Since a devastating earthquake destroyed much of Haiti on January 12, 2010, Samaritan’s Purse has worked to provide suffering people with programs to help them recover and live a better life.
In the four years since Haiti suffered a massive earthquake that caused widespread devastation to the already unstable country, Samaritan’s Purse has continued working with the local church to initiate projects beyond the initial disaster relief phase.GiveMany of these programs focus on maternal child health, pastoral leadership, preventing violence against women, microenterprise, agriculture, and preparing sites for reconstruction. Programs such as these are instrumental in the recovery of the Haitian people as they continue to move forward after the earthquake.
Tools and Training for Farmers
Grassalie Gede is one of the women farmers benefiting from our agriculture program and continually proves that women can work the soil just as well men. As one of 17 women in our agriculture program, she received 120 pounds of planting materials. Vegetables, plantains, coffee, cassava, beans, and corn are thriving in her garden.
“I have been gardening despite the limited resources I have, but this year, I am happy that I am able to plant more gardens with the help of Samaritan’s Purse,” she said.
Our agriculture program provides seeds, tools, and livestock to farmers. We assist in constructing vegetable gardens and training on animal husbandry. We are also focusing on building the capacity of women farmers.
In addition to planting, Grassalie raises pigs, cows, goats, and other farm animals. We gave her two goats, along with technical and spiritual support. Offering these tools and training helps farmers like Grassalie provide for their families and oftentimes earn income for their children’s school fees and other needs.
“I thank Samaritan’s Purse for this project and especially for thinking of the women,” Grassalie said. “I pray that you continue this type of activity throughout the country.”
Recycling Program Generates Income and Cleans Up Communities
Samaritan’s Purse is also helping Haitians generate income through our recycling program, Ramase Lajan, translated as “picking up money.” The initiative works to improve sanitation and economic conditions in poor metropolitan communities. The project provides a solution to several major problems, in particular, the tons of plastic clogging the canals, which cause flooding and diseases.
Price Dadji Max Jean’s recycling center is part of Ramase Lajan. He takes pride in being part of the program because it enables him to share the Gospel, care for needy families, clean his neighborhood, and help build the local economy.
The program also provides income to the community through informal job creation. Peddlers of all ages can exchange plastic and aluminum for cash on the spot, which is used to meet daily needs. Many children obtain lunch money by bringing recyclables to the centers before school.
Price is among several owners who operate franchises of Ramase Lajan. Each owner hires three to five other individuals. The center purchases recyclable materials at a set price from peddlers who collect it from the community. They then sell the materials to Haiti Recycling at a premium price.
Recently, Price’s community collected 63,976.5 pounds in one month, earning the peddlers approximately $4,530.
“I have earned more money at this job than I earned anywhere else,” Price said. “With the plastics, I’m able to take better care of my family, pay my household fees, and my children’s school fees.”
Ramase Lajan currently operates 17 centers in 13 communities. More than 3 million pounds of recyclables have been collected since program’s inception.
Cite Soleil Medical Clinic
Medical care in Haiti has also seen drastic improvements through Samaritan’s Purse training and support. Our programs have equipped local doctors to provide life-saving assistance to many Haitian people.
On a Thursday morning at the end of August, an 11-year-old girl, Roline, arrived at our medical clinic in Cite Soleil looking critically ill. She was complaining of abdominal pain for three days and had a fever. Because she looked so sick, she was brought to the treatment room right away, and one of the physicians, Dr. Quency, was notified. She was immediately given an IV and medications. Dr. Quency suspected that she might have appendicitis. He and other doctors had just completed ultrasound training, so he performed an abdominal ultrasound at the bedside with the help of two other physicians. It confirmed what the doctors suspected; Roline had appendicitis. She was transferred to a local hospital that day and eventually had surgery.
Over the weekend, a Samaritan’s Purse maternal child health trainer, Edeline, visited Roline and her mother at the hospital. Roline’s mother expressed thanks for the clinic and the staff. She told Edeline that people in her community had encouraged her to take her daughter to a witch doctor because they thought her illness was due to a poison. If Roline had been brought to the witch doctor, the delay in treatment may have resulted in her death.
Cases such as Roline’s demonstrate the need for quality medical care, education, and spiritual awakening in Cité Soleil. Patients often turn to voodoo instead of medical care when illnesses arise. Not only is this a cultural practice, but witch doctors are also often much easier to find than medical doctors. The Cité Soleil clinic not only provides an alternative to voodoo practice that is so common in Haiti and Cité Soleil, but it also offers a unique opportunity to share God’s love while caring for patients.
Stopping Violence Against Women
Another initiative Samaritan’s Purse has implemented is the gender-based violence program, an issue many Haitians didn’t know about until they began attending classes.
When we first approached Pastor Marc Jean Paul with the idea of teaching his congregation in Haiti about gender-based violence, he refused. He said he didn’t know anything about it.
“It was not something that I preached about in church because I had not studied what the Bible said about gender-based violence issues and how to help people who are survivors of assault and sexual abuse,” he explained.
However, after attending training by Samaritan’s Purse staff, he became an important advocate for vulnerable women and children. He started to partner with other pastors to raise awareness and equip the church to respond to the issue of abuse against women. Along with our staff, they organized a two-day conference, bringing together 600 women from seven area villages, plus members of another village who listened via radio broadcast.
The training addressed not only the physical issues of gender-based violence but also the spiritual, economical, and social aspects. Vulnerable women have now been able to attend literacy and business classes, and some received loans to start their own businesses—enabling them to take financial responsibility for themselves and their children rather than being forced to rely on potentially abusive men for support.
Pastor Marc Jean Paul said his church is now ready to respond to the needs of those who have suffered abuse, and they have already received some reports of instances of violence.“[We] are now able to bring some resolution to their situation and know where to refer them for legal help,” Pastor Marc Jean Paul said. “We have also established a counseling committee in the church to help those specifically dealing with GBV.”
Pastor Marc Jean Paul testified that he is seeing a shift in people’s perception of the church as a result of its involvement with combating gender-based violence, thanks to our staff working to raise awareness about the issue.
“People in the church and in the community now see the church as a resource to come to when they are faced with GBV,” he said. “They know that the church will help them by equipping them with training and good materials so that they can become independent and once again play a positive role in their society.”
Greta Home and Academy
The Greta Home and Academy is an orphanage and school constructed and supported by Samaritan’s Purse. Recently, 71 orphaned or abandoned children completed their first year of classes surrounded by a staff of caring believers. In addition, 50 needy children from the community have been integrated into the school for the 2013-14 academic year.
“The target that we have for them is to help them grow as Christian leaders,” said Michael, an Academy teacher. “So they might do activities in church or even in the government, or even become a lawyer or someone, but always people who work to honor God and to praise the name of God.”
Continuing the Road to Recovery
We have reached more than 1 million Haitians through our relief and recovery efforts, but the needs are still great. Haiti remains the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and Samaritan’s Purse continues to bring physical, emotional, and spiritual healing to these vulnerable people.
Please continue to pray for the Haitian people as they work to rebuild their lives in the years following the catastrophic earthquake in 2010.