Haiti Update: The Power of LocalismJulie Smith
From Joe Knittig, CEO of The Global Orphan Project:
Hello, family. You know the details about the earthquake and Tropical Storm Grace, and the pre-existing trauma of Haiti that dates back hundreds of years. I will spare us all a retelling of what you already know and what’s in the news and get right to our update.
We have a long-term relationship with seven communities in and around Les Cayes, where the earthquake hit hardest. We are not a big relief organization, nor are we trying to be. Our objective is to wrap around and support the seven communities with whom we have a shared responsibility for children. There are a little less than 1,000 children and parents (mostly single moms) at issue. None of them – thank God – lost their lives. But the damage to their hearts, minds, emotions, homes, schools, churches, etc. is catastrophic.
Our objective is very specific: provide 60-90 days of stability and food security to these communities and their children – fast, knowing that the first 6-9 days is when hope can die in these situations. And do it the right way, through local leaders and local churches and household champions. If we can accomplish this, then there will be margin to do healthy mid to long term damage assessment and remediation, such that “empowerment” is real, not a slogan.
In our GO Haiti operation, we have a team (100% Haitian) of 55 highly intelligent, courageous leaders, and a long-term network of grassroots local church partners (100% Haitian) and friends that we have developed over many years. In essence, we have a pre-existing, highly relational, uber local care network of servant leaders who want to care for their own children, families, and communities, not raise their personal profiles or act like big shots. They don’t wait for natural disasters to rally together. They do it every day, believing that trauma in children and families in crisis is an everyday earthquake. When egos and logos get set aside, and sacrificial love of the most vulnerable children and families is the shared goal, we can accomplish so much together.
With our friends at Sunrise Airways and Chatelain Cargo Services, two great Haitian companies, our GO Haiti team and church partners formed an immediate local distribution system with tarps, food, water, and other essentials flowing within 24 hours, and our first plane of relief flying at 8:00 am on Monday morning, almost exactly 48 hours after the earth shook. We were able to get tarps to our partners for their communities before Tropical Storm Grace hit.
Grace struck a brutal blow, dumping torrential rains with strong winds on the already hurting people in the most devastated areas. The level of desperation is dramatically increasing.
We have 8 more relief flights scheduled this week with Sunrise, two each day, weather permitting, to deliver around 6 tons of food and essentials to our local church partners in Les Cayes. We are hopeful that a “humanitarian corridor” will be secured from gang activity on the road between PaP and Cayes very soon, so that we can begin trucking support in bigger quantities next week. We say all of this as “God willing!”
We thank you, our ministry friends and family, for your prayers and generous support. You are a weird group of people! You love to be unseen angels, to empower local communities and families to be the heroes to their own children. You value dignity more than being recognized. This world needs more of you.
Above all, we thank God. He is orchestrating every detail through the Holy Spirit, providing specific direction, resources, and courage to take big risks for the small. With all humility and in tears of gratitude we can only say, “Thank you, Jesus.”
The pictures show a few of our Haitian leaders who are calling the shots and doing the work. God, I respect them! Pray for them. We are experiencing a tectonic shift throughout the earth, with brand new leaders whose time has come. We should be excited, not afraid. How wonderful!
God remains steady-handed and on the Throne.
If you would like to give to this effort, donations can be made here. 100% of your gift will go to support Haitian children and families impacted by the earthquake. Not some of your gift, not a percentage of it. Your entire gift will go to Haitians, for Haitians.