An American's Impression of Bangladesh

Men muscle 3-wheeled rickshaws through the streets of Dhaka, Bangladesh. The average income for a Bangladeshi: $1,500 a year.
Men muscle 3-wheeled rickshaws through the streets of Dhaka, Bangladesh. The average income for a Bangladeshi: $1,500 a year.

I arrived in Dhaka at the peak of the summertime, where my sweat-drenched shirt never dries in the near 100 degree heat, and the power seems to go out every few hours (like it did as I typed this  sentence).

During my first five minutes in Bangladesh, beggars approached us as we walked to our vehicle at the airport, then more beggars asked for our help as we drove on the streets. Crammed among the cars are 3-wheeled rickshaws driven by thin chauffeurs. If they’re not waiting for a customer, they’re standing on the pedals, straining against a load.

Other countries where I have documented World Concern’s humanitarian work face more significant problems with infrastructure. In Haiti, some roads in the city are in such disrepair, it is like they had never been leveled or paved. In fact, it was simply years of neglect – coupled with some storms.  Dhaka generally has nicely paved streets, and many homes and businesses have power, outside of the frequent blackouts. In Kenya, access to clean water seemed like a greater need than here, though I have not yet seen conditions in the poorest homes made of scrap wood and sheet metal.

This is not to say Bangladesh does not have great need. I can see it in the man without legs who instead walks with his hands. I see it in the older gentlemen crouched on the hot sidewalk, without eyes, who was hoping that somewhere in the blackness, people would provide him with coins for a bowl of rice. The average income here: $4 a day.

Outside the wall of a World Concern-sponsored school that was in session, I see the need in the children without shoes or uniforms, who play marbles in the dirt instead of learning how to read in a classroom. Like in many places where we work, schooling here is not guaranteed. It is usually only a privilege for the wealthy, or for those benefiting from an organization like ours. We give 5,000 children an opportunity they may not have otherwise had.

I was not able to find a guidebook about Bangladesh prior to my trip here to document programs. It is the least Western country I have visited, with no familiar stores or advertisements, and very little English on signs outside of on the primary thoroughfares. From what I’ve seen so far, I suspect there are very few people from the West who visit Dhaka, which means less foreign investment, both financially, and in awareness of the country. Did you know Bangladesh is more populated than Mexico or Russia?

So far I have visited a medical clinic and a school, both packed with people and highly regarded in the community. Once again I am pleased to see World Concern working in areas of intense poverty. Though Christians amount to about one half of one percent of the population, I see the hands of Christ working through our humanitarians, both employees and volunteers. They touch the lives of those in desperate need of compassion.

Beautiful children outside a World Concern school in Dhaka, Bangladesh. We have a special interest in seeing girls have an availabilty to education.
Beautiful children outside a World Concern school in Dhaka, Bangladesh. We have a special interest in seeing girls have an availabilty to education.

Hanoi Humanitarians Bring AIDS to Light

Migrant workers like this man pay about $10 a month to share a small room with 3 other people.
Migrant workers like this man pay about $10 a month to share a small room with 3 other people.

Within a five foot area on a concrete slab, a man poured water over his head to bathe, then washed clothes in a bucket. Shortly after, a woman arrived to gut a chicken.  Under tin-roof canopies, people cook over campfires and live four to a room the size of a king-sized bed.

Life in a Hanoi slum is to live simply, then send as much money as possible back to the family living in the country. Rent is about $10-$15 a month. About 30 or more people live in the slum I visited, living lives separated from their families.

No one is getting rich in this cramped, grimy place. But, they make more money in Hanoi than they could in the rural towns in Vietnam from which they came. They work migrant jobs like pulling carts at all hours of the day. Some sell fruit on the street corner.

It’s a risky place in many ways. After dark, it’s a dimly lit maze of alleys and opportunities for theft or assault. And often, the stress and loneliness leads these migrant workers to use heroin or prostitutes, and both vices often come with AIDS.

