Unforgettable. Life-altering. Traumatic. These are the words that describe 14 August 2021, for the nation of Haiti.
More than 650,000 Haitians, including 260,000 children, were suddenly thrown into a humanitarian crisis – due to a 7.2 magnitude earthquake – now known as the world’s deadliest environmental disaster of 2021.
The destruction caused by the earthquake impacted 46 of Compassion’s church partners and more than 150,000 Compassion-supported children.
Yet, on the one-year anniversary of the earthquake, we wanted to share something remarkable.
In the face of devastation, the Global Church is rising up, providing restoration and hope to communities that were shaken, damaged and destroyed.
The global Church in action
Through your generous donations to the Haiti Disaster Appeal, you helped the local church meet two significant needs: safe homes and trauma counselling for children in Haiti.
The need for shelter was critical as 12,000 homes of Compassion-supported children were destroyed or damaged by the earthquake. Equally as critical, post-trauma psychological care was essential after children lived through this devastating disaster. Your generosity means that Compassion Haiti and the local church have been able to meet these needs.
Your prayers and giving are helping to provide:
- Trauma counselling for children
- Mental health care and social support
- Resources for the local church for child protection
- Emergency food packs and clean water
- Temporary shelter that is safe and secure
- The rebuilding and restoration of the 12,000 homes that were damaged or destroyed.
What does the process of rebuilding and restoring homes look like?
Compassion Haiti has determined that the most effective way of supporting children and their families in rebuilding is through a voucher system. This voucher system is highly efficient and provided a way for 1,591 homes to be repaired or rebuilt by 31 December 2021. And by February 2022, 4,657 homes had been built or repaired
Here’s how it works:
- Our frontline church partners in Haiti distribute vouchers to families when they are ready to begin rebuilding.
- Families then redeem these vouchers at local stores and receive the materials they need as well as SPHERE (humanitarian standard compliant) construction plans.
- Families, alongside the local church, help construct their home (this typically takes two weeks.)
- Families report the completion of their home to Compassion Haiti.
Because the new shelters are built to SPHERE humanitarian standards, they are built to be safe and secure. These homes sit on raised concrete to protect them from mud and water and they each have a secure door with a lock and a sturdy roof. The foundations and structure of these houses can also be built upon and expanded in the future.
“Relief work has its place, but we cannot be satisfied with relief for a long time”, says, Guilbaud Saint-Cyr, the national director for Compassion Haiti. “We need to provide durable solutions! We’re committed to building safer and stronger buildings that withstand future earthquakes and hurricanes.”
The impact of rebuilding and restoring homes
Remember Soraya? Her story was one shared by many other children in Haiti. The earthquake destroyed her home. But Soraya and her grandmother, Ana, found help at her Compassion project. There they experienced the love of God in action—providing food, ensuring they had temporary shelter and eventually, providing what they needed to rebuild their home.
What does post-trauma psychological care look like?
As you can imagine, trauma counselling is a complex matter and amidst the many other needs that children and their families are facing, it could be easy to overlook this necessary part of the journey of restoration. But Compassion Haiti and our local church partners knew that this devastating disaster would have a significant emotional and mental impact on the children they serve. They have been building out a step-by-step plan to ensure that every child has the care they need.
The good news is that these initiatives are being funded and are in progress. In January 2022, post-trauma sessions were held to check in with Compassion-supported children, families and our frontline church partners. After those sessions, follow-up care has been provided for 661 children, families and staff members who needed additional psychological support.
Further to that, Compassion Haiti and our frontline church partners are continuing to check in with children and their families, are providing psychosocial activities for them and are even planning how to deliver long-term psychological care.
“Getting together to share their own experiences with other classmates and also to listen to them has given the children strength,” explains Stéphanie, a Compassion Haiti staff member. “After these sessions, they were more willing to move forward.”
Hope and bold, bright dreams for the future
Even for a people renowned for their strength, the past 12 months have been unfathomable for the nation of Haiti. Despite this adversary, there’s a generation of young people who have a fierce love for their country and its people and have bold, bright dreams for the future.
“My dream is to see success for everyone.” Ten-year-old Lovinsky.
“I love everyone living in my neighbourhood. In the last year, Compassion helped us to be strong by keeping us in their prayers. They give us food and rebuilt my parent’s house. It was destroyed by the earthquake.
Hope is wanting something to happen or to be true. My dream for my community is to see success for everyone. I want to be an engineer.”
“I love Haiti because we are strong.” 18-year-old Ricardo.
“My dream is to see Haiti like other countries: beautiful and secure. Being strong means never giving up. Over the last year, I have felt weak, but I prayed God would give me strength. Compassion helped my family and rebuilt our house and gave us everything we needed.”
“After every dark moment, the sun will rise again” 19-year-old, Islande.
“2021 was hard for me. I lost my sister during the earthquake. That makes me sad but now, as I try to live with her loss, I ask God to give me strength.
Compassion, for me, was a godsend. They kept me in the presence of the Lord. They teach us about the Bible and support my family, 100 percent.
My community is a strong community. What I love about it is that we support one another; we live like a family. My dream—it’s to see my Haiti smile one day. We have suffered too much. I want to be a doctor to take care of every child in my community.
Hope, for me, is praying and waiting. God is able. What gives me hope for the future is that after every dark moment, the sun will rise again.”
Thank you for helping families in Haiti experience the love of God in action
There is still much to be done for children and their families in Haiti. But there is hope. Hope because the Church has risen up in response to the great need. The local church in Haiti continues to be a beacon lighting the way forward and the global Church is a bolster, giving strength and encouragement as they continue to move forward.
Please continue to lift up the nation of Haiti and the local church. Join us in praying for:
- Those receiving long-term psychological care. May they know the peace of God that passes all understanding.
- Continued strength and perseverance for Compassion local church partners.
- The impact the global food crisis is having on the nation of Haiti. For provision over those who were already struggling due to the impact of natural disasters and the long-term impact of COVID-19.
- Protection against further natural disasters.
You can find more prayer points here.
A version of this blog was originally published by Compassion Canada.