Having lived in Haiti for twenty-seven years, I’ve seen a lot. I’ve seen the damage caused by several tropical storms; I’ve seen the destruction caused by coup d’états and numerous manifestations, and I’ve seen the incomprehensible damage caused by the 2010 earthquake, that ravaged much of Port au Prince and nearby cities. Some estimate that up to 250 thousand lost their lives, perhaps just as many were injured, tens of thousands of houses and buildings were destroyed or damaged, and thousands upon thousands were left homeless. It was unimaginable.
And then on October 4, 2016, Hurricane Matthew made landfall near Les Anglais in southwestern Haiti, as a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 130–156 mph. This seemingly demonic force uprooted untold thousands of fruit trees, damaged many more and wiped off the face of the earth tens of thousands of gardens belonging to people that depended on them for food and for income from selling their produce in local outdoor markets. Goats, cows, pigs, horses, donkeys, chickens and turkeys were swept to their deaths. And some houses and buildings were simply smashed to pieces as if made of toothpicks. Other sustained damage by falling trees and having roofs blown off. Vehicles and houses were washed away by flooded rivers and perhaps up to one thousand people lost their lives.
This week I, with a team of people, traveled to the mountains above Port Salut, on Haiti’s southern peninsula, to bring 100 water filters, bread from our bakery, tarps and water treatment tablets to those impacted by the hurricane. I’ve been on the road to Port Salut several times, but struggled to absorb what I was seeing: Destroyed and damaged homes, telephone poles down and hundreds and hundreds of tree damaged and down.
Once we made the turn to go up the mountain to the village of Nan Campêche, it was as if we were entering another dimension. Those in the truck got very quiet as what we were seeing drifted from the surreal to something that really did happen. We entered a land where in one day the lush gardens, the trees brimming with fruit, and the small houses typical in the mountains had been damaged, destroyed, blown away, uprooted, slammed to the debris ridden-churned up land, and where animals and people had lost there lives. It had been clear that a powerful, bent on destruction, force had preceded us there. The evidence was all around us.
In this place and thousands of villages like it, people depend on their gardens, fruit trees and animals to survive. They eat from the gardens and trees, raise the animals for meat and then sell the excess in outdoor markets to buy staples like rice, beans, cooking oil, fish, spaghetti… and to pay for school for their children, health care, clothes and life’s necessities. Where now will they find food to eat? Where now will they find money to buy the necessities? Where now will they find the money needed to rebuild, to replant? How many years will it take to again have mature shade and fruit bearing trees? Where will the money come from to buy more animals? Where will people live? Many live in remote, extremely difficult to get to places. Will help reach them? Will they be remembered or is this, for them, the new normal?
Some type of structure once stood here, but now it’s completely gone. The houses built out of cement certainly fared better
Heartline didn’t travel to Nan Campêche alone. Kelly Crowdis of Christian Veterinary Mission coordinated the trip through young adults that she works with in the area and missionary Ernie Rice provided 100 water filters donated by the Texas Baptists Men’s Disaster Relief. We brought with us 100 water filters, 1400 pieces of bread from the Heartline/Beltis bakey, tarps and water treatment tablets. It was in some respects a trip to access the needs of the people and to see if we can help.
It’s the remote locations of many of those that have suffered such loss, that hinders aid from reaching them. Even among the Heartline workers there are at least 30 whose families have suffered loss and who need emergency and more permanent help such as helping to rebuild homes, purchasing animals and seeds for their gardens.
Heartline can’t help everyone, but we can help some as we collaborate with others that are working to help. It was Mother Teresa that said,
If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.
By clicking here you can donate and help Heartline help those that have suffered such horrible loss. The math is simple, the more that is given, the more we can help. You and your help matters.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds( and glorify( your Father in heaven.
Endeavoring to be the Hands of Jesus,