We already knew Haiti was the poorest country in the western hemisphere; we already knew it had not fully recovered from a terrible earthquake in 2010 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Then the Aug. 15 earthquake struck.
Here’s a report from Reuters about what people there are facing now:
Men and women wept on Saturday over the four white coffins: three small ones for the children and a larger one for the family’s matriarch, 90-year-old Marie Rose Morin.
“I’m distraught looking at these coffins,” said Edouard Morin, her son.
Morin was also burying his daughter, Kelly, 15, his niece Wood-Langie, 10, and his nephew Carl-Handy, 4.
“I would feel better if I were being buried in the same grave as my mother,” he said.
The four-way funeral cost $1,750, a huge sum for farmers in rural parts of a nation where per-capita gross domestic product is less than $1,200, according to World Bank data.
Franck Morin, Wood-Langie’s father, recalled how he had left for work as a driver only minutes before the ground began to shake. He rushed back, only to find his wife bleeding from her legs and sobbing in front of the heap that was once their home.
The two of them dug through the rubble for two days until they found their daughter’s body.
“She was loved by the whole community, she was always dancing in church,” said Morin.
Now, we hear that more than half a million children were affected by the quake — either from having a family member injured or killed, or by losing their home, or because they are facing hunger due to damaged infrastructure.
“It is quite possible that Haiti is going to need more help than ever before,” said Akim Kikonda, a Catholic Relief Services representative in Haiti. “Prior to the earthquake, people here were already struggling to make ends meet. The area was slowly recovering from the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew in 2016, but drought and two recent tropical storms have largely destroyed the little livelihoods people had been able to restore. After Saturday’s earthquake, it is only going to get worse.”
So what can we do to help our brothers and sisters in Haiti? Here are three ways to start.
Do prayers really make a difference at a time like this? They absolutely do. Praying for people who are suffering is a way to connect our lives to theirs with compassion and solidarity. Prayer at a moment like this is a way to say, “I see you; I love you; I’m asking God to help.”
Prayers are not where our work ends, but it is a solid place to begin.
There are several established aid organizations with local roots and systems of support on the ground who are responding to the crisis in Haiti. What they need right now is the means to provide aid. Donating to these organizations — even if it’s the $5 you’d normally drop on a latte at Starbucks — involves you in the needs of those who are suffering, and empowers Haitians to rebuild.
- Catholic Relief Services has been in Haiti for 60 years and is working around the clock right now to help Haitians pick up the pieces of their lives.
- Hope for Haiti also has a long track record of supporting Haitians with education, healthcare, and disaster relief — you can see their aid being deployed on their Instagram feed.
- And World Central Kitchen is mobilizing local chefs it had already been training in Haiti to start providing emergency meals — check out their work on Twitter.
Lend your voice to bills and policy decisions being made about how the U.S. supports aid for developing nations. Building resiliency in a disaster begins with empowering people to improve the day-to-day living in their communities. In fact, there are budget conversations happening right now among your elected officials — write them to tell them that you want America to support poverty-reducing humanitarian and development accounts.