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Posts Tagged ‘Haiti’

Faimée at the CFS

This is the story of Faimée, a five-year-old little girl who attends the FH Haiti Child Friendly Space (CFS) in the Siloe neighborhood of Port-au-Prince.  She lost her leg during the January 12 earthquake.  The following is what she told me when I visited her and her family one Monday afternoon in Siloe.

“Before the earthquake, I helped my mother with chores at home.  I could wash the dishes, go to the street market to buy things for her, and also prepare meals.  I could walk to get water for the house when my mother needed it.”

Born June 4, 2005, Faimée is an only child.  She lives with her parents and her young uncle Tiga, whom she deeply loves.  She was at preschool before the earthquake.  January 12 she was at home watching television when the earth began to shake.

“I yelled a lot and then everything went black.  I couldn’t hear anything.”

Faimée spent two days under the rubble of her house before her mother and neighbors could pull her out.  She was in a coma for several days and when she woke up one of her legs was missing. “When I asked my mama about my leg, she began to cry.”  Her mother cried and couldn’t find the words to explain to her five-year-old daughter why her leg had to be amputated.

Her family lost their home and everything they owned. “I lost my dolls, my book bag, everything.”

Now Faimée and the rest of her family live in the street.  She was sad because she couldn’t return to school- her parents could not afford to pay the school fees for their little girl.  She had to lie down most of the time and she needed someone to take care of her.

One day Faimée joined a Child Friendly Space and began to benefit from the time she spent with her new friends there.  Now she can walk with crutches and participates in the CFS every day.  “Now, I can help my mother again.  The CFS is like school, but more fun.”

She was accepted by the other students and feels secure again.  Her favorite activities are singing and drawing. “I like the CFS because I can play many games and I see a lot of children every day.  They are my friends now.”

The presence of Faimée at the CFS is a blessing for the other students and teachers.  They learn to set aside their differences in order to help others.  “The children can become children again,” declared one volunteer.

Faimée carries the marks of the earthquake’s violence, but her eyes are full of hope.  “I want to be a doctor,” she says, smiling.

Faimée’s father works for FH Haiti, in the Cash for Work program. Now he can provide for the basic needs of his family.  Faimée was registered in the FH Child Development Program and we are here to help her find her happiness and her health again.

By Emmanuelle Anglade and Mario Bellevue

Translated by Lauren Marshall

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Today marks the six month anniversary of the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010.  As I browsed news sources this morning I read several articles about current conditions in Port-au-Prince and surrounding communities.  Most painted a rather discouraging picture of what has been accomplished in the past six months.  Without a doubt conditions remain extremely difficult for millions of Haitians and the obstacles can seem insurmountable.

However, at FH Haiti we choose to live in hope- a hope based on a biblical vision for the people of this country.  We are working with a definite goal in mind: a Haiti where children can lead happy, healthy lives and live up to their God-given potential.

At FH we believe in partnering with local churches and community leaders in our work.  In this way we are better able to identify those most in need of assistance and also invite the community to take ownership of earthquake recovery efforts.  Here is a summary of those efforts:

Currently, FH Haiti is working within 65 sites in Port-au-Prince, areas around the city, and an area bordering the Dominican Republic.

Health:

  • Five international medical teams served for 1-2 weeks, providing mobile clinic health services.
  • Two Haitian health teams are currently providing mobile clinic services.
  • Medical supplies and pharmaceuticals provided to 5 hospitals and 2 health centers.
  • Training provided to 1,700 leader mothers every two weeks on treatment of diarrhea (transmission, care and treatment), proper hand washing, improved water sourcing and water purification, water treatment, conservation of water, feces disposal, good latrines, deworming, proper feeding of sick children, proper storage of food, breastfeeding, proper nutrition and Vitamin A.  Each leader mother is providing training to 10 others so that 17,000 additional people are trained on basic health and hygiene.
  • 10,303 direct beneficiaries of the mobile clinics.

Distribution of items: tarps, hygiene kits and jerry cans provided to nearly 4,000 families.

Shelter: FH is in the process of building 800 transitional shelters.  320 have already been constructed in the community of Siloe.

Child Development Programs: 5,197 children registered and 2,521 sponsored.

