Rebuilding and recovery now under way
Monday, January 12, 2009
Canadian Suzanne White (right) helps sort donations from Canada in Gonaives, Haiti
GONAIVES, Haiti In a year-end e-mail, Pastor Revenel Benoit, president of the Lutheran Church of Haiti (LCH) expressed a heartfelt “thank you” from those in Gonaives and area who were devastated by four hurricanes and a intense flood in September. Of the approximate 900 Lutheran families in the stricken area, water destroyed the homes of 150 of them (including those of three lay pastors), and about 800 families lost all their belongings. Fortunately, supporters in Florida managed to ship two containers to Gonaives with emergency supplies of clothing, medicine and some food. As a result of the emergency relief, President Benoit reports “we have seen a tremendous increase in the number of people attending church services in Gonaives.”
After providing immediate emergency assistance, LCH’s first priority was restarting its small loan program so the families who had lost their source of income could begin again. When they are earning income, they will help support the congregations and schools.
The second priority was restarting the quarry project which provides the LCH with funds to support lay pastors and teachers. This happened early in December after repairing the quarry road.
The third priority is repairing damaged LCH buildings and replaceing equipment. In November, the Coordinating Committee of the several Lutheran Haiti societies sent US $23,000 to repair the orphanage, medical clinic, TV and radio studios and transmitter, a school, and the computer school.
The Board of Directors of Haiti Lutheran Mission Society (in Canada, HLMS) has forwarded all of the more than C $23,000 contributed by Canadians through Lutheran Church–Canada. In addition, HLMS has sent emergency support of US $10,000, and US $5,000 for the school feeding program ("Kids Feeding Kids"). This will help offset sharply rising food costs. HLMS has kept other disaster funds in reserve temporarily to assist further reconstruction of homes, etc.
In the meantime, members of LCC congregations in Ontario overwhelmed HLMS with donations of material goods for shipping to Haiti. A 40-foot container was filled and sent November 1. It was released from customs in Port-au-Prince, trucked to Gonaives, and unloaded before Christmas. President Benoit reports,“So far our distribution of goods has touched over 26,000 Christians and non-Christians, and we hope to serve another 8000 with that last container we received from Canada.”
The generous quantity of donations (mostly clothing) has filled almost two-thirds of another container. HLMS will continue accepting goods and plans to ship another container this winter.
For this overwhelming outpouring of love, Rev. Benoit, the LCH and HLMS humbly thank LCC on behalf of our suffering and grateful Haitian brothers and sisters in the faith!