand.

When there was a break in the chatter I asked that very question.

This fountain provides access to water to those in Figue and other nearby communities.
This fountain provides access to water to those in Figue and other nearby communities.

“If there is a problem with the system each family has agreed to give a little money so we can repair it,” explained Frednel Rimny, president of the local water management committee.

It was encouraging to hear that the committee understood the importance of creating a plan and had put one in place.

The progress in Figue and the community’s hard work should be celebrated.  A safe place to worship for the village’s church goers and a new water system are wonderful contributions that will certainly bless the people of Figue for quite some time.

This doesn’t mean Figue and other rural communities don’t face more challenges.  Poverty is complex and multi-dimensional.  This theme came up often in our discussions with our travel companions.  We’re learning that not everything can be “fixed” or perfected; and that’s okay.  Instead it’s about walking with people and helping them move forward one step at a time.  This is a slow process but one that World Concern is committed to living out.

 

Saved to Serve People

Jean Berlin knows that his life was spared during the Haiti earthquake in 2010 for a reason. And that reason is to serve others. In honor of World Humanitarian Day, we wanted to share his amazing story of a life dedicated to serving people.

A math and physics teacher, Jean Berlin was teaching in a 5th floor university classroom in Port-au-Prince on January 12, 2010. Just before the earthquake hit, he got what he describes as “a bad feeling inside.”

“I felt something would happen,” he recalled.

He left the building, excusing himself from his students and explaining that he wasn’t feeling well.

Haiti earthquake - collapsed building
A building in Port-au-Prince that collapsed during the January 2010 earthquake.

Moments later, when the shaking started, Berlin was confused. He’d never experienced an earthquake before. He closed his eyes, and when he opened them, the school was gone. The building had collapsed and everyone inside was dead.

“I said, ‘Oh my God what happened?’” Berlin ran home to check on his two sisters. Thankfully, both had survived the earthquake.

He’ll never forget that day when his city went dark. “It was a very, very bad time in Haiti,” he said. “After I wondered, ‘God why didn’t you give me the chance to ask my friends to come out too?’”

Berlin still has no answer as to why so many died that day, but he survived. All he knows is that he is here for a reason.

“Jesus saved me to serve people,” he says with confidence.

Although Berlin loved teaching, he now dedicates his life to helping protect vulnerable families and communities in Haiti from future disasters, like hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes.  As a project manager for World Concern’s Disaster Risk Reduction program in Port-de-Paix, Berlin teaches people safe building practices, disaster preparedness, and how to keep their families safe in a disaster. He says he never wants to see such massive, preventable loss of life again.

Jean Berlin
Jean Berlin survived the Haiti earthquake. He believes it was so that he could serve others as a humanitarian and help prevent future disasters.

“If something happens in Port-de-Paix one day, now we won’t have as many victims,” he explains. “This is one way I can serve people.”

Berlin’s humanitarian service is his life mission, and the mission of World Concern.

“I can say that it is very, very important to serve people because, as Christians, we have to do what Jesus has done. Because Jesus himself, he served people too. As a Christian organization, it is our very special mission to serve people.”

We at World Concern humbly salute Jean Berlin as a dedicated humanitarian who is fulfilling his calling by serving others and protecting human life.

Listen to Jean Berlin say, in his own words, why he believes his life was spared so that he could help protect others.

[vimeo 58994100]

 

Clean water that will last – even through storms

Girls filling buckets of water.
Young girls collect water from a public source in Grand Gosier, Haiti. Those who don’t live nearby will have to carry these buckets of water home.

World Concern makes providing clean water to communities that lack this life-saving resource a top priority. Recently, we visited the Southeast Department of Haiti and saw the direct link between disasters and the need for clean water.

We joined Bunet, World Concern’s Disaster Risk Reduction Coordinator, on this trip to Grand Gosier to see how we are providing clean water and preparing communities for future disasters.

Grand Gosier is a rather isolated commune (cluster of communities), near the sea and the Dominican Republic border. One reason it is so isolated is because of the poor condition of the road that leads to it. From Jacmel, the big city in Southeast Haiti, you must travel approximately 84 kilometers east to reach Grand Gosier.

Those 84 kilometers took us over four hours.

While crawling at a snail’s pace can be exhausting, the views are stunning. This is one contrast I noticed on the trip–poor infrastructure yet stunning natural beauty.

Once we arrived in Grand Gosier, we caught up with Pierre, the coordinator for the project in this commune.  He explained that the water system for the area had been damaged by a storm in 2007.  Since then, those not fortunate to live close to the water source have been forced to spend a lot of time and energy walking to reach water.  Even while we were visiting with Pierre, children and women walked past us carrying water.  All kinds of jugs, bottles, and containers are used to transport water.

Replacing old PVC pipe.
Women and girls carry water on their heads while workers replace the old PVC pipe to the community’s water source.

Occasionally we saw someone guiding a donkey, loaded down with water, but the majority of people were walking.  It was early afternoon, and limited cloud cover meant it was a hot and dusty journey for them.

