Through the largest global alliance of Christian humanitarian agencies, Action by Churches Together (ACT), Week of Compassion is already on the ground in Haiti. Your generous gifts and offerings are already at work. In the chaos of aid distribution, ACT Alliance members, including Church World Service (CWS), are managing to get food, temporary shelter, water cleaning materials and expertise to the Haitian capital.
Prospery Raymond, country manager for ACT member Christian Aid, reports he is concerned there may not otherwise be enough food in the country to last more than a few days. The streets are still thronged with homeless people, walking for hours to find food and water. As well as widespread destruction of homes, schools and other buildings, major damage has been done to key water, electricity and road systems. Port-au-Prince's heavily congested airport is finally allowing some aid to get through.
Proud to be part of one of the largest alliances working on relief in Haiti, Week of Compassion is grateful for our partners in the ACT Alliance. Currently, there are four member church agencies working in-country:
- Christian Aid reports it has started distributing food and tents, hygiene kits, blankets, jerry cans and water purifiers to 15,000 people in eight communities, targeting areas getting little help from other agencies. It has also sent in a medical team through a specialist healthcare organization. CA hopes to source food from markets in Haiti if possible, but all other items will definitely need to come in from outside. The team in Haiti is co-coordinating with colleagues in the Dominican Republic to source materials there where possible.
- Lutheran World Federation is constructing a camp for ACT members at its compound, with additional space for member staff. Cooking facilities are provided, and Internet connection is good. Water supply is problematic. LWF plans to recruit supplementary staff.
- Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe has programmed delivery of 15 tons of food relief together with Caritas Germany.
- Lutheran World Relief plans to send a shipment of food products.
- Church World Service and Christian Aid offices are ready to serve as a base for receiving emergency items. ACT member staff in Santo Domingo is on the way to Haiti, including CWS staff member Don Tatlock.
- Norwegian Church Aid is prioritizing water sanitation equipment and psychosocial work. It has sent a team of water engineers, a communicator and a logistician. Two Norwegian advisors with expertise in gender and children's' protection are also going.
ACT members report that buildings remain very fragile and continue to collapse. Rain has compounded the situation of the million people without shelter. The border with the Dominican Republic remains insecure. Health risks of contagious diseases are getting serious. Other towns are also badly affected and many areas outside Port-au-Prince remain unexplored. A number of staff from ACT members in the country remain unaccounted for-we are still searching for them since the earthquake.
The United Nations has launched an appeal for $562 million intended to help three million people for six months. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon describes the situation as one of the worst humanitarian crises in decades and implored for calm in the beleaguered capital. The number of dead is still unknown, with estimates ranging from 50,000 to 200,000, the BBC reports.
In the midst of this horrific tragedy, we can be comforted knowing that we are doing something. We are already there, thanks to our amazing partnerships. We are not helpless. Together, we can do so much. God is there, too. Even in the rubble.
Let us keep the faith. Thank you for your courageous compassion at such a time as this.
- Amy Gopp