One year later, BIC churches continue to support earthquake relief efforts in Haiti
GRANTHAM, Pa. (january 12, 2011)—One year ago today, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake shook the island nation of Haiti, devastating the capital of Port-au-Prince and claiming the lives of more than 230,000 Haitians. Those who survived have faced homelessness, a widespread cholera epidemic, and social and political unrest.
In response to this tragedy, members of North American Brethren in Christ churches have responded generously, contributing material and financial assistance to the relief efforts. Within three weeks of the quake, BIC congregations and individuals had contributed more than $11,950 (Cdn.) and $3,000 (USD) to the BIC World Hunger Fund (WHF). By March, congregation and individual giving to the WHF had surpassed the $70,000 mark. To date, $57,056.17 (U.S.) and $29,441.08 (Cdn.) have been given to the WHF toward Haiti relief and recovery efforts.
Because the BIC Church does not have an official presence in Haiti, the WHF has disbursed these gifts through its affiliate Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and several other organizations with significant BIC contingents. Included in those agencies are Mission of Hope Haiti, a non-profit specializing in education, medical care, and disaster relief; and Awaken Haiti, a non-profit organization launched by the Carlisle (Pa.) BIC Church to provide assistance for four orphanages in the Port-au-Prince area.
How have these organizations responded over the last year to the needs of the Haitian people?
MCC: According to their website, MCC has made some incredible strides toward recovery and rebuilding in Haiti. Despite setbacks related to the recent cholera outbreak and political/social unrest, MCC has succeeded in:
- Dispensing aid to 20,762 people in the Port-au-Prince area within three months of the earthquake.
- Sending 34,072 relief kits from Canada and the United States to Haiti, along with 26,712 comforters.
- Repairing or constructing 516 homes.
- Distributing 1,000 water filters to help prevent illness.
- Inspecting 660 buildings—including schools, medical clinics, churches, orphanages and some homes—for structural damage resulting from the quake.
- Employing 610 people in MCC-funded cash-for-work projects in Desarmes and Port-au-Prince.
Learn more about MCC’s ongoing work in Haiti.
Mission of Hope Haiti: Over the last twelve months, Mission of Hope has used its existing resources—clinics, schools, orphanages, and churches—to dispense much-needed aid to the Haitian people. To learn more about their efforts, check out this video.
According to Rachel Montgomery, a member of the Falls View BIC Church (Niagara Falls, ON) serving with Mission of Hope near Port-au-Prince, the recovery has been taxing—for Haitians and for relief workers alike. In the months following the quake, Rachel battled post-traumatic stress disorder, traveling temporarily to the U.S. to receive medical care. Now back in Haiti, Rachel—the associate director of Mission of Hope’s Hope House Orphanage—continues to work with young people who live in fear of another natural disaster.
“We’re all traumatized, we’re all still dealing with it, we’re all still messed up and there is no shame in that,” Rachel wrote in a November 2010 dispatch. “We can get through this together, no matter how long it takes.”
Awaken Haiti: In partnership with Carlisle (Pa.) BIC Church, Awaken Haiti has worked for the last year to coordinate earthquake relief efforts, support pre-existing orphanage ministries in the Port-au-Prince area, and host a number of short-term missions teams from the U.S. In October 2010, the non-profit entered into a new phase of its ministry as Jeff and Deb Denlinger, members of the Carlisle congregation, moved their family to Haiti so that Jeff could serve as Awaken Haiti’s director of operations.
Looking back on the past year, Jeff notes, “There is a lot of work to be done here in Haiti. There are homes to be rebuild, sick people that need care, children that need love, families living in tents. There are so many that want to be self-sufficient, but there is so little opportunity, so there are businesses to start and jobs to be given.” But in the midst of it all, he says, “We take comfort in the faith I see in our Haitian friends. We continue to be in awe of their faith and perseverance.”
“We know God is working here in Haiti, and we are so blessed to be part of what He is doing,” adds Deb.
Continuing the recovery
As these reports from our ministry partners indicate, the work of rebuilding Haiti will continue for the foreseeable future. You can have a hand in this relief and recovery through your donation to the WHF. Gifts through the WHF communicate to MCC and our other ministry partners in Haiti that we Brethren in Christ are united in our commitment to serving compassionately, and allow the denomination as a whole to celebrate the generosity of our people.
About the World Hunger Fund
For more than 30 years, the World Hunger Fund (WHF) has provided a way for BIC churches and individuals in Canada and the U.S. to extend a “cup of cold water” to their global neighbors. Over the years, the purpose of the WHF has expanded to include a wider range of relief assistance, including flood recovery, school supplies, and housing.
Please note: Checks and online gifts designated to “World Hunger Fund—MCC Haiti” will go 100% to our affiliate MCC. Gifts designated to “World Hunger Fund—Haiti” will be distributed according to our standard policy, available on the WHF website.
In the U.S.: Donations can be made online by selecting “World Hunger Fund.” Additionally, you can mail your check to the Brethren in Christ Church Offices at 431 Grantham Rd, PO Box A, Grantham, PA 17027. When giving by check, please make it out to “General Conference of the Brethren in Christ, Inc.”
In Canada: Donations can be made online by selecting “World Hunger Fund.” However, Canadian donors will not be eligible to receive tax credit for any gifts given to the BIC Church online. Cheques should be made out to the “Canadian Conference of the Brethren in Christ Church ” and sent directly to the Canadian Conference of the BIC Church: 2700 Bristol Circle, Oakville, ON L6H 6E1.