Haiti: There is an Enormous Need that Must be Met
by Bob Jeppson, Missouri Conference
On May 17, 2010 our UMVIM work team, led by Nick Elliott from the Southeast Jurisdiction, arrived in Haiti, the poorest nation in the western hemisphere. Upon clearing immigration and customs the results and images of the devastating earthquake began to unfold. We were among the first United Methodist work teams to begin serving the Haitian people under the new Haiti Response Plan. Our purpose was to serve the Haitian people, working on priority projects under the direction of the Methodist Church of Haiti
The devastation is almost impossible to describe. It is akin to describing the awe of the Grand Canyon in words and photos when both fall woefully short. I believe that to fully comprehend the situation, you have to witness it yourself. However, this UMVIM trip is not for everyone. Even if you have been with teams serving in disaster areas in the past, I can assure you, you have never seen anything like this. It can take a huge emotional toll. Everywhere you look there is damage and human suffering. You see tents - often fields of tents - which are housing displaced families everywhere. Even if a building has been deemed safe, the emotional impact has people afraid to return inside for fear of becoming another victim of another earthquake.
Our team traveled to work at Petit Goave, about seventy miles south and west of Port au Prince. Our base was the Methodist Guest House in Petit Goave, and our project for the week was in Fond Doux, a small village another 30 minute drive west.
Most teams come to build; build churches, homes, schools, clinics, etc. Our team was given the responsibility to tear down the church building in Fond Doux. When we first saw the church we thought we were at the wrong location. At first glance everything seemed fine. We then discovered the front wall was separated, leaning and about to fall as well as other structural damage that was not apparent at first sight. There is no place to rent a Bobcat or other implements of destruction. There are no Lowes or Home Depots where you can go for supplies, tools, or even use the bathroom. We arrived at the work site with 5 shovels, 2 picks, a sledge hammer, a hacksaw, a wheel barrow, a rope and our work gloves. Together with five Haitian workers we dismantled the church in Fond Doux and got the site ready for a new church building. It was hot (95 degrees) and we worked in the sun.
A huge blessing of the trip was the Haitian people and especially the children. Our work site often had 50 to 80 people watching, most of which were children. Team members held an improvised vacation Bible school. The kids are like kids anywhere. They like to laugh, play games, are fast learners and they love to be loved. But it is very hard to look at a child who is undernourished, has ring worm, is barely clothed and has no shoes.
I have been asked, "Would you go back?" I would in a minute. Though you are among people in severe poverty, the devastation is beyond description, and the living conditions are uncomfortable at best, there is an enormous need and one that does not get met without personal sacrifice, both emotional and physical. The people of Haiti were challenged through their poverty before the earthquake and now that challenge is magnified exponentially.
You can read the full story and see more photos on page 8 of the June 11 issue of the Missouri Conference Review at content.yudu.com/Library/A1ny73/MissouriConferenceRe
To schedule a UMVIM team to help in Haiti, contact the US-based calendaring coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org
Date posted: Jun 09, 2010