Out of the many needs in the slum, one of the greatest is the need for knowledge. World Concern helps in several ways. Much of it has to do with educating people about HIV and AIDS. It’s been more than 20 years since the world has learned about AIDS, but in small Vietnamese villages, many people still don’t know what it is or how it is spread.

Migrants who get AIDS in the city are bringing back more than a paycheck when they visit their home villages. We try and make sure that doesn’t happen.

Through education, condoms, behavior change courses, medical check-ups and countless conversations from hard-working volunteers, World Concern is bringing AIDS to light in the slums. We’re telling people that the risks are real, and their decisions not only affect themselves, but their families, and even entire villages.

If we stop the spread of AIDS in Hanoi, we don’t have to respond to the disease spreading across the countryside. We are grateful for the support of the government to get access to those most at risk, and thank our donors across the world, especially Tearfund UK.

I was impressed with a man I met who goes out of his way to be an advocate. He works all night – and hasn’t lived near his family in years. He faces more challenges than I can fathom, and goes out of his way to volunteer, thinking of others before himself.

Also read our HIV and AIDS blog.

Clean water is a new blessing in this Hanoi slum. People bathe, wash clothes, and prepare food, all within a few square feet.
Clean water is a new blessing in this Hanoi slum. People bathe, wash clothes, and prepare food, all within a few square feet.
Humanitarians in Hanoi, Vietnam, help spread the word about AIDS in the slums.
Humanitarians in Hanoi, Vietnam, help spread the word about AIDS in the slums.

Anti-Government Protests Escalate in Thailand

Anti-government "red shirt" protesters climb on top of two tanks outside a busy Bangkok mall.
Anti-government "red shirt" protesters climb on top of two tanks outside a busy Bangkok mall.

When I exited the train at a Bangkok mall, people were running to the railing, shouting and looking down. I thought this couldn’t possibly be a “red shirt” anti-government protest. But as I joined others and saw the street below, it was clear that demonstrators had returned to the city in force.

Two government tanks sat in the middle of what is usually a busy street. On top of the tanks were dozens of men in red; all around them were hundreds more. Some protesters waved the flag of Thailand, others wearing red bandannas over their faces pumped their fists in the air. In spite of the prime minister issuing a state of emergency to help keep Bangkok and other areas secure, police and soldiers did not do much to stop the protesters, from what I could see.

As I was getting out my camera, a lady next to me shouted down at demonstrators, who quickly returned her remarks with hostile gestures. Presumably, the woman has a “yellow shirt” mindset, a supporter of the existing government.

Looking through my viewfinder with one eye and trying to maintain my focus on the activities around me, I noticed red shirts running up the stairs into the rail station. One man with a red bandanna stood next to me, waving with both hands at his friends below, encouraging them to to join him. Behind me, police began to drop the emergency gates to block out the protesters. I raced inside the now-secure station just in time.

The basic story is that “red shirt” protesters want the prime minister and other leaders to resign and want a once-popular prime minster (who was convicted of corruption and was ousted in a coup) to return to power.

Just yesterday, “red shirt” demonstrators had stormed a hotel in a town 90 miles south of Bangkok, disturbing a summit between Bangkok’s prime minister and the leaders of other Asian nations. The intended goal of the summit was to plan a coordinated response to the economic crisis. Instead, the leaders had to leave by helicopter.

One reason why I wanted to exit the train at the Siam Center stop was that it was a very “Western” area where I could probably get a hamburger. It’s regarded as a safe place. Signs in the Siam Pavilion shopping mall are in English. You might mistake it for any luxury mall in America.

I still don’t think the area is unsafe, in spite of the rowdy protest. But other areas of Bangkok saw even more action, including an attack on what protesters believed was the prime minister’s car. The next few days will be telling. If the government decides to act with more force, I worry how “red shirt” demonstrators will respond. For now, the “red shirts” have considerable power.

