This week I read a story about a mom with a very ill infant who desperately needed treatment at a hospital in Haiti. However, with the severity of events in Haiti, she found herself searching for an extended period and far distances for a hospital that is open and operational to care for her baby. As I continued reading, I realized this story only touches the surface of many for the unfathomable reality of those in Haiti right now.
Maybe you’re like me and sometimes feel that some of the gut-wrenching events and turmoil happening in other countries are so much bigger than yourself. You’re kind of right. See, many of us may not be in a position to go and fix things for our neighbors physically, but we can most definitely commit to praying for them. And that is the first step we can take right here and right now.
With our prayers this week, we can devote time to pray specifically for a revival in Haiti. We can look in scripture and be reminded of Mark 2:1-12 and recall the events of Jesus forgiving and healing the paralytic man by the radical faith of his friends who went to the extreme for him to receive healing. That is the power of prayer we are believing in for Haiti. We’re praying that the prayers and power of Christ will be a catalyst of revival and cover the present crisis in the entire country.
Pray with us as we pray the following for Haiti:
Nonprofit and mission staff in Haiti
Hope and restoration for Haiti’s economy
The church in Haiti
The leadership of Haiti, its government, and the political and security situation in Haiti
The people of Haiti
I sometimes have to remind myself that catastrophes, casualties, and crises are no respecter of persons – this alone is a reason to approach them with genuine empathy. Whether near or far, we can stand in the gap and pray for Haiti. The ability to join together for an entire week and pray with faith, humility, and intentionality for those whose lives are and have been impacted and forever changed is what this week is about.
Be encouraged and empowered by knowing you can pray for those impacted, and it’s your thoughtful prayers that can reach the corners of Haiti. Continue praying for Haiti with us by visiting our prayer page.
January 12, 2010, is a day Haitians will never forget
“I heard a noise like a storm,” recalls Efanor Nore, World Concern Haiti Country Representative. He was driving with several other people through Haiti’s capital city Port-au-Prince when the magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit on January 12, 2010. The road buckled in front of him and another car smashed into the broken concrete.
He’d snapped a photo of a large white building in the city just minutes before the earthquake, not knowing it might be the last photo of the building standing.
“This building totally collapsed after,” he said, “We couldn’t even imagine how many people died in there.”
Efanor spent the next 17 hours trying to get to his family’s home in Petit Goave, just south of the city, but the roads were blocked and he had to sleep in his car. Not knowing if his family had survived, Efanor spent the night praying. “I talked to God in my heart and said, ‘Give me strength … If I am still alive, I will serve the Lord,” he prayed.
“I saw many people—women, girls, boys, and men—coming out into the street and seeking a place to rest. They were covered with dust from concrete. When they saw our car, they asked us to take them to the hospital. I felt really powerless, then I cried,” he remembers.
“When I arrived at Leogane, where the epicenter was located … a woman lay down on the ground in the middle of the street, screaming and weeping. All the communication was cut around 2 to 3 minutes later.
“It was a nightmare.”
Port-au-Prince was in ruins. Cinder block buildings crumbled into dust. While there is no official death toll, the Haitian government estimates more than 300,000 people died in the earthquake.
World Concern’s Response
No World Concern staff were lost or injured in the quake, and the Port-au-Prince office sustained minimal damage. Sleeping in tents on the rooftop for fear of aftershocks, the staff went to work immediately, distributing emergency supplies—bottled water, food, and tarps—to families in need. Over the following weeks and months, World Concern implemented a large-scale response that assisted tens of thousands of people who were affected by the disaster. A massive outpouring of generosity from donors helped meet immediate needs for shelter, water, medical care, and income, as well as plan a long-term response. It was evident it would take years to rebuild Haiti.
In the months after the quake, transitional shelters were provided to families who lost their homes, and cash grants were given to families and business owners to restart businesses that were lost, among other activities.
