Help restavek children who lost their homes and their schools
The earthquake that struck southwestern Haiti on Saturday, August 14 is still making its impact felt. At 7.2 on the Richter scale, it was twice as powerful as the deadly 2010 quake that leveled Port-au-Prince a decade earlier.
It appears that many fewer lives will be lost since it occurred in such a remote area. However, because it was such a remote quake – 80 miles west of Port-au-Prince – the rebuilding and recovery will be more challenging.
At Cross International, we have been called to serve in Haiti for more than two decades. We remember the massive suffering of the 2010 earthquake. It was personal for us. This latest quake is no less personal. We not only have projects in Haiti. We have friends who live there. We have a Haiti field office. So, when there is a disaster of this magnitude, we mobilize immediately to send food, water, tarps and other urgent supplies to wherever it’s needed.
For this earthquake, we were told that our Cross-supported restavek schools (known locally as MEBSH) were seriously impacted.
MEBSH is a long-standing partner of Cross International. Of the 14 MEBSH schools located in the southern peninsula, six were completely destroyed – in Bazelais, Bompas Pesmel, Lariviere Tiburon, Chardonniere and Camp-Perin. All were located near the epicenter.
To date, 490 MEBSH students and family members have been impacted by the earthquake. They not only lost their schools. They also lost their homes and are currently receiving support. And the situation became even worse following the earthquake, as Tropical Storm Grace dumped 10 inches of rain onto Haiti. It pelted people huddling in fields who had no homes and no protection from the elements. These families are in desperate need of food and shelter. That is why our field office is so vital to our ministry.
“Our Haiti field office enables us to respond quickly and nimbly to disaster situations such as the Haiti earthquake,” says Kelly Miller, President and CEO of Cross International. “
We have another Cross-sponsored Christian school system in the northern part of Haiti who, once they heard about their brothers and sisters in need, immediately offered to donate some of their funds to MEBSH, in order to purchase desperately-needed food staples, tarps and other essential items.”
“It’s a wonderful partnership, and a prime example of Christian partners working together, to help one another. The Body of Christ working as one.”
Kelly goes on to explain how Cross’ entire network of in-country church leaders provides the ministry’s eyes, hands and feet on the ground. “All of our in-country partners are helping each other,” he says. “They have been reporting details about the areas of greatest need and are paving the way for even more relief shipments to come. They provide more boots on the ground, and they ultimately implement many of the relief efforts we want to accomplish.”
“Our role is to empower our partners with training, financial and material resources, and the leadership development needed to address specific situations. This is certainly the case when we are responding to our MEBSH schools which have been so devastated by the quake.”
The Haiti earthquake truly showed no mercy when it struck on Saturday morning and turned thousands of structures into rubble. It targeted the poorest schools in the poorest part of the country and leveled them to the ground. But the people of Haiti will survive. Their faith is strong. With the love of Christ guiding us, compassionate relief can lead to long-term healing.
We will continue to work through the MEBSH leaders to identify priority needs and to determine how and when to become involved. We are only in the early recovery stages, where our brothers and sisters are going through a traumatic period:
OUR PROCESS FOR RESTORING COMMUNITIES
PHASE ONE: EMERGENCY RESPONSE AND EARLY RECOVERY
Prayerfully, we want to help those who have been impacted find stability in their lives as soon as possible. To do this, we will try to restore the basics in their lives and get their children back to school. (Note: School starts on September 6.) To this end, church services and classes may be held under a tent or some other temporary structure, but this is an important start.
For children who are restavek or who are in danger of becoming restavek, the restoration of the destroyed MEBSH schools in southwestern Haiti is vital to restoring hope – as well as meeting essential needs. Unlike so many other things in these children’s lives, the schools are a loving and dependable foundation for these often-forgotten children. They also provide the nutrition students can rely on, and the compassion found in the classrooms provides hope for a better future.
With six of these schools completely destroyed by the destructive power of the recent earthquake, many of Haiti’s children and their families are more vulnerable and more at risk than ever. They need to know that we care and are working in Christ’s name to bring rapid relief.
Your generous gift will be used for the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund through June 30, 2022, the close of our ministry’s fiscal year. In the event that more funds are raised than needed to fully fund the initiative, the excess funds, if any, will be used to meet the most urgent needs of the ministry and may be used in the following fiscal year.