Helping Haiti

The Lutheran Church Missouri-Synod is doing good work in Haiti that is attracting attention.  This from WORLD MAGAZINE:

The LCMS has been in Haiti since the quake, providing for the immediate needs of the survivors: food, water, medical supplies and temporary shelter. They realize, however, that they were not doing enough to help with the sense of hopelessness in the people. After speaking with the Rev. Marky Kessa, president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Haiti, the organization leaders realized that the best way to help rebuild the survivors’ lives was to build permanent houses.

So with the help of the local church, the LCMS initiated its “Building Homes and Hope in Haiti” project by acquiring enough land to build three villages. Because of the confusion within the Haitian government, the group was unable to receive land grants, so the LCMS instead bought the land from its previous owners. The organization plans on building 300 houses, an orphanage, a school, a chapel, and a medical clinic in each of these villages.

In early April, a group of volunteers from Ohio and Missouri went to Haiti to build three model homes—one with a single room, a one-bedroom and a two-bedroom—to give the people in Haiti a chance to see what the houses will look like and to encourage donors at home to support the project.

The building process, which began this week, will take a three-pronged approach. First, local professional contractors will be hired to plan and direct the building, which will also help create jobs for local Haitians. Then there will be a call for volunteers from within the community. Finally, volunteers from the United States will be brought in to help build.

“The local people are really involved in their country and their lives,” Merritt said. “They don’t want mercy organizations coming in and taking over everything, they want a say in what happens, and are more than willing to volunteer and assist.”

via WORLD Magazine | Homes and hope | Angela Lu | May 20, 10.

This is the work of LCMS World Relief and Human Care.  The leader of this effort and the designer of this kind of effective ministry is not mentioned in the article, but it’s Rev. Matt Harrison.

HT: Mollie Hemingway

Religion and politics in Haiti

I am not for a minute condoning the Evangelical, Catholic, and Voodoo interfaith services, nor am I agreeing that Haiti’s earthquake was divine punishment against its government. But in the aftermath of the earthquake, it appears that Haitians are in a mood to cast off their notoriously corrupt government leaders:

Reeling from the earthquake that devastated their country one month ago, Haitians have turned to their vivid and sometimes quirky spiritual life in a search not only for consolation but also for an explanation of why such a catastrophe was visited upon them.

The depth and breadth of Haiti’s spirituality was put on display Friday, the first of three days of mourning decreed by the government of President René Préval. In the largest of many such gatherings, thousands of people gathered on the Champ de Mars, a broad esplanade in front of the collapsed National Palace, to pray, sing religious songs and listen to Roman Catholic, Protestant and voodoo preachers in a government-organized memorial service for the more than 200,000 killed.

“Everybody is praying together — Catholics, Protestants and voodoo believers,” said Joseph Ardouin Dubois, an evangelical Protestant who attended the service with his New Testament in hand. “There is only one God.”

But in the crowd pressing toward the stage, and among the nearby tents and plastic shelters where homeless families by the thousands have taken refuge, many blamed the Jan. 12 quake on the government, saying Haiti’s leadership was evil because it ignored spirituality and refused to grant a higher minimum wage to the poor.

The sentiments, freely expressed, suggested that political repercussions from the earthquake could extend beyond the immediate question of whether Préval and his government are effectively presiding over relief efforts.

“If this tragedy has befallen Haiti, it is because our leaders, our politicians, are not spiritual people,” said Pastor Vladimir Justal, 34, an evangelical minister who walked among the tents in a white linen suit. “They have no religion.”

“They are pagans, that’s what they are,” said a teenager standing nearby.

“Yes, that’s it,” Justal agreed. “We are going to ask God to give us spiritual men to lead us. Otherwise, we are heading for another catastrophe.”

Insider report on Haiti

I don’t know if you saw the comment from reader Kirk Anderson the other day, but he offers some good inside information on the situation in Haiti, especially as regards relief efforts:

I work in the international development field and I’ve been on the phone with NGO partners in Haiti for the past few days. The general impression that I get is that lawlessness isn’t quite as prevalent as we’re lead to believe by the news media. There is, of course, looting and acts of violence, but in general the situation relatively stable, crime wise. People keep telling me that the real issue is that trucks carrying food aid can’t get anywhere because they get mobbed as soon as they’re out of the gates. I’d guess that American troops will be keeping order around aid distribution points and escorting supply columns, so as to prevent rioting, etc. When I asked the people on the ground what their needs were, almost every single time I was told security for their supplies.

