Our partners in Haiti have experienced the worst of the hurricane. Below is an update from yesterday.
Overnight, the community and region I love so dearly was transformed from a lush, thriving source of promise... to a war zone. What once felt like home feels like a strange, disheartened land of destruction. Entire communities' homes have been wiped out; people have lost all that they own and their livelihoods; hundreds of people have died. And yet – most are survivors. Despite losing everything, here they are: working to help others, beginning to put together pieces of their lives and rebuild. While aid organizations claiming to have prepared for the disaster remained inactive, locals were beginning to piece together what they could. Haitians are so strong. So incredibly strong. Yet, even more painful to see than the physical damage, is the trauma and pain in everyone's eyes. Many do not yet see hope.
The last week has been about checking on all of the children and families in LFBS programs, as well as our staff: making sure they are alive. The first couple of days after the hurricane we did not even have telephone service and were unable to know if they survived until visiting them. Although most families are now homeless- and living , completely exposed, on the plot where their home used to be – they are alive. I was appalled by the lack of action from other NGOs during the first week following the hurricane, and we also took on providing medical care, water treatment materials and other supplies to some of the temporary shelters which are housing thousands of people who lost everything. LFBS staff members worked alongside social services and UNICEF immediately following the hurricane to do evaluations of the situation of children in orphanages and shelters. Many regions are far from any point of aid distribution and cholera is beginning to attack vulnerable communities in rural areas.
Looking at our surroundings in Southern Haiti & Grande Anse, it is difficult to find hope or imagine all of the agricultural wealth and communities being restored. The damage is immense. Yet, I find hope in the solidarity and strength of the Haitian people, which has completely blown me away over the last week. Yes, they can rebuild. It is possible to rebuild homes, livelihoods, and hope. Haitians can begin to piece their lives together and move forward – but they need hope. We need to show them that change is coming.