Child Friendly Spaces: 65 Child Friendly Spaces serving nearly 10,000 children; nearly 1,300 workers trained in child protection.

Water and Sanitation: 52 latrines dug; 337 TippyTaps (hand washing stations) installed; 1,400 hygiene kits distributed.

Cash For Work: nearly 2,500 workers hired for rubble removal, 39% women.

Cleary we have reason to celebrate what God is doing in these communities, even in the midst of destruction and suffering.  We look forward to continuing our partnership with local communities as we help Haitians rebuild.

For photos of earthquake recovery efforts click here.  For more information about FH Haiti earthquake relief click here.

By Lauren Marshall, FH Haiti CDP Volunteer

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Reflections from Musician Warren Barfield after returning from a visit to Haiti with Food for the Hungry

I am safely back home with my family after a whirlwind trip to Haiti.

I spent three days in Haiti with Food for the Hungry learning about the immense need there and how I can better help FH meet that need.  The goal was to see the work of FH with my own eyes so I could communicate with my audience and inspire them to partner with FH and me.

I prayerfully prepared for this trip asking God to give me the wisdom to see how I could help these people.  I return from my trip asking God to give me the courage and fortitude to act on what I have seen and now know I must do.

First we cannot begin to quantify the devastation in Haiti.  It is overwhelming.  What were communities of homes, stores, banks, and offices are now rubble.  Imagine your neighborhood leveled.  Imagine your grocery store, school, work place, church, and your home all gone.  Is there a park near you?  Across from my house is a common area where the families in my neighborhood walk their dogs or jog around.  The children will play catch or fly a kite.  I’m looking out my window as I type this imagining if me, my wife and our fifteen-month-old little boy, along with all of the families in my neighborhood, had to put up makeshift tents of bed sheets and plastic and live in that common area while our homes lay in ruin around us.  This is what I saw in Haiti.  I saw an entire city of families sleeping on the ground with little to no protection from the intense heat or the rainy season that starts this week.  Jesus said we were to love our neighbors as ourselves.  I am to love those families in those tents in Haiti as if they were mine, to love those children as if they were my children.  As a dad and husband it is bringing tears to my eyes now as I imagine my wife Megan and my son Montgomery living like that.

With all due respect I fear Americans can not grasp what has happened there.  God forbid if a disaster like this actually happened in Nashville, and I lost everything, I could take my family to another state and start over.  I have family in other states that could take us in during the few months it would take for the front-end loaders, backhoes, wrecking balls and dump trucks to haul off the remains so we could rebuild.  In Haiti they have nowhere to go.   They are on an island.  Haiti is about the size of Maryland.  Next door is the Dominican Republic, which is not much larger, and a different culture and language altogether.  It is unlike any disaster we in the States have every experienced. In Haiti I watched as men with sledgehammers hacked away at buildings half brought down by the quake, endangering their lives and those that walk the streets around them.  In Haiti I saw men moving mountains of rubble from the collapse of a four-story school building with shovels and wheelbarrows.  This will take years.  How long will they have to sleep on the ground?  Where will they work?  What will the children do?  No homes, no offices, no stores, no schools.  How can we as spoiled Americans who can find something to complain about in every luxury we have begin to grasp what has happened in Haiti.  How can we as Christians who spend more money on our church buildings than we do on helping the poor love the Haitians as we love ourselves?

I spent one of my afternoons in Bellevue La Montagne, Haiti.  FH has recognized this mountain community as a place that will not receive the needed attention because of their distance from the city.  They are doing what they can to help the least of these.  I stood in a tent with about thirty children as we took turns singing songs to one another.  Outside of that tent their parents were trying to rebuild their lives.  Their church was four walls of sheet metal leaning against a frame of sticks with a plastic tarp for a roof.  Their homes were walls of bed sheets and plastic held up by twigs.  They were finishing up a stick frame wrapped in plastic around a hole in the ground to replace their bathroom that was destroyed in the quake.