Some say that the polarization in Thailand is growing, calling the country “ungovernable.” That causes me some distress, as the interests of the poor and marginalized are at the forefront of my mind. With an ongoing power struggle, it may be increasingly difficult to improve the plight of those with the greatest need.

Writer’s note: Humanitarian organization World Concern focuses on helping the poor and generally declines involvement in political activism. All opinions are the blog author’s only and not those of the organization. The author just happens to be in Thailand as he sets out on a 40-day visit World Concern’s humanitarian activites across Asia.

A "red shirt" anti-government protester motions to his friends to join him inside a Bangkok rail station.
A "red shirt" anti-government protester motions to his friends to join him inside a Bangkok rail station.

Hundreds of anti-government "red shirt" protesters climb on top of two tanks in Bangkok April 12.
Hundreds of anti-government "red shirt" protesters surround two tanks in Bangkok April 12.
A "red shirt" protester wearing a mask uses a megaphone to help coordinate outside Bankok's Siam Pavilion mall.
A "red shirt" protester wearing a mask uses a megaphone to help coordinate outside Bankok's Siam Pavilion mall.
"Red shirt" anti-government protesters move barricades without resistance outside a Bangkok mall.
"Red shirt" anti-government protesters move barricades without resistance outside a Bangkok mall.
Security officials at Bankok's Siam rail stop lower security gates as protesters arrive at the entrance.
Security officials at Bankok's Siam rail stop lower security gates as protesters arrive at the entrance.
Security gates shut out "red shirt" protesters and other potential riders at Bangkok's Siam rail station.
Security gates shut out "red shirt" protesters and other potential riders at Bangkok's Siam rail station.

The Cross and the Poor: A Good Friday Meditation

Crucifix from Oberammergua
Crucifix from Oberammergua

The Cross and the Poor: A Good Friday Meditation

 

 

 

  But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” John 12:32

 For most of my life, when I read this verse, what really went through my mind was “But I, when I rise from the dead, will draw all people to myself.”  Good Friday slipped by quietly, a whistle-stop on the way to Easter. I identified with the joy of Easter. In our family, we triumphed in the empty cross.

 And, after all, it is triumph that draws people, is it not? Surely Jesus, had his thoughts not been haunted by the imminence of his death, would have realized that it the victory of Easter would draw people to him and not the horrendous pain, betrayal and abandonment of the cross. Don’t we flee from blood, torture, injustice, suffering and death? Those of us who grow up with little suffering, as I did, cannot understand the attraction of the crucifixion but eagerly embrace victory. Embracing the crucifixion threatens to drag us down toward death but the resurrection lifts us up to a life even better than the good one we enjoy now.

 But then I went to live among the poor, like those with whom Jesus lived, and began to realize that Jesus’ words were incisive, not short-sighted. Preaching only the triumph of Easter among the poor often stirs up only the hopes of Palm Sunday-of enemies defeated, of riches obtained, of a good life-hopes that are dashed between Sunday and the next Friday. Drawn only to a god of triumph, they are betrayed.  

 But a God on the cross, one who understands their sufferings because He too, has suffered and still draws their pain and sin into himself-that God is one whose love they can receive .

 I think back to a wood and thatch house raised on stilts over the stinky river that flows through Phnom Penh, Cambodia. With my hands on the shoulders on Chup Ly, a Vietnamese young woman in the last stages of AIDS, I prayed quietly as the Vietnamese pastor prayed aloud. Chup Ly, sold into sex work by her parents, had been drawn to Jesus and placed her belief in Him. As I prayed, I thought, “Shall I pray that I somehow take some of her suffering into myself and perhaps lessen it?”  The answer came back, “Meredith, I’ve already done that and am doing it now. You are too small a person to bear such pain. It’s not your commission.”

  “But I, lifted up from the earth, draw Chup Ly to myself.”

 I think of the fright of a five-year old child in a village in Mozambique watching as his older brother convulses in a sweat-soaked bed from malaria, grows still and finally cools into death.

