While most of the world’s attention has been on the tragedy of Port-au-Prince, others throughout Haiti are suffering as well from the earthquake and lack of attention and response. Our church network in Haiti continues to provide immediate relief and hopes for support from the international community soon.
The network, L’Union Strategique des Eglises Baptistes d’Haiti, immediately went into action and started meals to internally displaced persons who were coming to St. Marc to stay as well as those in transit. They also began providing meals to patients in St. Marc Hospital. We will ramp up that capacity to provide patients one meal per day for the next month.
We are providing cash grants to families. Haitians live on about $1.50 per day, and this support will be very helpful. We are providing “grocery grants” to families as well. This will help address the growing malnutrition problems that our doctors and others are seeing increasingly.
Our support of our partner church network for the last 10 years through monthly financial assistance to the churches and special project grants (church facility rehabilitation, micro-business loan grants to each church, cash for grants to families after previous hurricanes, and annual pastoral leadership training in the summer) has been useful to strengthen their capacity to launch into action. We will continue to strengthen their capacity to serve in holistic ways and seek how we can expand support to other networks as well.
Our churches to the west of Port-au-Prince, however, have taken a beating. We have lost four of our 22 church buildings completely; their families are devastated. People there are in desperate condition.
Lott Carey Baptist Church, the mission-supported church in Leogane, is cracked all over. The front of the church collapsed and is totally unusable. The 250 church members have all lost their homes; they are now living in makeshift tents and are totally destitute. Three members are injured and hospitalized.
There is a great need for food and basic shelter. In addition, the school is severely cracked and partially destroyed. With nowhere to go, the 450 students spend their days in the streets and have very little nourishment. Our hope is that more help will get to the city, where every family is affected by the tragedy.
Macedonia Baptist Church at Petite-RiviÃ¨re de Nippes, is completely damaged with cracks in every part of the building. The 300 members met outdoors last Sunday for their weekly service. Unfortunately, they have not received any help to our knowledge.
The 200 members of Platon Moneron Baptist Church in the mountains of Petite-RiviÃ¨re de Nippes is completely damaged. There is an overwhelming need for food and basic necessities there as well.
Since impassable roads have prevented personal visitations to Miragoane, we do not know the extent of devastation there or how the people are faring. While we hope for the best, we can assume that the people are in dire need as well if other locations near Miragoane are any indication. We pray that lives were spared, and the number of injuries limited.
We rejoice in the energy of medical professionals who are volunteering for service. We have heard from more than 40 medical professionals offering themselves for service in less than two weeks. Many of them are now in process of preparing for deployment. Others are already scheduled for deployment later this month.
We continue to pray for the growing collaboration that is emerging in unprecedented ways. We continue to live with hope.
David Emmanuel Goatley is executive secretary-treasurer of the Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Convention.
David Emmanuel Goatley is Research Professor of Theology and Black Church Studies and Director of the Office of Black Church Studies at Duke Divinity School.