We were asked if we wanted to visit their water source and help bring some water back.  We walked for about thirty minutes down a rocky narrow path to a place where about twenty people were trying to fill their buckets from a pipe sticking out of the mountain five feet from the ground.  I watched for twenty minutes or so as the water, the amount that would come out of your outdoor water spigot, slowly filled their buckets.  They pushed and shoved vying for position to obtain their share of the water produced by this “spigot” that was shared by a community of 600 families.  I had passed a little boy on the way down to the water source.  He was five years old at the most.  I noticed him down at the water source again just sitting off to the side picking up rocks.  The realization that he could not compete with the adults pushing and shoving for water broke my heart.  He sat there for an hour waiting for a chance to complete his chore.  I took his jug to the spigot and filled it for him as well as my bucket.  I handed him his water and started my walk back to the children’s school tent.

The long walk down the rocky path to the water source was now a longer walk up the mountain in nearly 100-degree weather carrying a four to five gallon bucket of water.  As the sweat poured and my legs and arms ached, I starting to cry for that little boy who has to do this everyday.  I have five sinks in my house.  There, six hundred families share one spigot of contaminated water.

When we got back to the school I sat in the shade next to my bucket of water and tried to catch my breath while processing my experience.  After about fifteen minutes the little boy I had helped made his way by me carrying his jug of water.  I pointed him out to an FH worker and was told he had another hour to walk before reaching his home.  That five-year-old little boy spent four hours that day doing work that would exhaust any adult I know, to fetch less water than we use when we flush our toilets.

FH is committed to change the future of this little boy and thousands of others like him.  I am committed as well.  I plan to increase my efforts to find sponsors for children in these areas.  In the last two months I have been able to find sponsors for 350 children in Haiti and other parts of the world.  Those 350 children are my sons and daughters.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  I have thousands more who need help.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  If it was Montgomery who needed help and had no voice to ask for it himself I pray someone would speak up on his behalf.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  I can’t physically hand a jug of water to every child who needs it, but I have a voice and an audience, and I will speak up for those who can’t speak to you themselves and say, “Love them as much as you love yourself”.

There are families who have lost everything and are sleeping on the ground tonight.  There is a little boy who is unable to go to school today and learn a way to change his future.  He is five years old and labors all day in the sun for a little water.  If this were your family and your son, would you fight for them?  Love your neighbor as yourself.

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First night upon arriving in Haiti that I’m unable to drift off to sleep.   Lying awake here in sweltering humidity and heat, listening to the downpour of rain slow down to a trickle, the continual whir of the fan… while random thoughts keep flooding my mind.  Strangely, Haiti reminds me so much of Africa that I keep forgetting where I am.   It’s not just me – a number of my colleagues have also made similar comparisons between Haiti and parts of Africa.

Speaking with Haitians, I keep sensing this deep loss, grief, and constant worry lingering beneath the surface of their strong facades (facades that allow them to function day to day).  Haitians know the earthquake incident was tragic, but they are only too aware that life must also go on.  Even upcoming joys have now become bittersweet – one of our drivers will be having his first baby in the next few months and yet he and his wife are currently still living in a tent on the streets.  When he speaks about his coming child, his excitement about the baby is clearly dampened by worries of how his family will live once the baby is born.  People’s eyes still immediately glisten with tears at the mere mention of January 12 … I’ve had to watch so many people try all too hard to hold themselves together when you can clearly see the tears threatening to spill out.

The majority of the city still doesn’t have electricity and after 7:30 pm, much of the city becomes completely pitch dark.  Older married men have been taking advantage of the cover of darkness to approach teenage girls for sex, offering food and everyday necessities that girls may lack.  Some women now live under nothing but sheets and sticks, offering little to no protection from men who choose to steal sexual pleasures from them in the dead of the night.

One of the reasons I love working with children as much as I do is because of their hope and resilience.  Not all children will find it immediately, but when they do, their slices of hope and joy amidst suffering and ability to infectiously spread this to those around them… well, I find this to be more beautiful than anything I can possibly imagine.

-Deborah Tsuchida
Gender-based Violence Advisor
FH Haiti

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Rev. Kenneth Brown, Food for the Hungry’s Trauma Recovery Coordinator, is helping Haitians set up “child friendly spaces” in response to the January 12, 2010 earthquake that devastated Port au Prince. This report was filmed by Marvin Orellana and  Peter Clark.

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I have wept for Haiti.

