Hurricane Matthew hammered Haiti as a Category 4 storm in the early-morning hours of Oct. 4, 2016, leaving widespread damage in a nation that was still trying to rebuild itself after the 2010 earthquake. The hurricane left behind a path of destruction on the southern peninsula, on the island of La Gonave and the lower Northwest department. Schools, houses, churches, latrines, and other buildings were damaged or destroyed; crops were ruined; trees were uprooted; animals died; and hundreds of human lives were lost.
Within the first couple of weeks after the storm, Week of Compassion worked with Global Ministries and Church World Service partners in places where they were already positioned to provide immediate emergency food and water to many communities. As the long-term rebuilding of homes and schools began and children began returning to school, concern shifted to the restoration of the agricultural economy.
Most Haitians are farmers. The economy is heavily dependent on crops as a major source of revenue to support families and communities. With 90% of crops ruined by the storm, restoring the local livelihood is essential.
Even though crops were wiped out, people were determined to start over again. With the community working together, local farmers were able to clear out damaged crops in preparation for the new harvest. All they needed were some good seeds.
Week of Compassion's partners provided those seeds. Mules and donkeys transported everything through rough terrains and up the mountain to deliver lima beans, corn, banana, and manioc. People came to pick up the seeds, full of hope and joy because this meant they could replant before the rainy season. One of the recipients, Mercidieu Josphat, shared, "It is a miracle. This is the first aid that arrived since the hurricane passed." His people already had everything in place that they needed to rebuild: land, soil, and people. They were only missing seeds to grow, and with the seeds, they could begin using the land to support their family and community again. Within a month after the new seeds were planted, the rain came.
Today, many crops are beginning to bear fruit, and soon the farmers will begin harvesting. Your support to Week of Compassion enables us to provide seeds of hope for communities in need. This is just the beginning of this journey. There is still much work left to be done. Your partnership and generosity allows us to walk alongside the people of Haiti after Hurricane Matthew. You Are Here with the community for the long term. Thanks to you and thanks be to God!
Using the Special Offering Resources
For Adult Discussion Groups:
Discuss as a group what comes to mind when you think of Haiti. What phrases and images do you think of?
Watch the video "Hope After Hope."
The video highlights a co-op that provides low-interest loans for medical expenses, agricultural improvements, and entrepreneurial projects. This model gives decision-making power to the local community and emphasizes dignity for those who receive loans. With that emphasis in mind, how did your images and words compare to the story presented in the video?
What did you find hopeful about the story in the video?
Where did you see Christ? Where did you see the church? Where did you see yourself?
For Use With Children:
Materials--vegetable seeds, small paper cups, soil, water
Watch the video "Hope After Hope."
Together, find Haiti on a world map. Talk about how a storm destroyed Fortilus's crops and how the whole community helped him get new seeds to replant his farm. Discuss together: "I wonder how Fortilus felt when he lost his crops." and "I wonder how he felt when the community helped him plant new seeds."
Have children help each other fill cups with soil and plant their seeds.
As the children plant their seeds, read together Matthew 25:31-45. Talk about how Jesus tells us to help people who are hungry. As a church we do that in many ways. One way is through the Week of Compassion offering.