 “But I, lifted up from the earth, draw this bewildered child and his brother to myself.”

 I think of the helplessness of the father, waiting beside the road with other laborers, hoping that someone will come and exploit his labor for the day so that he can feed his children.

 “But I, lifted up from the earth, draw this helpless man and his family to myself.”

 I think of the resigned pain in the eyes of the mother who watches her infant suckle ever more weakly at breasts withered from starvation.

 “But I, lifted up from the earth, draw this starving mother and child to myself.”

 I think of the twelve year old girl sold to sex traffickers, who alone, enslaved and abandoned, waits in terror in a small, dingy room as the approaching footsteps of the first man ever to have bought her echo in the hallway.

 “But I, lifted up from the earth, draw this terrified and soon to be violated girl to myself.”

 On this Good Friday, as I remember Chup Ly, dying of AIDS in Phnom Penh, I know with deep certainty that I must embrace both Good Friday and Easter.  “What is our calling then? We are called, simply, to hold on to (the risen) Christ and his cross with one hand, with all our might; and to hold on to those we are given to love with the other hand, with all our might, with courage, humor, self-abandonment, creativity, flair, tears, silence, sympathy, gentleness, flexibility, Christlikeness. When we find their tears becoming our own, we may know that healing has begun to happen….” (NT Wright, For All God’s Worth, pp 98-99)

Six Countries In 40 Days – Documenting Humanitarians in Asia

Can't get there without a visa stamp! I will visit Bangladesh and five countries in SE Asia.
Can't get there without a visa stamp! I will visit Bangladesh and five countries in SE Asia.

I am not sure what to expect with this trip across SE Asia. Six countries in almost as many weeks. And I’m visiting countries with strict restrictions. Who knows, I may be stranded in Bangkok instead of visiting projects! My goal: to try and relax and make the most out of each day.

I’m documenting World Concern’s humanitarian activities with video and photos, finding stories to help prove the value of our work. I’ll also be conducting some educational communication seminars to help the local staff.

I’ll be in some far flung places. Jungle villages with no electricity. Cyclone disaster zones. The leader of World Concern Asia said that if I am ever offered bugs by villagers, I should eat them and be gracious. I couldn’t resist bringing a bag of Clif bars, though.

The journey should last for 40 days. Sounds Biblical. Like the rain before the flood. I think God used that figure because it sounds like a long time, but not too long to where you’d go bonkers. I don’t know, though. I just left a beautiful wife and three-month-old daughter in Seattle. I already miss my baby hugging my neck.

The video monitor here on the seatback of this Boeing 777 shows that we are approaching the Sea of Okhotsk. Another few hours before Tokyo, then a connection to Bangkok. In the morning, I’ll be off to obtain a Myanmar visa. Later in the trip, I will document our child protection programs in Cambodia. I’ve been thinking a lot about human trafficking recently. I look forward to seeing what we are actually doing to stop it.

So join me over the next month or so. I look forward to showing you why World Concern makes it its mission to reach those who might otherwise be forgotten.

I was in Tokyo for three hours, long enough to check out this sweet drink in a vending machine.
I was in Tokyo for three hours, long enough to check out this sweet drink in a vending machine. I presume it tastes like a strawberry flavored bird.
In Tokyo's Narita airport. This is the plane I took from to Bangkok to begin this humanitarian journey.
In Tokyo's Narita airport. This is the plane I took from to Bangkok to begin this humanitarian journey.
What time is it? It's about noon in Seattle, but the middle of the night in Bangkok, where I have checked into my room.
What time is it? It's about noon in Seattle, but the middle of the night in Bangkok, where I have checked into my room.

Glimpses of hope in Haiti

UN member countries contribute police forces to help stabilize Haiti's security.
Ever see one of these near your home? UN member countries contribute police forces to help stabilize Haiti's security.