Not only in seeing the destruction, sorrow and pain that a nation is suffering through but also in the hope, resilience and joy that a people are raising up. My most memorable time here was during a worship session that brought together our staff, church partners and a medical team. As we lifted up our voices in four different languages, filling the air with “How Great Thou Art” I envisioned God looking down with Fatherly Pride on His Children. It was during these times that the true reason for why we are here, both as Food for the Hungry and as individuals, became unquestionably apparent. Redemption. We are here – we are called – to bring restoration to relationships. God has called us to live a life in reflection of Him – so that in all things we can point to Him. Programs, fundraising and the never-ending meetings are at a loss if redemption is not the goal. And I believe wholeheartedly that FH strives to make this happen. I will be leaving here at the end of the week and I will, without a doubt, leave a part of my heart. While I am sad to be departing, I am confident of this – that FH, our staff and our many volunteers have accomplished a great thing in building and restoring relationships, not only with one another but with their families, friends and with our beneficiaries. May God continue to bring beauty from the ashes and strength from fear.

Shawnee Rae Ziegler

Serving in Haiti

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I’ve always acknowledged that my first encounter with poverty became transformative, not because I resided within its confines for a period of time, but because of movement in and out of it. In the Summer of 2004 I spent 9 weeks working in rural South Africa, at the base of the majestic Drakensburg Mountains. I was 19 years old and only knew that I had much to give and share to a world that I had heard was broken and in want. At that point, my only offer was love, a smile, and my hands and feet. In no way was my first experience in South Africa one that I ate, slept, and breathed the world of poverty. I would have passing brushes, drive-bys, and faint whiffs of its potency, but always followed by an escape, to a sanctuary a typical vacationer would pay thousands of dollars to stay in for its unique and rare seclusion, beauty and solace. I stayed in a wonderful cottage on top of a mountain, with a panoramic view of the beginning of the Drakensburg, and no civilization in sight. We had fresh goat cheese, and woke up to the song of birds everyday. It was a mountain paradise by all means.

But that was only where I lived. I worked in a Zulu town called Loskop, helping repair and build up a facility for it to become an orphanage. I worked along side a “brother”, also 19 years old, but from contrasting world.  Through our weeks of life comparison, my world was torn apart. We would share many stories, delight in our similarities, discuss our differences. One day I saw where he lived… a mud hut much like everyone else in Loskop. No mattress. One room shared by the whole family. Little food. And then I went back to my home, a beautiful chalet of peace and tranquility, privacy and plenty.

I ascribe my life-changing experience in South Africa to this World of Contrasts, which I traveled between. It continues to form my worldview, and instruct my life passions.

So why am I telling you about my time in South Africa six years ago, when I’m supposed to be reporting on Haiti in 2010? Because I’m living in that life of contrasts once again. I call it a curse not because it is not welcomed – I acknowledge that this paradigm is inherent with the world of relief and development – but because it conflicts everything that your mind rationalizes, with what your soul feels. It’s brutal.

Myself and a colleague were on the way back from visiting a site WAY up in the mountains (Bellevue La Montagne) and were talking with our amazing driver Odines. You can see his story here.

He told us that he was in his car when the earthquake hit, shaking back and forth. Once the quake subsided and he figured out what happened, he parked his car and ran to help people out of the rubble. Then he drove us to where his car is parked now, and told us that he and his friends sleep next to it at night. On the street. Odines is one of our best workers. He has completely managed successful distributions on his own, when many organizations are still struggling to perform such a feat. He acts as a translator, a driver, and a coordinator, while also helping his family and friends deal with their quake-impacted needs. But he has yet to find a home, and 3 weeks after the soil and soul of Haiti shook, he remains, like thousands of other Haitians, on the street. And I in a structurally sound, hill-side guest house with a cook, intermittent internet, and a roof. The other night, we held a small dinner gathering for our friends that were departing the next day, in a Swiss chalet-styled hotel. It was beautiful, great food for $15-30 a plate, and just a pleasant place. Directly outside this Hotel, where the cars are parked along the road, is a park. And in that park is now an Internally Displaced Peoples (IDP) camp of several thousands of people. An IDP camp, across the street from a 4-star hotel. Can there be more of a contrast? Such an experience is what should compel us to service, sacrifice and devotion to a God whose purposes we trust will work through these contrasts. We are fortunate that the people of Haiti have such strong Faith, to believe in this.

