Religious Leaders: Haiti Still In Crisis
CHICAGO -- Haiti is still in crisis. According to a July 30 situation report from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) the Caribbean nation has yet to move into the recovery phase, following the Jan. 12 earthquake that left 1.5 million people displaced from their homes.
More than 190,500 households are still living in camps, said Megan Bradfield, associate director for International Disaster Response, ELCA Global Mission. Bradfield, who prepared the report, said many of these camps are "highly vulnerable to storms and flooding." An estimated 250,000 people died as a result of the earthquake.
In response to some of Haiti's critical needs, "the ELCA has supported a multinational, multilateral response to the earthquake that includes the coordination of relief and development agencies through the Action by Churches Together (ACT) Alliance," said Bradfield. The ELCA has been a member of the ACT Alliance since 1995.
To date members of the ELCA have contributed more than $12.2 million in gifts to support disaster relief efforts in Haiti.
"The response by the ELCA and its members has been heartening. So too has been the clear commitment of the church to stay through the challenges to bring help for the long term," said the Rev. Daniel Rift, director, ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Appeal.
Rift said 100 percent of the "gifts given for response to the earthquake will be used for that purpose only, and we will stay with Haiti for as long as it takes."
"We have been attentive to support work in which we have confidence in its completion and for which resources from other organizations have not been available," said Rift.
"Frankly, we have been somewhat surprised by the challenges which are keeping many of the rebuilding efforts from moving forward. Still, we remain actively engaged in supporting temporary shelter, agriculture support, planning for new permanent homes and replacement of church related schools," said Rift.
"We owe it to the people of Haiti to continue through the challenges with fortitude of presence and readiness to support viable projects," he said.
Thus far the ELCA has provided $2 million for its domestic and international partners to support their relief efforts in Haiti. The ELCA is developing a multiyear disaster recovery plan for Haiti, which will mobilize the financial gifts received.
The ELCA has allocated:
+ $950,000 for the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Geneva. The LWF's goal in Haiti is to "enhance the living conditions of the most vulnerable groups impacted by the earthquake." It has provided shelter materials, food and nonfood items, clean water and psychological-social care, as well as managing distribution of materials and restoring livelihoods through "cash-for-work" and agricultural programs. The ELCA is a member of the LWF.
+ $541,493 for Eglise Lutherienne d'Haiti (Lutheran Church in Haiti) (ELH). Haitian families sought refuge at several of the church's 12 locations after the earthquake. The objective of the ELH is to ensure that survivors have access to shelter, food, water, sanitation and other materials and services needed for daily living, safety and security. The church provided food to 6,000 people.
+ $300,000 to Church World Service (CWS), New York. CWS has provided four shipments of material aid with a value of $727,452, reported Bradfield. The shipment includes medicine, hygiene and baby supply kits, blankets, family tents, water, flashlights and batteries, and packaged food. The ELCA is a partner of CWS.
+ $150,000 to Lutheran World Relief (LWR), Baltimore. "Reports received have indicated that this contribution has leveraged $600,000 worth of material resources," said Bradfield. LWR is a ministry of the ELCA and The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
+ $55,000 for Lutheran Services Florida, Lutherans Services Georgia and the Lutheran Medical Center in New York. These ELCA partners are providing assistance to Haitian refugees and others seeking medical aid in the United States. Other services include crisis counseling, cash assistance and housing.
"The long-term approach being planned (will be designed) for the restoration of livelihoods and the instilling of hope among Haitian nationals," said Bradfield, adding that in its plan the ELCA will continue to work closely with its companions.
ELCA members, staff to visit Haiti in August
A group of ELCA Global Mission staff and members of the ELCA Florida-Bahamas Synod will attend the ELH's assembly Aug. 31-Sept. 1 in Port-au-Prince. The group also plans to explore continued opportunities for joint mission and ministry between the ELCA and ELH.
Pat Hansen, co-chair of the ELCA Florida-Bahamas Synod's Haiti task force, said the synod shares a "deep and rich" relationship with the ELH.
Hansen said there has been "much disillusion" about the earthquake recovery progress in Haiti. She said that with the oil spill in the U.S. Gulf Coast "much attention has been drawn from Haiti's problems to those here at home."
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The ELCA July 30 situation report CAN BE VIEWED HERE