When Tropical Storm Jeanne hit Haiti, it killed more than 1,900 Haitians and left more than 300,000 homeless, according to World Vision. Christians immediately began helping.
After surviving the flood that enveloped Gonaives during Jeanne, Maula Jean-Marie started an initiative he thinks can instill a glimmer of hope in northern Haiti.
While still developing his microenterprise plan, the director of the Youth With A Mission base hired a 14-member crew to clean up mud-filled houses.
"We're going to try to hire about 60 people," said Jean-Marie, who also plans to stage evangelistic rallies into next year. "We have activities to inspire hope in the city."
Across Haiti, churches and relief workers are struggling to help the troubled island nation recover from September's natural disaster. According to The Washington Post, 3,000 people were either dead or still missing by mid-October. To make matters worse, four-dozen people died in mid-October in violence touched off by supporters of deposed president Jean Bertrand Aristide. The Haitian dictator was forced from office last February.
"Fighting takes place on a daily basis," said Wesley Charles, national director for World Vision in the capital of Port-au-Prince. "There's disappointment because the local population expected [with] United Nations troops in the city that peace would come."
Becky Noss, volunteer and resource manager for World Relief, spent the last week of September in Haiti. Noss had lived there for 18 months to establish an aids-prevention program.
Noss said churches are organizing food distribution. But shipments are often looted, with some desperate citizens trying to grab food as trucks leave warehouses.
Noss has been impressed with the resilience of Haitians. "You see them going up and smiling and trying to encourage people and then privately hear their stories of going on rooftops to survive high water."
Schools are another victim of the recent troubles. Most of the nearly 400 public and private schools in Gonaives are damaged. Enrollment at the school operated by Delmas Christian Church (four hours south in Port-au-Prince) has plunged from 1,800 last year to fewer than 700.
Despite the overwhelming needs, pastor Addi Bazin said the chaos has prompted caring, sharing, and fervent fasting and prayer in his church. Bazin said the uncertainty of life is strengthening his faith. "What happened in Gonaives could happen anywhere else in the country," he said. "Nobody knows for sure what is going to happen from one day to the next."
World Vision airlifted $900,000 in medicines and medical supplies to Haiti on October 1. The supplies, donated by map International, include syringes, antibiotics, and bandages. Relief workers are trying to prevent outbreaks of diarrhea, typhoid, and other water-borne infections. World Vision provided $250,000 in emergency kits for families. The Adventist Development and Relief Agency, meanwhile, has delivered tons of shoes, clothing, and food to affected communities.
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