CORAM DEO HAITI UPDATE – NOVEMBER 2, 2016
“For You have been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat. For the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.” (Isaiah 25:4)
Haiti is going through another disaster as a result of the passage of Hurricane Matthew. The South coast of Haiti couldn’t stand against the powerful Category 4 hurricane. The worst part was that people were complacent and weren’t aware of its approach. As a result many people lost their lives. I was in Canada visiting family and doing a few presentations to raise support for Coram Deo. During hurricane season I always follow the National Hurricane Centre to monitor progress of storms. Usually storms head west to the north or south of Haiti and the country gets a glancing blow. Hurricane Matthew took a different path; a path not seen since the passing of Hurricane Hazel, which caused heavy damage to Haiti in the 1950’s. Hurricane Matthew was going to take a northward passage passing between Jamaica and Haiti. Just off the coast of Venezuela and Colombia the storm took the northward turn and I contacted CV and my Coram Deo family to warn them of the approaching hurricane. They told me that they had heard no warnings from the government. It wasn’t until Saturday afternoon that word started to spread, which was too late for the people in the South. Due to the passage of the hurricane the airport was closed for 3 days and I had to reschedule my flight back to Haiti. As it passed near Florida I had to reschedule my flight again and I couldn’t get back to Haiti until October 9th. It was tough to be in Canada and to hear and read the news reports about what was happening in Haiti. Cell phone contact was cut off in the south and also roads were cut off. A bridge was destroyed preventing access of vehicles from Port-au-Prince to the south. The only access was by helicopter and plane. Once cell phone service was restored and a path through the river was possible could other missions start helping the people of the south. Helicopters and plane fly overs at the beginning gave the news of how devastated the south was. In certain areas 90% of structures were destroyed and many trees, crops and livestock were destroyed.
When I got back to Haiti the first thing I did was to start contacting people we knew in the affected areas. Kenscoff is in the mountain area above Port-au-Prince. Pastor Pierre’s home was heavily damaged. The church withstood the winds. Many homes around the church were destroyed or had roofs lifted off by the strong winds. We visited some of the families and it was sad to see the destruction. Some large trees were uprooted or snapped in half by the winds. Thankfully nobody lost their lives in the church community. The road to the church was broken in 3 places due to landslides and we took motorcycle taxis to get there. Pastor Pierre stopped by this past Sunday afternoon to say that the road has now been repaired and there is now access to the church. We are thankful for donors who are helping us to buy materials to repair some of the homes in the Kenscoff area.
Fedner and Ramsey went out to visit family in the Chantal/Cayes region. Their family home is destroyed. Fedner’s father is blind. Chantal was heavily hit by the hurricane and the flooding conditions. Many people could not escape the water and at least 100 people lost their lives. A mother of 4 lost 3 of her children to the flooding. She could only save herself and her baby. Fedner and Ramsey brought food with them to give to some of the families and they also brought Aqua Jif to purify drinking water for Fedner’s father and neighbors. We are heading out to Chantal on the weekend and will be staying in tents to visit Fedners’ family. We hope to help with reconstructing his fathers’ house. Jn. Eddy and Amos went to Jeremie to find out if Jn. Eddy’s grandmother was still alive. She is alive but her home is destroyed. We are thankful that a donor wants to help Jn. Eddy’s family rebuild their home.
Schools across Haiti were closed for a week after the hurricane. Schools in other areas of the country are functioning again but the south has over 100,000 students who no longer have a school to go to. The government is saying that over 700 schools are damaged or destroyed. Please pray for all the students who are affected in these areas.
I never thought there could be anything worse than the earthquake that occurred here in 2010. The effects of the hurricane are worse. Not only are buildings destroyed but also many trees (especially the fruit bearing trees), crops and animals were lost. The south was a fertile region. The people in the south grow what they need and send their produce into Port-au-Prince to be sold at markets. It takes years for a fruit tree to produce. There are people who lost everything. The only food that they could find was bananas and coconuts. People need water to drink and people had no choice but to drink the dirty flood water. As a result cholera cases increased rapidly. Missions are scrambling to help the people in the affected areas and desperate people are attacking aid convoys to take the humanitarian aid in the trucks. In the last week 2 people have been shot and killed as police try to keep looters away. People who live near the main roads have access to the aid. People who live away from the main roads have no assistance. Ships from the American and Dutch navy have helped to bring supplies to Haiti. American helicopters were used to deliver aid until the main roads were cleared of fallen electricity poles and trees.
The southern part of the country will need humanitarian assistance until the farmers can harvest a crop again. As conditions become more difficult people are leaving the south and heading into Port-au-Prince. We are helping a woman who received an injury to her foot during the hurricane. Her foot is infected. A friend of the family drove her from the Jeremie area to the Cite Jeremie area of Delmas 31. We are bringing her back and forth to Bernard Mevs wound care every couple of days.
A couple of weeks ago we were blessed with a couple of medical clinics by Dr. Karen McCarthy and a medical team from Jacksonville Florida. For the 2 clinic days here at Coram Deo they treated around 600 people! We are thankful for their efforts and the medicines they provide to the people they saw. Last week we had a busy week doing follow-up on some of the serious cases they saw. A lady with Graves Disease had bulging eyes which prevented her from being able to close her eyes. She has now started medications to treat her active thyroid. Sadly, her husband left her when he saw her bulging eyes. She is now left to look after her 2 children by herself. Please pray for the people who we are following up with for medical care.
Meredith Price comes here every Monday to help people from the community who come looking for help. She wants to start a malnutrition program. Please pray for her efforts. On Monday a set of twins and a set of triplets came for follow-up care. The set of twins needs help with formula. The mother died in childbirth and the aunt is now raising these babies. The aunt is very poor and can’t afford to buy formula. We are thankful for the Price family and their ministry to the people in the Delmas 31 community.
The students here at Coram Deo wrote their 1st quarter exams last week. This year we have elementary (1st to 6th grade) and secondary students (7th to 9th grade) here at Coram Deo. Jn. Eddy is our school director and he is responsible for the day to day operations of the school. We were in doubt as to if we could even have a school program this year because of funding problems, but Mission Of Tears is seeking to help us pay our teachers. In the past we were able to buy text books for the students and the students didn’t have to pay tuition but this year we are asking the parents to buy the books for their children and also to pay a small amount for tuition. Please pray for the students and teachers here at Coram Deo.
Haiti has a lot of problems but the faith of the Christians in Haiti is strong. In the south where there are many broken churches congregations are still meeting for services and turn to prayer for strength. Christ is their refuge.
Please keep the people of Haiti in prayer and also the various missions seeking to help the Haitian people.
There is so much more that has happened the last couple of weeks . I will write more in another update J
Thank you for your prayers and support,
Karen Bultje Coram Deo
For donations please send to:
Mission of T.E.A.R.S
Suite 504, 50 Gervais Drive
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
*Please note on the name of the cheque that it is for “Coram Deo”