Haiti is a country of contrasts. Some roads in downtown Port-au-Prince look like a rocky river bed, with jagged rocks and certainly no indication of recent maintenance. I was amazed to see piles of trash dumped in city streets or sidewalks, the mounds rotting or smoldering.

The country’s government is a fragile entity. When World Concern staff travels to Haiti, we carefully evaluate the security in the country to minimize risk. You might see some Haitian police forces, but at least as often, you will notice UN security forces. Sometimes they will be working on foot. Other times, they will be in full armor, travelling in an armored personnel carrier, which looks very much like a tank. The poverty is so widespread, I was wondering when I looked at some poor families selling their fruit or other wares – if they could really find a better life.

There is another Haiti, though. It’s the Haiti that once was, and a Haiti that may one day return. I saw this in the white sand beaches that could be any Carribean paradise. If only tourists felt safe getting to the beaches, they would come. They could walk under beautiful canopies of trees, with coconuts and bananas growing in villages. Actually, as I understand it from locals, some cruise ships do now dock on an isolated area of the northern coast, allowing passengers to enjoy a secured beach. The locals tell me that cruise ship operators don’t make it clear that they are in Haiti.  They say the city name instead. Maybe one day there won’t be the stigma. Haiti once did enjoy tourism.

I can also see this potential with the Haitians who are able to educate their children and who value the rights of women. I am proud to see how World Concern humanitarians are helping Haitians who share our sustainable vision. Once-hungry families are now able to feed themselves.

There is a movement in this often desperate country to break out of the despair.  In situations where it’s easy to focus on the enormous challenges, it is refreshing to see hints of a better life for the good people of Haiti.

In Port-au-Prince, Haiti, piles of trash line many streets, sometimes set on fire.
In Port-au-Prince, Haiti, piles of trash line many streets, sometimes set on fire.
Does this look like Haiti? It is a beautiful beach, near Les Cayes, on the southern coast.
Does this look like Haiti? It is a beautiful beach, near Les Cayes, on Haiti's southern coast.

Fighting Poverty in a Violent Place: Sri Lanka

Ragu was killed while helping the poor in Sri Lanka.
Ragu was killed while helping the poor in Sri Lanka.

9/11 is a date that will always be associated with violence. For most of us, we think of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon but there was another act of violence on that day. On September 11, 2006, Ragu was killed-shot down as he worked with World Concern to serve the poor in Sri Lanka.

 Ragunathan (Ragu) was one of the field workers, working with community members to get their homes rebuilt and also to rebuild their lives and livelihood after the tsunami that devastated Banda Aceh, Indonesia washed ashore in eastern Sri Lanka. .

 After the tsunami struck the Government of Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tigers crafted a fragile truce. In August 2006, the truce fell apart. One of the hotly contested areas was around the port city of Trincomalee, built on the largest protected natural bay in all of Asia.

 On September 11 2006, during the course of his work near Trincomalee, Ragu stopped his motorcycle beside the road to answer his cell phone. While he was talking, he was shot dead. To this day nobody knows who did it. Was it a soldier thinking that Ragu was reporting information to Tamil fighters during this time of war, or a Tiger assassin, mistaking Ragu’s development work for collaborating with the government? Or was it a targeted killing because of a dispute going on in Ragu’s village at the time? Nobody knows-even now.

 When I was in Trincomalee last year, I passed by the spot in the road where Ragu was killed. I wanted to find out more about this man who had died while helping others.

 Ragu, a Tamil, was a father of five, three daughters and two sons. His last born, a son, was only four days old on the day Ragu was killed. Ragu was the poorest of the World Concern field workers. Though he was poor enough to qualify for a rebuilt home for himself and his family, he removed his own name from the list. Others needed homes so much more than he.

 When he attended staff meetings and training events with the team involved in rebuilding, Ragu asked the practical questions, always with others in mind. “Why is the supply of concrete delayed?” “When will the supplies be transported?”

 Ian McInnes who later led the Sri Lanka office once listened to Ragu talking with farmers who had received a house and were now were asking World Concern to give even more things-things that they could now provide for themselves.