Soon, those long journeys will not be necessary.  Once finished, the project will provide nine water collection points throughout the commune which will shorten the walk to water for many.

As we were listening to Pierre speak about the project, I wondered what precautions were being taken to ensure that this time the water system will be more resilient to withstand the next storm.  Hurricanes and heavy storms are all too common in Southeast Haiti.  Hurricanes Isaac and Sandy in 2012 are the most recent reminders of the devastation such storms can cause.  Combined, these two storms killed 87 and affected 205,623 people.  We cannot stop the rains and winds from coming, however we can be sure that communities are prepared as best as possible.

New metal pipe.
The new metal pipe, which you can see here, will ensure clean, safe water reaches families in this community, even when storms come.

Pierre explained that the prior water system had used PVC for the piping, but his team is working to replace all the PVC with metal pipes.  Though a seemingly small step, using metal will be a huge step towards increasing the system’s – and the community’s – resiliency.

When the repairs and construction are completed, this water system will provide clean water to people, whatever storms come their way.

You can help protect families and their resources from future disasters. Donate today.

Helping families recover after Hurricane Sandy

When Hurricane Sandy hit the island nation of Haiti on Oct. 24, it took the lives of more than 50 people, destroyed more than 6,000 homes, and damaged another 21,000 homes. According to the U.N., nearly 2 million Haitians were affected by the storm, which made landfall on the island nation as a category 1 hurricane before spiraling through the Atlantic and slamming into the East Coast of the U.S. on Oct. 29.

Mr. Maxi and family members outside their one-room shelter.
Mr. Maxi (center) stands with several family members outside the one-room shelter they pieced together with debris from their destroyed home. This family, and others, will soon have a new home.

As families braced for the hurricane in Southern Haiti, a struggling farmer named Mr. Maxi did all he could to protect his home in the rural village of Marc-Cavaillon. He feared for the safety of his wife and two sons as fierce winds and torrential rains battered their home. Their lives were spared, he believes, by God and a few trees on their property as their home collapsed during the storm.

“We were so sad to see all that we possessed disappear in a brief moment,” he said.

The family gathered up the scraps of metal and wood from their home and pieced together the one-room shelter you see in this photo, which is where they’re living, “while waiting for God’s help,” Mr. Maxi said. The family is supported by his crops, but his income is barely enough to survive. His two children are not able to attend school, and can only write their names, he said.

Help has arrived for this family and others in Marc-Cavaillon and surrounding villages. The Maxi family will soon have a new home. Because of the remote location of this village, families here say they never receive any government assistance, even after major catastrophes like Hurricane Sandy. Residents said they consider World Concern’s help a “response from heaven.”

We are working to repair or rebuild more homes damaged by the storm in this area. We’re also giving families small cash grants to buy food, restart businesses, and get back on their feet earning income again.

Helping U.S. families recover

In the U.S., we’re working through partners who were on the ground on the East Coast within days of the storm, assessing needs, providing spiritual support, and organizing opportunities for cleanup teams. One partner your donations are helping support immediately dispatched rapid response clean up teams to communities in Northern New Jersey, such as the town of Little Ferry, which was heavily damaged by the storm surge.

As we maintain these relationships with our partners and assist with long-term recovery, we will continue to walk alongside families on the East Coast and in Haiti who lost so much. With a disaster of this magnitude, it will take time before life returns to “normal.”

Let’s focus concern on Haiti, where Isaac threatens vulnerable families

My mouth dropped open when I read the words of ABC News reporter Amy Bingham in an article about the potential effect Tropical Storm Isaac could have on the city of Tampa as the Republican National Convention kicks off there on Monday. Most of the commenters on news stories like this made fun of the fact a storm was bearing down on a group of Republicans.

A family in the southern mountains of Haiti
Nadѐge Moise and her family live in a rural village in the mountains of Southern Haiti, an area that has been severely damaged by hurricanes. Tropical Storm Isaac is expected to bring 12-20 inches of rain to this area this weekend.

But my shock was over the complete lack of regard for the people of Haiti who are in real danger.

“Under the best case scenario, the storm could smash into the mountains of Haiti … then the weakened storm could sweep over the Bahamas and swirl off the east coast of Florida … missing Tampa…” wrote Bingham.

Seriously? A storm smashing into the mountains of the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere is the “best case scenario”?

I was just in those mountains of Southern Haiti in June. There are families and communities in those mountains who are extremely vulnerable to storms like this. They all talked of the terrible flooding that overtook their homes and villages in 2008 when four hurricanes hit Haiti. They are terrified of disasters, and because of their remote rural location in these mountains, most of them probably don’t even know another storm is coming their way.

I was glad today to see NBC News and a few others focusing on the danger to Haiti. If Isaac continues on its current path and strengthens into a hurricane, it will likely cause much damage to the homes and lives of the millions of people who live in Haiti.

