October 2016: Hurricane Matthew Devastates Southwestern Haiti
Hurricane Matthew caused massive destruction throughout Southern Haiti the week of October 2nd, 2016. Walls crumbled, roofs gone, whole villages and their occupants missing. With their livestock dead or missing, drastically reduced availability of clean water, spreading cholera, 100% crop loss and thousands of acres of trees downed or denuded, including the fruit trees which provide food for so many families, the needs of the people were overwhelming.
Etienne Francois, our point person in Haiti, and his Passion for Haiti colleagues worked non-stop for months leading relief and recovery efforts, collaborating with other charities, sourcing, directing, and delivering emergency assistance to the people most affected by the hurricane. Emergency food, water, medicine, shelter were the most urgent needs at first, followed later by recovery assistance including seeds and farm tools, replacement livestock, metal roofing, and other building materials.
After raising the funds to clear rubble, rebuild walls, purchase materials, and hire local builders, a work team including Compassion for Haiti volunteers and members from two Lake Oswego, OR church congregations went to Haiti in February to help put a new roof over 10 classrooms at the Les Anglais school with which we have a long-standing relationship. Check our Facebook page for some of the great photos they brought back to share with us. (feed and links to the right on this page). During their time there, Etienne showed up with an armload of just-picked vegetables from the first harvest of crops planted after the hurricane. So wonderful that fresh food is starting to become available!
Al Jazeera published a beautiful photo essay by one of the team members, Alex McDougall. You can see it here – Haiti: Recovery and Resilience After Hurricane Matthew.
After the months of relief work, Etienne and his team kept very busy through 2017 distributing goats and other livestock, seed, and metal roof panels to communities throughout the south including remote mountain communities like Colse, Boco, and Bwa Pikon. Then they began the transition to longer-term recovery and growth projects such as expanding the garden on the Les Anglais church property and restarting the cacao project that holds great promise for providing food and income security for thousands of families while also reforesting mountainsides to stabilize the soil and decrease flooding.