BACKGROUND ON HURRICANE MATTHEW
Still trying to recover from the 2010 earthquake which caused more than 200,000 deaths in and around the capital of Port-au-Prince, and an ongoing cholera epidemic and outbreak of typhoid during which 10,000 people have died and 700,000 have become ill, Haiti is again victim of a major disaster! On October 4, Hurricane Matthew made landfall on south-western Haiti as a category 4 storm with winds up to 145 miles per hour. It devastated the region with a population of 2.5 million people; a community leader describes the situation on the ground as “complete destruction”. Matthew has severely damaged 200,000 homes. 90% of the houses on the southern coast are destroyed.
In the city of Jérémie, the hurricane blew off the roofs and collapsed 80% of the buildings, including every structure not made of concrete. Nearly all the crops and livestock in the larger region were wiped out by the wind or destroyed by the subsequent flooding, leaving the majority of the population, who are subsistence farmers, destitute. With bridges and roads washed away, many communities are now inaccessible to receiving relief aid, except by boat or air. It is feared that massive death by starvation and a renewed cholera epidemic, due to lack of food and clean drinking water, may result in a catastrophic human disaster. Major relief organizations and WHO (World Health Organization) are mobilizing efforts to help, but they may, regretfully, be running against time.
The Bible commands us as believers to be generous towards the poor. Practical expressions of compassion and mercy are intrinsically interwoven into the faith of the believers as an extensions from The Source: God’s love through Jesus Christ! Although The Bridge does not directly work in Haiti since there is already a large Christian presence, and our focus is more on unreached nations, we make ourselves available to resource partners who serve the poor in Haiti on a grassroots level. In the aftermath of the 2010 hurricane, thanks to our generous donors, we were able to send a sizable amount of money through them to help groups of victims restore their lives.
In Haiti, we have been working through two of our trusted partners, Jorge Urra, and Jeanette Felix who via their own individual ministries have helped establish a network of indigenous leaders in Haiti who serve people in their local communities. You will find more information about them and their ministries below.
There are many good, efficient large Relief Aid agencies in the States who, in disaster situations like this, are needed to do the heavy lifting, like mass emergency assistance and rebuilding of damaged infrastructure, however, often their overhead and administrative costs are sizable. The Bridge is more the fish-and-loaves ministry. Through our partners we deliver from hand to mouth without middlemen or deducting overhead and admin. cost — trusting that God will multiply! Your donation will be applied in full, directly toward the spiritual and physical needs of Hurricane Matthew’s victims in Haiti! Please mark your donation 8010 Haiti Relief.
OUR PARTNERS WORKING IN HAITI
Jorge Urra — from Cuba to Haiti with the Gospel
You will find Jorge Urra’s background information, his testimony and ministry, posted at: http://www.bridgeinternational.org/pdf/july2011.pdf
A few days after hurricane Matthew had passed through Haiti, I called Jorge to inquire if he had heard from his Haitian leaders of the churches and orphanages he has served on the island for over 12 years. The answer came back, “The winds did some damage to buildings in those areas, but the floods have ruined the harvest and killed the farm animals. Every place is up to three feet under water. There is little or nothing to eat, and the drinking water is contaminated.”
Jorge will personally be going to Haiti with a team in a couple of weeks to bring as much relief aid and other assistance as possible to his Haitian network of pastors who will distribute them to the most needy among orphans, elderly and destitute.
Jorge Urra was born near Havana, Cuba some fifty years ago. He grew up surrounded by Fidel Castro’s atheist communist ideology, yet at 14, he came to faith in Jesus Christ, and was filled with the transforming love of his Heavenly Father. God’s compassion and love translated later into a ministry toward the rejected and fatherless—the unsaved, the orphans, and the welfare of God’s people in poor countries. He is presently involved in bringing leadership training to local pastors and relief aid to orphans in Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Peru.
Steve and I have known Jorge and partnered with him for 21 years. He is a man of faith and passion with an apostolic gift and an impeccable integrity! He presently lives with his wife, Magdalena in Miami where he has planted and pastors a multi-cultural church.
From New York City to the Mountains of Haiti
Likewise, you will find Jeanette Felix’ background information, her testimony and ministry, posted on this website at: http://www.bridgeinternational.org/2013/07/
The school Jeanette and her team founded in 2006 and continue sponsoring via their ministry Children in Need Haitian Project (CINHP), is located in Lespinasse in mountains up to 4000 feet about two hours drive south-east of Port-au-Prince. The school provides a full time Christian education including school supplies, and a warm nutritious meal daily for 120 students grades 1-6, and 3 levels of Preschool. Recently, they finished building a new school building. In the two pictures above, you see the old school building they initially renovated for educational use, and then new building adjacent to the old. CINHP is largely self-financed by the Felix family and a few friends.
Most of the people in the region are subsistence farmers, eking out a living in the valleys between the mountains. Jeanette writes, “ Apart from the south-west of the country which has total devastation, there are many other areas of Haiti that received heavy winds and torrential rains on steep mountains with few trees to prevent erosion and mudslides. These areas are never reported in the news and international aid does not reach them. The only access to most of these areas is by foot, like Nouvelle Touraine, located in the highest mountain range in Haiti in the south.
Friends and contacts in the region report on unbelievable destruction to homes, livestock, gardens, crops, and food bearing trees (i.e. bananas, avocados, plantains, coffee beans), their sole source of food and income sold in neighboring towns, all carried by foot on the heads of these strong and resilient people.
There is an urgent, immediate need for basic construction materials— tin, 2x4s, nails, hammers as well as tarps, basic first aid supplies, basic medicines, and food. We have people on the ground ready to buy, organize and mobilize all supplies into the steep mountains to reach these areas. Let us be the ones who show them that God has not forgotten them!
FROM R.K.’S CORNER
My first encounter with Haitian people was in 1985 when I first met Steve. He owned and operated a 20 acre commercial nursery where he employed 23 Haitian field workers. Sitting in Steve’s car surrounded by his workers in the midst of myriads of potted plants, at his bidding, I shared my faith and told them about the mission work I was doing (my French was doable then). In the years after Steve and I were married, we employed over a hundred legal Haitian workers. They were all reliable, hard-working, and self-motivated to making a good life in America for themselves and their families. God gave me a love for this beautiful people. Since then I have come to count many Haitians among my personal friends.
The Haitian people have continually suffered throughout their 500 year history under slave masters, wicked foreign rulers, corrupt local governments, and natural disasters. Yet, the problem in Haiti is not socioeconomic … it is SPIRITUAL! Self-proclaimed Voodoo doctor, elect President François Duvalier, declared in 1971 voodoo—religious witchcraft— the official national religion. This was affirmed in 1990 by President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Therefore, I believe Satan has a legitimate claim on Haiti, albeit there are many sincere Christian believers among them. Please pray that the Lord will send His Spirit of comfort and revelation of truth to set the captives free, and strength to the Haitian believers that they may boldly share their faith with others!