 “You have a home now. Now is the time for you to pick yourselves up and rebuild. And, if you are thinking of fleeing the area, make sure that you give this home to someone else, just as it was given to you.”

 Ian wrote a letter to affirm and praise Ragu. Ragu carried it in his rear pocket wherever he went.

 The World Concern family in Sri Lanka and around the world rallied around Ragu’s widow and the children. All of Ragu’s children are able to go to school. Ragu’s oldest child completing secondary school at a local Catholic boarding school and the youngest will celebrate his third birthday on September 11, 2009.  

 Fighting world poverty in places of violence carries a price.  The number of humanitarian workers killed worldwide has continued to climb. Nine in ten die in acts of violence.

Fighting Poverty in a Violent Place: Somalia

Poverty in Somalia
Photo courtesy of the NY Times

Working on poverty reduction is hard anywhere in the world but is harder some places than others. World Concern is one of the few agencies that has worked in Somalia for over three decades. There is no effective central government in Somalia and the areas of our work are sometimes occupied by one of the rival groups and then another, sometimes from one day to the next. Violence in Somalia is always imminent. It is one of the most difficult and dangerous places in the world to fight poverty. We were recently asked by a donor how we are able to work in places like Somalia where there is so much violence.  Here is how our staff in Africa answered.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Somalia has one of the worst human development indices and the south in particular bears the burden. Due to the protracted conflict and natural disasters there have been an estimated 3.5 million people in need of humanitarian aid and a further 1 million are internally displaced (Somalia CAP 2009).

World Concern has worked in Somalia for almost 30 years. Through that experience, we have developed an understanding of the Somali people, especially in the areas that you referred to in your email. The current program primarily targets the unarmed, marginalized Somalia Bantus, who have small farms, and people affected by leprosy. Because of frequent conflicts with neighboring pastoralists (herders) who come in search of water and pasture for their animals, World Concern expanded the program to address water issues for the pastoralists.

The program is being implemented in an area that is located away from the main trade routes, providing some protection from conflicting groups. The residents of the area are the marginalized Somali Bantus. One of the villages a major settlement of people affected by leprosy. The project is designed to benefit 45,000 people, 24,200 of whom are direct beneficiaries.

The Somali political landscape is very dynamic with frequent changes. World Concern has always worked with and through the community elders and their structures such Community Development Committees, and Sector committees for the various activities. These are manned by the beneficiary community who come from the target groups. We do not deal with the armed groups in any way.

World Concern works with the locally elected central committee of elders which has remained unchanged over the years in spite of the constant shift of power in the area. The Central Committee is in charge of selecting the Community Development Committee. World Concern has continually trained the Central Committee and the Community Development Committees to build their capacity for project implementation.

The present programming is aimed at saving lives and reducing conflict between communities through capacity building. World Concern through consultative meetings with the community leadership has shared responsibilities in the implementation activities.

What would happen if our programs were forced to end either by a decision of the US government or because of violence from the Somali groups in power in our areas?

    1. We would have to immediately cease our activities without any planning or preparation.
    2. It would negatively reflect on the image of World Concern in the community because we failed to honor the obligation of completing the program. This would also make reentry into the community difficult. It would enhance recruitment of militants.
    3. It would negatively impact the work and reputation of our the local partners we work with on the ground.
    4. Most of the resources we and the communities have invested would be wasted because we would be unable to continue the activities essential to securing benefits to the people in the area of our work.
    5. The very fragile local economy would shrink even further because of lack of employment and reduced commerce.
    6. The community would suffer even more.  The already marginalized households and leprosy affected people would suffer greater oppression and be deprived of access to services essential to their welfare. Without our work with both of the competeing communities, conflict between pastoralists and farmers would probably increase.  Because we would not complete our planned activities, many in the area of our work would either lose their livelihoods. It would affect 80% of the pastoralists, 90% of the farmers, and 100% of those who fish as a major part of their livelihood.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Doing good well is more than simply knowing how to pursue interventions with excellence. Working in places like Somalia requires a strong commitment to the Somali people, patience, great wisdom in complex personal and group relationships. It means that we develop relationships with local leaders who are concerned about their people. It means that we must find local partners who will risk violence and carry on even when there are infrequent visits and interrupeted communication.  It means that our staff must depend daily upon a merciful God and be willing to submit their ideas and action to His direction.  It is only God who nurtures the courage of our staff to work in the face of uncertainly and sudden violence.