Since 2010, World Concern has helped numerous communities prepare for disasters in Haiti, equipping families and communities to be more resilient in the face of recurring disasters, particularly hurricanes and storms. The goal is to bring the government’s disaster plans that are in place down to individual families, where training and equipping are needed most.
“Community members have to own the process,” explains World Concern Deputy Director of Disaster Response, Maggie Konstanski. “At World Concern, we don’t see disaster as a one-time event, but always aim to leave a community more resilient and protected than before.
“When communities are truly equipped with early warning systems, trained on how to use them, and they’re owned at the community level, and an effective, safe plan is in place, it does save lives,” she says. “The community wants to protect and save themselves. We’re giving them the knowledge and tools to protect themselves.”
Is there hope to rebuild Haiti?
Despite efforts from the Haitian community, aid organizations, and the government, the unique and extensive challenges in Haiti have prolonged and even crippled rebuilding efforts. Efanor believes only about 3% of buildings in Port-au-Prince have been rebuilt in 10 years. And an estimated 38,000 people still live in tents and makeshift camps that were set up after the quake.
Corruption, gang violence, political crisis, and drugs have left the city in a state of ruin he believes is even worse than 2010.
“Gangsters occupy many places downtown. Many areas are very high risk and not accessible. Even after the earthquake people were able to operate. Now … it’s not safe at all. Most people have fled downtown– no one would want to live there. All the businesses have moved out,” he said.
But as this Sunday’s 10th anniversary of the earthquake approaches, Haiti’s president plans to unveil plans on Friday to rebuild the presidential palace that was destroyed in the earthquake. The lot where the palace once stood has remained vacant since about 2012 when the damaged building was finally demolished.
“(The design) takes into account the history and culture of Haiti,” said Efanor, who believes, “It will be a wonderful building that will remind us of the capital city of Haiti.”
Is there hope for Haiti? Efanor believes so.
“Haiti is really resilient. Even at this time of political crisis … Haitians still have hope,” he said. “They think a new day will come where people around the world will use the example of what Haiti has faced over the past 100 years of suffering to learn … The time of Haiti will come,” he said. “We continue to be an example—positively. We face more than any civilization has faced in the past. We hope to use our past experience to move forward.
“Haitians want peace. And we want solidarity. And Haitians love God. We want people to keep loving God in spite of problems, disasters, in spite of poverty, we thank God – the creator of the universe, who has a plan for the world.”
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.
Lew 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 Lew’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 Lew is so sick. The dirty water and unsanitary conditions are the perfect breeding ground for parasites. These nasty worms are now multiplying in Lew’s belly and sapping all the nutrients from his tiny body. The cure for this horrible condition?
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.
How the 44-Cent Cure Saves Lives
The 44-Cent-Cure is the most cost-effective solution to poverty’s biggest problem.
Within days of taking the pill the worms are dead, Lew 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 Lew 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.”
After a few days, the pill that we gave Lew killed all the worms in his belly. His fevers are now gone. The nausea and diarrhea are gone. And Alexi is able to return to work.
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. To learn more about how you can give the 44-cent cure and help cure a child, click here.
“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.
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.
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—
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 …
In the back of her classroom in rural Haiti, 12-year-old Dashna often puts her head down on her desk and prays. The pain in her stomach gets to be too much and she can no longer concentrate on the lesson being taught. She winces with pain and silently cries out to God for help.
Worms are ravaging Dashna’s insides, sucking away vital nutrients she needs to grow like vitamin A, and causing her excruciating pain. Can you imagine try to learn in a classroom when you are in so much pain?
This is common in places like Haiti, where children walk barefoot, drink from filthy streams contaminated by raw sewage, and parasites are rampant. Worms enter the body through dirty water, or when a child eats or touches her mouth without washing her hands after going to the bathroom. They can even enter through the soles of her feet.
Once worms enter a child’s body, they multiply and begin their painful pursuit of eating away at what little food she consumes. Sometimes, this can cause her stomach to hurt all day long.
