Haiti. Earthquake. Despair. Homelessness. Hopelessness. Destruction. Death.
Since the January earthquake that devastated a nation, the global eye has turned to several other disasters (oil spill, anyone?). However, destruction and devastation in Haiti is so tragic there are several people and organizations still dedicated to rebuilding the nation. While immediate emergency relief has stabilized, organizations like the Red Cross and International Youth Initiative are now focusing on building long term programs that will stabilize Haiti. Permanent housing, water sanitation, vocational skills and jobs are just some of the areas being focused on. Give a man a fish you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for life.
According to this article, the Red Cross plans to be in Haiti for 12 months. Typically, there stay is 3-6 months. But the internal infrastructure of Haiti was so completely destroyed, the Red Cross feels they need to stay longer to build programs that will help Haiti sustain itself. The Red Cross website has some informative videos talking about their strategy and goals to creating “thriving sustainable” programs that will survive once the Red Cross leaves.
The International Youth Initiative is another fantastic organization dedicated to long term help in Haiti. IYI focuses on many material relief programs such as rebuilding houses and communities and distributing food, water and medical supplies. Their main focus, however, is on raising up a new generation of Haitians who will be able to take Haiti into this new chapter of rebirth and rebuilding. One thing they have done to build up new leaders is “adopt” 9 children who were orphaned by the earthquake. They live in IYI’s Center of Hope in the Haitian city of Croix de Bouquet. These youth are being cared for and mentored. To learn more about these youth check out IYI’s website.
A group of young adults from my church in Laguna Hills, Crossline Church, took advantage of an amazing opportunity to go on a week long mission’s trip to Haiti with International Youth Initiative. They left on Friday with 12 members and 12 50lbs suitcases full of supplies. Today they are helping to reconstruct a house where a widow and her 5 children live. They have led outreach programs, visited churches, shared their testimonies and played soccer with the neighborhood kids. My husband and I are in a small group with four of the team members and talked with them a lot while they were preparing for the trip. It was amazing to see how God put things together. Two of our friends, Jamie and Zach, weren’t able to get the time off work and so were not going to be able to go. But the team talked about it and decided to go a different week so Jamie and Zach got to go! Funding was another issue but at the last minute God brought in all the money needed. They were a little nervous because they weren’t exactly sure what to expect in Haiti nor were they sure what they were going to be doing. But from reading their blog it appears that in the three days they have been there they have already been given multiple ministry opportunities. What’s awesome is that they are all sorts of different types of opportunities. Construction, playing with kids, praying for people, sharing testimonies, singing…it’s clear that God is using everyone’s talents to His glory on this trip. I encourage you to check out the teams blog to see pictures, daily updates and prayer requests and praises. And of course to continue to pray for the nation of Haiti that the country would be able to rebuild its infrastructure and sustain sanitation, economic growth, housing, leadership training, food supplies and jobs long after the volunteers leave.