Haiti Humanitarians – Great Gawky Goats!

Goats are a prized commodity in Haiti. Poor families can raise and sell kids to pay school tuition.
Goats are a prized commodity in Haiti. Poor families can raise and sell kids to pay school tuition.

Goats makes me chuckle. Their crazy grins and non-stop noisemaking are a source of amusement for me. But I’ve seen first-hand in Haiti that these silly, awkward-looking animals provide a tremendous value to the very poor. They mean food. Income for medical expenses. Often, a single goat can pay for a year of school tuition. It’s hope with hooves.

Humanitarians at World Concern gives goats to families. Moms and dads often trust the goats’ care to children. Kids with kids, as we say. As an American, I thought of a goat as an unusual pet, but these are no pets. Goats do important work.

Some families drink goats’ milk and make cheese. Goats produce quite a bit of milk every day, often enough for families to sell the surplus in the marketplace.

Other families strictly raise goats to have babies. Once grown, the kids are put up for sale. I thought they might bring around $25 in a village marketplace. But in Haiti, the price of food is high. People are starving in the Haiti food crisis. These goat-keepers are able to make about $50 a goat. In Haiti, that’s a good chunk of an entire month’s income. Very often, that money sends a child to school, giving them a better future.

We’ve heard some tremendous success stories, like the family of that has raised nearly 20 goats over the last decade, allowing the children in the family to go to school. They know how to raise the goats well, and have truly seized on the concept. So it’s no surprise that goats are a hot commodity.

I saw grandmas receiving goats in southern Haiti. This is a country with no social support structure, so when Hurricanes decimated the region last summer, people there have been struggling. The storms killed crops – and animals. These goats were the first livestock they were able to obtain after the storm. There have been some hungry months. The grannies were so happy. A goat may be just livestock to us. For them, it’s a safety net against starvation.

Here’s how you can buy a goat for $35. Or – check out our “Complete Goat Package!”

Watch a video on this page about how World Concern helps during the Haiti Food Crisis.

A goat provides an income for this grandmother in Haiti who has little other income.
A goat provides an income for this grandmother in Haiti who has little other income.

Haiti Humanitarians – Hurricane Relief Tree By Tree

World Concern humanitarians give a man in Haiti a fruit tree to help feed him after hurricanes.
World Concern humanitarians give a man in Haiti a fruit tree to help feed him after hurricanes.

This does not look like hurricane relief. No tarps. No emergency crates of water. But with some saplings, World Concern is providing relief that will last.

Jacmel, Haiti, has been through disaster many times, most recently enduring several hurricanes last summer.

This week, World Concern humanitarians identified families in great need in this coastal community and gave them small fruit trees to replant. Families with orchards lost their crop last year, as strong storms killed trees, plants and livestock.

Families have faced periods of hunger over the past half a year. These families don’t farm and raise livestock for fun. They do it to survive.

The tree distribution actually had some tension, as the families wanted to make sure they received trees. People wanted to know that they were going to be included in the project.

For many, it was their first time to get a chance to begin growing again. It’s a chance at trying to make it on their own – and not rely on ongoing humanitarian support.

And that’s what World Concern wants people to do. Take responsibility. We help them plant their hopes and guide them as they grow.

Haitian children wait for fruit trees, as World Concern helps feed families after 2008 hurricanes.
Haitian children wait for fruit trees, as World Concern helps feed families after 2008 hurricanes.