World Concern is preparing staff members in Haiti and gathering emergency supplies to respond.

Kids near a canal in Southern Haiti.
Children in Côtes-de-Fer, a village near Bainet, along the southern coast of Haiti, stand near a canal built by World Concern in 2010. The canal is part of a disaster risk reduction project and is designed to direct rainwater away from homes and into the ocean.

We’ve also been working to reduce the risk to communities in this region, like Côtes-de-Fer, a village near Bainet, along the southern coast of Haiti. We worked with community members to build a canal in 2010 that is designed to direct large amounts of rainwater away from homes and into the ocean.

“The water used to flood my house,” said Dieudonné Felix, who lives in Côtes-de-Fer. “The last time it rained, the rainwater went straight to the sea. This is a big improvement.”

But even communities with canals are at risk because Isaac is expected to dump more than 12 inches of rain—possibly up to 20 inches—on Haiti today and tomorrow.

Please join me in praying for the people of Haiti, World Concern staff and others who work in this area, and all who will be affected by this storm.

Learn more about our disaster response work, and partner with us to bring immediate help to families in need.

Preparing for Tomas to hit Haiti

The resounding question in everyone’s mind today is, how much more can Haiti take? With more than one million people still homeless after January’s quake, and a recent outbreak of deadly cholera that has now claimed the lives of more than 400 people, a tropical storm that could dump 10-15 inches of rain is the last thing Haiti needs.

tents in haiti
More than a million people are still living in tent camps in Haiti, many of which are at risk for severe flooding.

World Concern Haiti staff are preparing for the worst. During the storm, which is expected to move through the area early Friday, staff members have been instructed to take shelter, making sure their cell phones are charged, and to have a fresh supply of water, food and batteries on hand. In the hours leading up to the storm, they’ve been assembling emergency kits and tallying shelter materials for families in the areas we serve. Tarps and tents won’t provide much protection during the storm, but they will be needed immediately afterwards to replace damaged shelters. Tarps are among the items included in the emergency kits.

Getting emergency supplies to people will no doubt be a challenge, and coordinating this is a major effort. The practice of cutting trees in Haiti for firewood and charcoal has left the land vulnerable to mudslides. Heavy rain could wash out roads and make reaching people in need difficult.

Many of the areas where people are currently living in camps are low-lying and previously uninhabitable because of the flood risk. Flooding could also worsen the spread of water-borne disease, including cholera.

Some people take comfort in the fact the storm currently appears to be slowing and not strengthening much. However, forecasters note the danger of increased amounts of rainfall with a slower storm that lingers over Haiti.

We’ll keep you posted on our response in Haiti as we’re able to communicate with our staff there. Until then, we appreciate your prayers.

Click here to donate to help Haiti.

For more information, visit www.worldconcern.org

Rebuilding Haiti as Hurricane Season Looms

Neighbors in Haiti work for World Concern clearing rubble.
Neighbors in Haiti work for World Concern clearing rubble.

We all have places we’d rather avoid – things we’d rather not look at: the attic filled with rubbish that needs to be purged, that far corner of the yard that’s overgrown with weeds, or the part of the city that makes us cringe, where society’s outcasts sleep on benches.

In Haiti, entire neighborhoods have been left virtually untouched since the earthquake five months ago.

World Concern is now expanding its humanitarian reach into Fort National – one of the hardest hit neighborhoods during the quake – to begin rebuilding and repairing homes. It is one of those neighborhoods yet to see significant aid.

The rubble in this area has been a virtual tomb for hundreds of bodies. As we’re uncovering debris, we see Haitian workers overcome with the sights and smells. Our disaster relief director, Merry Fitzpatrick, says, “they appear almost drunk” as they stagger from the stench.

The pain is far from over here, but we see the importance of moving into the Fort National community. As we make progress, those in homeless camps can return home.

We’ve already helped more than 300 families move back into their newly repaired homes in the nearby Delmas neighborhood. In the meantime, 500 kit homes have arrived in Haiti – and assembly begins in the coming days. After that, we plan to build an additional 500 homes with local materials. Neighbors are working side by side to rebuild their own neighborhoods, providing a sense of tangible recovery.

“Leaders are stepping up into their roles and communities are banding together,” Merry says. “There is evidence of hope all around.”

Yet with all of this progress, the dark cloud of hurricane season looms on the horizon. Haiti was spared from major hurricanes last season, but forecasters, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, have predicted a highly active season, which officially began on June 1.

Several major Category 3 or above storms are predicted before the end of hurricane season in November. Nature has created a deadline of its own for our disaster relief experts to move earthquake victims out from under tarps and into or back into homes before hurricane season peaks in August and September.

We are confident, with your help, we can beat this storm season and make sure as many vulnerable families are safe in homes this summer. We won’t seek to avoid this – but instead – take it head on.

Learn more about World Concern and our work in Haiti.

Homes are being built amidst destruction in Port-au-Prince
Homes are being built amidst destruction in Port-au-Prince