I am dismayed by the devastation storm after storm has wreaked on Haiti in recent weeks. Most recently Hurricane Ike, now headed for the US coast, has brought massive flooding and landslides in and around the northern city of Gonaives. Hundreds have been reported dead, but the worst casualties will come later, the result of the inevitable scarcity of food, clean drinking water, and shelter. Even further down the road will come the greater disaster of children growing up without education, healthcare or proper nutrition because they grew up in a society consumed by survival, with no resources for anything more.
Haiti is a desperate country on the best of days. It’s the poorest country in the Western hemisphere and on par with some of Africa’s poorest countries as far as infant mortality, illiteracy rates, poverty levels, etc. I visited Haiti in 2004 after Hurricane Jeanne struck the same area in northern Haiti. Poverty is not foreign to me but experiencing Haiti, just a short plane ride from the wealthy coast of Miami, was truly shocking.
Now that even greater destruction is happening four years later I am sickened. Nothing has been improved in four years. Hillsides are still deforested, exacerbating the risk of landslides. Food and clean water are always scarce for most of the population. There is virtually no formal economy to speak of, people live hand to mouth and have nothing saved for times of disaster. The reasons Haiti is as it is are complex, with foreign powers like France and the US carrying a portion of the blame. Restoring it to any semblance of a habitable place will also be complex and I can only pray that, before the next storm, enough long-term help will arrive to put the country back on its feet.
In the meantime we can all help. When I traveled to Haiti in 2004 it was in part in cooperation with Dr. Joe and Linda Markee, former missionaries to Haiti with a long-term involvement in rural communities near Gonaives. The Markees now run the organization, Haiti Foundation of Hope, and are involved in community development including education for over 800 children and healthcare for hundreds of rural families. They will be providing financial support through local Haitian leadership to offer relief to those same families. You can donate directly through the HFH website. I’ll be donating 10% of online sales from Bambootique through October 15th to Haiti Foundation of Hope as well.
Every little bit helps. Please pray for the people of Haiti.