Feel free to check out a couple more videos below, visit www.fh.org/haiti and if you are so social-media savvy, follow us on Twitter.

David Curtis
FH City Initiatives Coordinator
Haiti Logistics Coordinator

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Not Abandoned

I have heard it said that faith is for the weak…that faith is for those who are not strong enough to bear the hardships they face without hope in a God and eternity beyond the troubles of this world. As much as this statement angers me (being a person of faith who does not want to consider myself as weak), I have to admit that this is true. Faith is for the weak. I am weak.

However, in my brief two weeks in Port Au Prince, and seeing and hearing about the many communities and lives destroyed within a few moments, I have a hard time believing that there is anyone in the world who is not weak. We are all weak.

The Haitian people that I have had a privilege to meet have shown me that faith is for people who have recognized their weakness and found strength in the only place where true and enduring strength can be found.

Yesterday, a group of us attended church with Dr. Marlene, FH Haiti’s Health Director. While the church building is still intact, in order to ease fears of church members who are fearful of another major quake hitting, the congregation is meeting outside under a large tarp. As the service was underway, I found myself humbled by the messages of hope that filled the two hour service. One church member, Villaire, sang a song he wrote based off of Psalm 46. “God is our refuge and strength…therefore we will not fear though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea…” I have heard this scripture multiple times, but it certainly took on a new meaning as I considered the people around me, including Marlene, who lost family members and homes in the earthquake. The Pastor also preached a message of hope in the midst of despair. He read from Lamentations 3:22-23, “Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; GREAT is Your faithfulness.” He preached on how trusting in God’s faithfulness is not natural when you see the destruction and despair facing Haiti, but that our hope does not depend on what we see around us…our hope is in the God who will never abandon us, even in the midst of circumstances that do not make sense. As he preached, I wondered where my faith would be if I found myself in the same circumstance as the people around me. Would I trust that God hadn’t abandoned me if I had lost everything? Would I have enough strength to look beyond myself and my own hardships to rise up to help others in need as I have seen the Haitian people do?

Tomorrow I board a flight and head back to the comforts of my home in Washington D.C. In the chaos of the past two weeks I have not had time to process all that I have seen and heard and experienced, but one lesson I hope to never forget is what was taught at the congregation meeting under a tarp in Delmas 33 yesterday afternoon. In the midst of hardships and trials, “Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions NEVER fail.” God never abandons those who trust in Him.

Leena Samuel
Program Officer, ERU

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Before I left for Haiti, I was reading a book called Connected, by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler.  These researchers have worked on scientific studies showing that happiness, cigarettes cessation, obesity, getting health services (e.g. flu shots) and a lot of other phenomenon spread through social networks — in a measurable way and usually up to three degrees of influence.  They say, “If we are connected to everyone else by six degrees, and we can influence them up to three degrees, then one way to think about ourselves is that each of us can reach about halfway to everyone else on the planet.”  And these are hardcore researchers who publish in the New England Journal of Medicine saying this, not some New Age thinkers.  Concerning that “three degrees of influence,” these researchers are saying that you affect not just your friends, but your friends’ friends, AND your friends’ friends’ friends — in a measurable way.  Who we are and what we do in the world is “highly contagious”.  That three degrees of influence seems to hold true for most of the things that they have studied.

Now I have seen two ways in which those facts are important for Haiti.  One is that I have seen so many ways in which this web of people who love Haiti and are connected to Haiti have influenced others that they know to love Haiti and respond.  And those people have influenced others that they know and so on.  It has been so heartening to me to see such an outpouring of love from so many people around the world.  This disaster is a very ugly thing, but the way in which the vast majority of people have responded is a very lovely thing.

For example, my teenage daughter talked to her boyfriend, and he talked to his boss, and his boss held a fundraiser at the NC barbeque restaurant that he owned which raised money for FH to respond in Haiti.  My sister-in-law Monica talked to her friend Mark, and Mark talked to his wife Sue about FH, and she held an auction-type fundraiser where people brought in things that they made or cooked to sell.  They raised over $1,200 and her company (another link) may match their giving.  The authors of Connected have a section of the book where they talk about how these social networks make us behave at times like a flock of birds or an ant hill — one integrated system, made of individuals but that increasingly looks like one “super-organism.”  Emotions sweep through the network.  Behaviors sweep through the network.  We sometimes behave more like cells in this super-organism than anything else.  I found it quite fascinating, and it makes me reflect on the meaning of “the Body of Christ” in a very real way.  People who love Haiti and others who know them are definitely behaving as one super-organism now – being the Body of Christ – in this disaster.  And that’s a very lovely thing.  If you are reading this, you are part of that lovely thing, too.

