How Holt’s staff in Haiti is using your donations to help children in orphanage care, as well as single mothers, their children and their families to recover and rebuild.
The worst humanitarian crisis to strike Haiti since the country’s devastating earthquake on January 12, 2010.
That is how the United Nations described the impact of Hurricane Matthew, a category-5 tropical cyclone that ravaged the southern coast of Haiti in early October 2016.
As torrential rain and 145-mile-per-hour winds downed communications systems, we lost all internet contact with our staff in Port-au-Prince. Two days later, we received a very brief email from our country director: “Lots damaged. I am in tears. We need donations and volunteers.”
In the aftermath of the hurricane, we were relieved to hear that the children and families in our programs were safe. But the destruction to homes and orphanages left them more vulnerable than ever and immediately, we began collecting donations from our supporters — raising over $40,000 to help repair the damage.
After meeting immediate needs of food, water and temporary shelter, our staff in Haiti began to assess the damage, identify families and children in greatest need and coordinate resources and logistics to begin reconstruction. On Christmas Eve, Holt staff and volunteers headed south to the community of Bigarousse, working through Christmas to repair the roof of a school building and crèche, or care center, home to 72 children, ages 2-16.
“We spent Christmas eve and day working hard to make sure that children of the community of Bigarousse can continue their education after the holidays and during 2017,” our staff shared in a recent report.
With homes damaged, small businesses flooded and crops destroyed, several of the single mothers and children in our family strengthening and sponsorship program also needed urgent help to rebuild their lives.
“After the passage of Hurricane Matthew, we had many problems. Our cattle had disappeared. The roof of our home had also been taken away by the winds,” wrote Gessica Gustave, one of the women enrolled in the program. “Indeed thanks to the assistance program of Holt […] I became the beneficiary of donations of plantlets, 3 goats and the roof of our home was rebuilt.”
In total, four families received new roofs, as well as seeds to grow new crops and goats to replace lost livestock. After Hurricane Matthew, the crèche in Bigarousse also had nothing left of their crops, which grew beans, eggplants and spinach to add critical nutrients to the children’s meals. Using funds raised by Holt supporters, Holt replenished the crèche garden with seeds, plants and six goats.
“They are very appreciative of the assistance Holt is offering to them and their family,” writes Beverly Sanon, Holt’s in-country director, of the women who received hurricane relief. “They told me in so many ways that they have never had so much help and encouragement in their life and thank God every day for Holt staff in Haiti and in Oregon.”
In fact, all of the women wrote thank you letters to the donors and staff who have helped them rebuild their homes and lives.
“I want to express enormous appreciation to all of the staffs and the supporters of the programs and may God in his kindness continue to provide you with his blessings,” wrote Gessica Gustave, a mother of two children who is learning stock management as part of the single mothers’ empowerment program that Holt supports in her community.
“A great deal of appreciation for every single thing you work together to provide for us and help young mothers,” wrote a woman named Daphnée St Hilaire, who is receiving professional training to become a bank teller so as to better support her son. “Thank you for all the things I have received: the plantains, corn, mangoes. Thanks for all of these. With God’s help, I wish you to keep on with the beautiful work you are doing.”
“Thank you… because I have received 3 goats, I have also received plants, seedlings for corn, sorghum, beans, (plantlets for) plantains, cabbages, oranges, mangoes, hot and sweet peppers,” wrote Phanièse Toussaint, who is gaining skills to help support her daughter and family as part of the program. “I wish that the Lord keeps on blessing you.”
“A big thank you… that the roof of my house was rebuilt, thank you for goats, seedlings, for vegetables, sorghum and corn. Thank you for the possibility of sending me to a professional school to learn,” wrote Daphney St Clou, who is learning to install windows to better support her son and the seven other family members who depend on her. “Thank you, thank you. I wish the Lord is going to bless you every day.”
As part of the recovery effort, Holt coordinated with SAFPE, a local organization, to provide a health and hygiene training to prevent the spread of cholera, which has experienced a resurgence in the country since the hurricane. Using available resources, Holt’s staff in Haiti also repaired roofs for several family members of the women in our single mothers’ empowerment program — providing safe housing for even more families and children in this community.