Even more, parasites spread easily between family members living in cramped quarters with no access to toilets or a way to wash their hands. Because of this, Dashna’s two younger siblings are also sick.
The good news is that deworming medicine is inexpensive and can begin to work within hours of taking the pill. When coupled with vitamin A, which is depleted by worms, and long-term solutions like clean water, sanitation, and hygiene training, the 44-Cent Cure can prevent reinfection.
After living in Haiti for two years where I worked with World Concern, I returned to the U.S. a couple weeks ago. Aside from getting used to much colder weather and way too many cereal options at the grocery store, I have been attempting to answer, as best as possible, all kinds of questions about Haiti.
One of the most common questions has been how the country is doing since the 2010 earthquake—Haiti’s strongest in two centuries, claiming more than 230,000 lives. This tells me that perhaps not everyone has forgotten about Haiti and that fateful day on January 12, 2010.
However it’s a challenge to answer that question. It’s a big question and I feel a burden to answer accurately and completely, but at the same time I realize most people are not asking for a lecture.
As someone who has lived in Haiti, I can tell you that it is a wonderful place full of color and life. Most of all, it is my friends there and the dozens of others I’ve met through my work with World Concern that I remember. These faces are what stand out in my mind when someone asks how Haiti is doing and each face is a beautiful creation of God with a distinct story. Everyone has a story and each is unique. And with the stories of healing and restoration have come ones of difficulty and loss.
The recovery process and transition to long-term development has been slow and difficult at times, but positive things have happened in the past five years. But there are major chronic issues that persist which keep people from living healthy and productive lives. This is the reality. Is Haiti progressing? The answer, in my opinion, is yes. Does Haiti face challenges? Also yes.
There are more people coming to Haiti as tourists and the country’s image is slowly improving, roads are being rebuilt with many paved for the first time, and the number of homeless people has fallen to less than 100,000 out of the 1.5 million initially without a home following the earthquake.
And what about the struggles? Cholera, which was first introduced in Haiti in October 2010, is on the rise again, and the water and sanitation infrastructure needed to defeat it is missing. Too many families are not able to get enough food with 2.6 million people food insecure as of July and a political crisis looms as long overdue elections in the country are yet to be held. And Haiti remains vulnerable to drought, hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes.
The earthquake highlighted the need to focus on helping communities become better prepared and less vulnerable. This is an area that the government and many organizations, including World Concern, have chosen to invest in since 2010 which is encouraging. A community that is more able to cope with a crisis on their own is one that will be more protected and have less loss of life.
At World Concern we have worked to train local first responders, build community shelters, establish early warning systems, and introduce drought resistant seeds to farmers. Our goal is to see communities empowered, resilient and able to stand on their own. We’re grateful for significant progress in this area.
Haitian Creole, the national language of Haiti, has lots of proverbs or sayings—one thing that makes the language so rich and beautiful. There is a common proverb that says “Piti piti wazo fè nich,” which means “Little by little a bird makes its nest.”
So how is Haiti now? How has the country moved forward? Well, things are better and there is a lot of hope, but piti piti wazo fè nich.
Have you seen the 2017 Global Gift Guide yet? One of the more popular items are goats, and for good reason. Read about a young girl in Haiti named Fania to find out why the gift of a goat means she’ll get to stay in school.
In the rural community of Mersan in southern Haiti there is a primary school called Ecole Mixte Bon Berger. Since 2012 World Concern has partnered with this school by providing goats and husbandry training to students. With a goat, students are able to earn an income by selling the goat’s offspring and using the money to pay for school tuition and other supplies.
One of these students in Mersan is named Fania Bien-Aime, a shy 14-year-old girl who has a smile that is hard to forget. She lives a 15 minute walk from the school with her parents and six siblings. “I always walk to school. In the beginning it was difficult but now it is easy.”