Secondly, this connectedness is important because people working here – our national and international staff – can help set the tone.  We can all be “salt and light,” and create an epidemic of hope.  The attitudes we show (e.g., joy, hope) and the things that we do (e.g., taking time to ask someone how it is with their family) as we work here can have a huge ripple effect through the society – at least up to three degrees.  It is true that sometimes “our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate; our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”  We have sometimes been schooled to think that what will make the difference in Haiti will be material inputs.  But it will take a lot more than that to bring Haiti out of this.  The Good News is that those other things – long-term commitment, courage, hope, peacefulness – are transmitted from person to person.  Haitians are influencing people from other nations through their courage and faithfulness.  The huge worldwide response is giving Haitians hope that they can pull through this.  As C.S. Lewis has termed it, there’s a “good infection” happening here, and we need to keep it going.

One way FH is helping to keep this epidemic of hope is by working with local organizations and agencies, connecting them to donors and to each other, and that has been a large part of my (very “unsexy”) work here.  Pastor Molliere, the head of a Christian NGO that we work with in a mountain community here – has been documenting all of the families and churches affected by the disaster, counting and listing and observing like Nehemiah.  I met with him and we are connecting his communities to US government agencies through a project plan that we wrote.  Within that area, we will be asking people to form groups of ten households, with each 10-block choosing a volunteer leader who will meet with nine other leaders in a “Cascade Group.”  Our staff will meet with these groups to get life-saving information out to every household in that district – how to avoid disease (e.g., water purification), and how to access tents, food, water and services that we will bring to that area, as well as existing services that Haitians have in place.  The new social ties created through these groups will allow for information to flow back to project staff about emerging needs in each area, satisfaction with current services, and help us to work out the kinks in the system.  But most importantly, I believe, is that these “ties that bind” will also allow for the hope for the future to spread throughout the entire local network and beyond.  Let’s keep this lovely thing alive.

Tom Davis
FH Director of Health Programs

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The streets are covered with dust. Collapsed buildings, re-bar jutting into the air, piles of crushed buildings giving constant testament to the shake that made them fall. The tremblement de terre, or 7.0 earthquake, that struck Haiti at 4:53pm on Jan 12th, has left Haiti devastated. People walk the streets now with their faces covered by masks, guarding against the overwhelming smell of decomposing bodies, entombed in shattered structures.

And now, in the open spaces, the middle of roads, yards, parking lots and fields, thousands upon thousands of people are living outside; under sheets held up by sticks, either terrified to sleep inside, or homeless from the quake. An entire city displaced. An entire city leveled.

The estimates of how many were killed by the earthquake are still just estimates; tens of thousands, maybe a hundred thousand. The effects of these deaths are everywhere. Yesterday a woman named Merline wept as she explained how her husband was killed by the earthquake, has two children to care for, has taken in two other orphans, and is eight months pregnant. She stood in the middle of what people are calling “tent city”, holding a child with one hand and her pregnant stomach with the other, repeating her story over and over. Her trauma had frozen her in the moment of her greatest loss. Silent tears poured down her face. She has nothing, and has nowhere to go. She is scared and alone, and fears for the future of the children she loves.

People’s access to water, food and medical care is desperate. Everyday hospitals are overwhelmed, everyday people are waiting for hours in lines for water, only to pay way more than they can afford. Yesterday two men fought each other over a single bottle of water.

But help is coming, and some is here. Search and rescue teams are working ceaselessly to find survivors. Every day they are pulling people from the rubble. Today is the ninth day. A rescue worker from Los Angeles county said they have found survivors as long as 14 days after being buried. There is still time for life.

Food for the Hungry is on the ground providing emergency relief to the survivors. Today we will distribute much needed basics. But time is urgent and the need is enormous. Help us help our Haitian friends.

Lindsay Branham
FH Communications

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