Recovery And Relief Efforts: Pray For A Miracle!
Since the last 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti on August 14 there has been a huge humanitarian relief and recovery effort. This effort has been undertaken by a combination of Haitians in the area, the Haitian government, international aid, and NGOs (NonGovernmental Organizations). All of these different organizations are vital to the recovery and relief effort, but getting these different groups to work together is about as easy as getting your local Baptist, Presbyterians, and Catholics to come together for a revival.
Here are some of the things that these organizations are trying to accomplish together in the short term:
- Rescuing people from the rubble and destruction caused by the earthquake. This includes hard to reach places and buildings that were not super stable to begin with.
- Providing essential supplies for people who survived physical harm only to find themselves without food, clean water, shelter, and other things.
- Getting victims the medical attention and services they need. This includes field triage and then transportation to specialty care and hospitals for those who need it.
- Clearing out the debris so that both survivors and victims can be found and so that rebuilding efforts can be started.
Think about how poorly this type of effort happened the last time a huge natural disaster on this scale happened in America (Katrina). New Orleans has never been the same and the infrastructure and leadership in America is considerably better than what you find in Haiti.
The other thing about what is happening in Haiti is that many people just want to get there and help. I was trying to get a flight down to get some supplies to All Things New (which I was able to do eventually) and flights were booked for 4 days in a row on JetBlue. This has not been the case in over 2 years.
So what you find when a disaster like this happens is 100s of different organizations sending supplies, sending medical professionals, and sending people down to a disaster area that is already overcrowded. The last thing Haitians in that area need right now are unskilled foreigners but that is oftentimes what they get.
The desire to help is a good one for anyone to have, but the chaos that comes with a relief effort of this scale when there is nobody really "in charge" can be almost overwhelming. In 2010 there were incredible amounts of waste, corruption, and mismanagement on essentially every level and Haiti is still not even close to recovering.
Here is my hope and my prayer for what is about to happen in Haiti. The recovery effort is underway right now and there is no way for chaos to not be at least a part of something like this. My prayer is that the next step will help this area of Haiti become something new and something better than ever.
Here are some things that I hope can change from 2010:
- Rather than American nonprofits (ie. Red Cross) getting a ton of donations that the average Haitian never sees, my hope is that these donations go to creating homes and jobs for Haitians.
- Rather than foreigners and wealthy Haitians taking the jobs and contracts that have to come along with recovery from an earthquake of this magnitude, my prayer is that local skilled labor get hired to build, clean up, and create the infrastructure that was lost. Someone will have to do it, and too often the money gets in the wrong hands and just never trickles down.
- Rather than the government asking for more and more money only to see a fraction of it getting to the masses, my prayer is that the money that comes in changes the lives of local Haitians and the local economy.
The earthquake was, in no uncertain terms, a disaster and a humanitarian crisis for a people and a country that cannot handle it. Haitians have a really good reason to be distrustful and even angry to see the number of foreign organizations coming in again since the debacle of 2010 but they are necessary. If handled correctly, on the other hand, this could turn around this part of the island that has suffered through numerous disasters over the past few years.
Pray with me for a miracle!
The miracle would be that this natural disaster would not be mismanaged like the last. The miracle would be that the money raised (and it will be significant) would actually go to provide jobs, housing, and positive infrstructure to the affected area of Haiti rather than the politicians and NGO leaders that do not need it.
America is currently in the midst of an entire separate international catastrophe in Afghanistan. Many of our resources and focus is there rather than in Haiti, but let's not allow ourselves to miss what is happening to our southern neighbor as well.
This is a turning point for Haiti. If all of the money raised is wasted and stolen by international nonprofits and taken by those who already own everything in that country, I cannot imagine how frustrating that would be for people who love Haiti like we do. I know that it has to be difficult to continue to hear about and donate to a cause that never seems to change.
This earthquake, while devastating in the short term, could be a life-altering event for the survivors in Les Cayes and Jeremie. Please pray that the money and aid get to the people who need it, that it provides jobs for those in the community, and that it changes the landscape of a country that just continues to get hard by so many different things...Both natural and man-made disasters.