“I know how to take care of the goat because I learned some things in the training,” she said. “When it’s raining I have to shelter the goat but usually during the day it sits in the shade because the sun is too hot.”
Now her goat is in heat and Fania expects it to become pregnant shortly. When working with communities, the ‘long view’ must be taken into consideration. There may be solutions that would provide temporary assistance to Fania, however this lacks sustainability and requires a handout to be given repeatedly. World Concern is interested instead in long term solutions.
A goat is a treasured asset in rural Haiti because it represents a steady income. “Each year a goat can give between six and nine kids, and she may produce kids for up to 10 years,” explains Pierre Duclona, World Concern’s regional coordinator for southern Haiti.
While a goat and relevant training may not produce immediate results, it will provide students like Fania with a way to earn an income for years to come and give her new skills which she can carry into adulthood.
Fania will soon begin the 6th grade and is looking forward to returning to class after the summer break.
“The sciences and mathematics are the ones I like. I like to study,” she shared. “Education is important so I can help my parents and also for myself to feel good and help in society.”
“I would like to be a tailor but I can’t sew right now. For now this is the profession that is in my head,” explained Fania. “You can get money from this skill because when school begins, parents need to send their children’s uniforms to get sewed.”
With a goat and specific training, Fania is well-positioned to earn an income and therefore continue with her education which will give her opportunities to provide for herself and her family. It is because of your generosity and partnership that we’re able to help keep girls like Fania in school! Give the gift of a goat today.
Today, on the International Day for Disaster Reduction, the international community is coming together to recognize the critical role older people play in building more resilient communities by sharing their experience and knowledge.
At World Concern, we’re joining in this call to include older people in planning and preparedness activities while recognizing the value they bring to their families and communities.
Improving sanitationthrough the construction of latrines to prevent the spread of water borne disease.
Teaching communities about soil retention and reforestation to protect the land.
Developing early warning systems and evacuation plans that include people of all ages.
Strengthening infrastructure like flood water canals to keep water away from homes and people safe.
“The older person is often invisible in our communities until they show up in the mortality figures after a disaster event,” said head of the United Nations Disaster Reduction Office, Margareta Wahlström.
By working together towards the common goal of focusing on inclusiveness of people of all ages in disaster preparedness, we can ensure that no one is invisible and that everyone becomes resilient for life!
Today is World Humanitarian Day—a day to remember those who have lost their lives in humanitarian service and celebrate the spirit of humanitarian work around the world. We’re honored to introduce you today to some of the remarkable people who work for World Concern. Head to our Facebook page and check out our World Humanitarian Day album to meet a few of these people. Continue reading here to meet Bernard, one of our #HumanitarianHeroes in Haiti.
Bernard Rozier is a husband and father of two who lives in the city of Les Cayes in southern Haiti. Since 2004 he has worked with World Concern as the Hope to Kids (HTK) Program Manager. This program began in 1998 and provides students with a goat and husbandry training which allows them to earn an income and pay for school.
Bernard is a soft spoken person but is well respected and loved by the children he serves. He would be the first person to tell you that he is not superhuman but simply a man who loves God and wants to do his work well each day. Grab a cup of coffee and sit down with us as we ask Bernard a bit more about his life and work:
Why did you choose to work in this field?
“First of all, as there is a lack of jobs in Haiti people do not always have a choice in choosing which field to work in, but I chose to work in this field as I always have a passion to work with kids and a passion for animals. There is a custom in Haiti where people are afraid of animals like frogs, snakes, and spiders. So animals create fear in the Haitian people and sometimes they kill them. So as I work with the kids I teach them not to kill those animals because they all eat insects and therefore they help us to fight insects without using insecticides, which can be harmful if used on our vegetables. I also teach them the importance of the goat milk as it is a good source a protein for kids. So this field enables me to help educate the kids and I hope this will have a positive result in the future.”
What impact does the Hope to Kids project have on children in Haiti?
