The 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck the southern side of the country couldn’t have come at a worse possible time, just as a category 5 storm is forecasted, as we mourn the death of our late president, and unsure about the future of political stability in the country. During the same night, the tremors were so strong that we were forced to have our children sleep outside in the cold. On Monday all relief efforts had to stop due to the Storm Grace passing. People had no homes to stay in and makeshifts tents blown away by the wind.
This earthquake brought with it unwanted memories of the January 2010 earthquake. With the death toll rising by the day, it is clear that this earthquake will leave more emotional scars in our hearts. In 2010, I was young and dedicated to help those affected, especially children. I helped set up the FWAL (Father Wasson Angels of Light) outreach Program, which provided basics needs to more than 2,500 children. Strategically, as the program grew, we built a local school to provide subsidized education and scholarships to those children. We always focus on making sustainable decisions to help those in need during times like this. We depend on the support of our partners and donors to make a significant impact in the lives of those in need; we help put them on a path to success. It is always a happy day when I see one of the children who started as part of our program in 2010. 11 years later, they are grown up and study at universities.
While basic needs such as water, food, and temporary shelter are necessary, we also need to focus on the future of those affected. When someone receives more food than they need, they start selling the surplus. The same goes if they receive too many water bottles, they start using it to bathe or wash clothes with it. The worst of this is that after two years, the same person is still left needing support to rebuild back their life. We have been doing this long enough to understand the impact of providing tools to people to help them succeed in their lives. It is also clear now that Haiti is a hotbed for natural disasters, so we need to make more sustainable decisions to help our brothers and sisters in this very difficult time.
We continue to help many families in Les Cayes, more specifically in Tubiron. We have given away clothes and construction materials such as roof-sheet-metal, nails, lumbers, raincoats, rechargeable lights, etc. We have also given away medical emergency kits and used part of our internal food reserve to give away a month’s worth of food supplies, such as rice, beans, cooking oil, salt, sugar, butter, etc. While we are providing the basics needed to help the people affected to survive the next month, but we do hope to provide a more sustainable help. Here are what want to continue doing this week:
- Identify those in need of a permanent house while we are giving away basic supplies and building trust in the communities where we help.
- Continue supporting the families of our employees and hermanos mayores (Elder Brothers) who are in the affected areas.
- Help to repair eligible houses and build new houses for a selected number of residents in the areas where we are providing our support.