I also keep hearing that the security situation will improve as more supplies roll in. Right now, people are desperate. They need food and water, and they’re willing to go to great lengths to get them. Hopefully as the logistical situation is rectified, security will improve.

If any of you have additional information that you know about, especially from people you know over there, please report.

American troops to Haiti

The United States is sending 10,000 troops to Haiti to help with disaster relief. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says, however, that they will have no policing role:

The U.S. military expects to have around 10,000 troops in Haiti and in ships offshore by Monday for the massive relief effort.

Haitian President Rene Preval said on Sunday that U.S. troops will help U.N. peacekeepers keep order on Haiti's streets, where overstretched police and U.N. peacekeepers have been unable to provide full security.

In Port-au-Prince, the crippled capital, and environs U.S. troops protected food and water supplies being handed out as marauding looters emptied wrecked shops and tens of thousands of survivors waited desperately for food and medical care.

Gates told reporters on a flight to India there would be a security element to U.S. relief efforts, but added: “I haven't heard of us playing a policing role at any point.”

Asked about rules of engagement, he said “as anywhere we deploy our troops, they have the authority and the right to defend themselves.”

“And they also have the right to defend innocent Haitians and members of the international community if they see something happen,” he said.

But why don’t they have a policing role? Isn’t the restoration of order the first thing Haiti needs in order for the relief supplies pouring in to get to those who need it?

What America owes to Haiti

Pat Robertson callously brought up the old legend that Haiti owed its independence from the French to a pact with the devil. That story probably originated as an attempt to answer the question how could a group of slaves in revolt defeat the French army that had conquered virtually all of Europe? Americans, whose country owes so much–including maybe its very existence–to that slave revolt, should credit not the devil but the Other Side.

In 1801, Napoleon Bonaparte, having defeated pretty much every European power except for England, turned his attention to the New World. He sent an army of nearly 50,000 troops to New Orleans to begin an occupation of the French holdings in America west of the Mississippi. His goal was evidently colonization. But some scholars think the reason he sent an army was to attack the British in Canada. While the army might have made its way up the Mississippi and through the wilderness to Canada, an easier way, with a surer supply of provisions, would have been to march through the United States. In fact, if Napoleon wanted to add the new country–which didn’t even have a standing army–to his empire, there was not much to stop him. Americans were on the verge of panic, including President Jefferson, who, though a supporter of the French Revolution, did not know what to do with Napoleon.

On the way to New Orleans, though, Napoleon ordered the fleet to stop first at Haiti to put down the slave revolt. The slaves of that colony, which had earned France much revenue from sugar and coffee, had risen up around the same time as the French Revolution, assuming that “liberty, equality, and fraternity,” applied to them as well. Under the leadership of Toussaint L’Ouverture, the slaves won their freedom and established their own government. Napoleon resolved to crush it and put the slaves back into French service.

The vaunted French army, however, could not defeat the free Haitians! They faded away into the landscape, only to come back at night with their machetes, terrorizing the French soldiers. And then yellow fever struck. Napoleon sent reinforcements, but to no avail. Some 24,000 French soldiers died in Haiti.

With this, Napoleon gave up his American ambitions. Instead, he sold the French possessions in America to the United States, a transaction known as the Louisiana Purchase.

So if you are glad America’s independence was not snuffed out shortly after birth, and if you are glad you are not ruled by the French, and if you live in what used to be the Louisiana Purchase, thank the Haitians. You can do that by helping them in their hour of great need by giving here.

Horrors in Haiti

Just 750 miles from the U.S.A., the people of Haiti are enduring more horrors in the aftermath of the earthquake:

Tens of thousands of people are facing a second catastrophe tonight as they struggled for survival on the devastated island of Haiti.

With no food, no water and no shelter, aid agencies were in a desperate race against time to save the victims of the earthquake.  Witnesses described gutters running with blood and children sleeping among heaps of dead bodies after becoming separated from their parents.

Give by clicking here.

via Haiti earthquake: 16 Brits missing as horrifying new pictures reveal extent of destruction | Mail Online.

UPDATE: Now looting has broken out, and gangs of young men with machetes are fighting over food. See this. Local authority has ceased to exist. Disaster is followed by anarchy, which can be even worse.