In September – literally two days before Hurricane Matthew devastated the southern peninsula of Haiti – I was in the country for the dedication of two schools. Sadly, one of those missions was damaged by the storm.
Just two months have passed since Matthew made landfall, and already the news media has moved on. This has led many Americans to assume that the situation has stabilized, but nothing could be further from the truth. I recently asked my friend and colleague, Zach Oles, Cross Catholic Outreach’s Haiti Project Officer, what the situation is like down there and he said, “It’s worse than you can imagine. In many areas, whole communities, including women and children, are blocking vehicles and demanding food. We have to be careful with the trucks we schedule for deliveries, for fear that we will set off a stampede.”
Unlike most in the media, Cross has not “moved on” and is instead doing its best to bring relief and hope to the areas of Haiti in greatest need. To date, we have delivered a total of 1.2 million meals, and thousands of sheets of metal roofing, along with wood and nails to construct temporary shelters – but much more still needs to be done.
“Unless you have seen the devastation,” says Zach, “you cannot fully understand. When we were in Les Cayes, for example, there were crowds burning tires on the road to one of our partners. These people were so desperate. They had lost everything. They know emergency help is arriving, but there is not enough of it.”
This is why we need the public’s continued support and why we must remain involved in Haiti’s recovery. According to the U.N., it is estimated that in some Haitian towns Matthew destroyed 90 percent of homes. An estimated 50,000 children are still in temporary shelters. Another 3,500 living in institutions need help accessing nutrition, water and sanitation services.
Please, continue your prayers for the suffering poor of Haiti. The general public may have moved on and forgotten their plight, but it is up to the Body of Christ to pull together and give generously. These people need our help more than ever!