“The program teaches the children how to make a living with their work. The care the children provide the goat will allow them to one day sell the offspring and make some income to meet their daily expenses and contribute with their parents to school expenses like buying books, uniform, pens, and other materials. The goat we provide the students with is dependent upon them so the children will act as parents toward the goat, feeding them, leading them to water, and sheltering them.”
What motivates you to come to work each day?
“What motivates me to come to work each day is the hope that I bring for the kids by the goat I provide them and the joy I bring to them by playing with them. When I visit the kids to give the goats shots and the goat cries, all the children are laughing so even the goat clinic brings joy to the kids too.”
Do you have a hobby or activity you like doing outside of work?
“The activity I like to do outside of work is playing with kids and making them happy even for awhile. When some kids see me, they laugh so some of them call me ‘toy.’ I also sometimes act as a mentor for kids.”
What do you hope for the country of Haiti?
“What I hope for the country of Haiti is that all people, including the peasants, would have a source of revenue to respond to their daily needs.”
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” – Benjamin Franklin
Imagine a hurricane has just swept across your rural village, toppling trees, blowing roofs off houses, and flooding streets. As you rush to check on family and friends you discover a number of people who are trapped under fallen trees or stuck in a muddy ravine. There are no emergency services and your village does not have a health clinic to treat even basic injuries. What would you do?
During the last week of July, World Concern coordinated a three day training on first aid, and search and rescue techniques for 24 community volunteers, or ‘brigadiers,’ in southern Haiti. These volunteers are ordinary people who want to better serve their families and communities. Here’s a look at this important training and some of the people we met.
Volunteers learn how to tie a variety of different knots that can be used to rescue a person or move an obstacle.
Ready…one, two, three!
Making their “victim” comfortable, yet secure. They are practicing maneuvering the victim out of a ravine.
Teamwork! Working in coordination, two rescuers pull the stretcher and victim, while four others guide it.
“I chose to be a brigadier because there were a lot of people in my community that were affected by catastrophes,” shared Rosemarie (above) who is a mother and has been a volunteer in her community since 2010. “There are many difficulties for the victims to recover after a catastrophe so I felt the responsibility and decided to be a volunteer to help my community.”
Even basic first aid knowledge can save lives. Many of these volunteers’ communities do not have a clinic or hospital so they are the first responders before help arrives or a medical facility can be reached.
Volunteers learned how important it is to protect the head when transporting victims. Practice makes perfect!
And their off!
“I was interested in becoming a brigadier because if someone has a need in my area, I want to help,” said Paul Joseph (orange shirt), a 34-year-old father of two. “Everyone in my community knows who the brigadiers are and how we can help.”
“I think with the training we’ve done, when accidents happen now we can give first aid to people so they can live,” he continued.
In the final day of training, the volunteers participated in a emergency simulation, putting to the test everything they learned throughout the week. In the simulation, some volunteers played the role of a “victim” and their injury or condition was written on a piece of paper which was placed on their body. The rescuers had to find the victims, determine what condition they were in, and decide the best way to ensure their safety. Here, volunteers are prepped and given tools for the simulation.
After carefully removing the brush from on top of the victim, volunteers evaluate this man who hurt his leg.
After deciding that the victim could be transported, the team placed on a brace on his leg and helped him to the “medical station.”
Rosemarie was another victim in the simulation. Here a volunteer tries to revive her and another gives instructions. Hang in there Rosemarie!
Thanks to some great CPR and delicate care, it appears Rosemarie will make it and is on her way to the medical station.
“It is important for more people to know (about first aid and search and rescue) because when more people know, we will have less victims too,” said Rosemarie. “If more people know, we will have less people die. Less victims.”
The victims were all found, treated and carried to the medical station. Great job everyone!
Now these volunteers have the skills and knowledge needed to be active participants in their community when a crisis or disaster comes. These are important and significant investments in communities and will help reduce vulnerability and save lives. For more information on our disaster risk reduction work, click here.