It is during times such as these that we learn what it truly means to live in faith, hope, and love.
Week of Compassion’s partner agencies on the ground in Haiti and across the border in the Dominican Republic are responding to the crisis. Your generous gifts are making a significant difference in the relief efforts. There are challenges, but there have also been fantastic accomplishments in the immediate aid efforts in Haiti. We will keep you updated in a variety of ways, including our Haiti Relief Efforts page -- please check it often for updates, resources, photos and stories. We want to know what your church is doing to help us respond to the tragedy, so please send us your updates, too.
- Don Tatlock, a Church World Service responder and member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), reports that much of the initial response has involved searching and identifying survivors. Sanitation and security issues have pushed many people from Port-au-Prince into rural areas, as well as toward the border with the Dominican Republic. Such migration is making it difficult, at times, to verify the survival of some local partners and colleagues.
Travel logistics continue to be very complicated, as the road running from the Dominican border to Port-au-Prince, already difficult to travel, is even more overwhelmed than usual. In order to ease the flow of aid, the United Nations is currently working to organize air transport for Aid Groups in order to transfer supplies and Aid personnel between the border and Port-au-Prince, as well as transporting supplies from Port-au-Prince to outlying areas affected by the quake, many of whom have received no aid.
- Our partners at Action by Churches Together (ACT International) have a rapid response team on the ground. Social Services of the Dominican Churches (SSID) is providing staff support, office space, and logistical support to ecumenical responders. The response will not only include relief in Port-au-Prince and rural areas affected by the earthquake, but as displaced persons may soon migrate toward the Dominican border, the response may well include providing services to meet their needs. More details are available here.
- Additionally, Haitians in America currently facing deportation have received Temporary Protected Status for 18 Months, as well as the potential for Haitian refugee resettlement. Florida and New York, two states with significant Haitian populations, are gearing up for both repatriation and the extension of stay for those under Temporary Protected Status. The ACT appeal will include funds for repatriation aid and assistance.
- Church World Service has thus far concentrated its efforts on helping distribute its disaster response kits, so Disciples Churches should keep those donations coming! CWS is also helping to support local partners that meet the needs of children by providing baby and hygiene kits and other support. For more details, please follow this link.
Pray-Pay-Stay: Responding as a Congregation, Region, or Individual:
We have received so many notes from across the country, detailing the ways you have all given and responded.
The needs have not changed drastically. The need for CWS baby and hygiene kits is ongoing, as is the need for donations of blankets to Church World Service for emergency response, as detailed here.
We also continue to field questions about the need for on the ground volunteers. The needs on the ground require very specific skill-sets, and there is absolutely no system of support for individuals or church volunteer groups at this time.
The US Department of Health and Human Services is requesting the aid of some medical professionals through the medical reserve corps. There is a credentialing process, and again, the needs and requested qualifications, including fluency in French or Creole, are quite specific. However, HHS also encourages interested medical professionals to seek credentials, as this buoys their roster in the event of other needs for disaster response. Those with requisite skills can seek credentials here.
Except for this specific instance, it is not time for volunteering in Haiti. Once our partners alert us to opportunities, we will pass that information along.
For the time being, we ask you to be creative, resourceful, and discerning. Please check out the great things being done by Disciples Churches, worship resources, and other opportunities available on our Haiti page. If nothing else, remember that we have many Haitian Disciple Churches here in the United States. Pray for them. Send a card of support their way. If they are in your community, organize with your church a time of fellowship and support with our fellow Disciples.
In the midst of this terrible disaster, we have seen great things from you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Keep up the amazing work, and let us know how we can be supportive.