News from El-Shaddai Church in Haiti
e’ve got a bit of a connection to El-Shaddai Church in Haiti, through our support of the annual medical mission team spear-headed by saint ben’s member Dr Pierre Plourde… and, in various ways, ably assisted by the rest of his family! What follows is a recent report of the shape of things in and around El-Shaddai, as well as an update on plans for the next mission team visit. This report was issued January 30.
- Seventeen days have passed since the initial 7.0 earthquake hit Haiti. Denis now reports that it may be possible to repair some of the homes that they feared would be lost. However, they continue to sleep out on the streets until the tremors have stopped and these buildings can be better inspected.
- We’ve been told that there are enough medical personnel in Port-au-Prince, the issue is a lack of access to medicines and supplies. In the north, where many have fled to, there are working hospitals with the necessary supplies that are able to perform surgeries on those who could make the journey.
- We have heard that Vicky (medical student) is safe but her stepfather is suffering from severe crush injuries to both legs.
- Growing hunger is fueling violence. Denis says it is no longer possible to manage the crowds. If aid does arrive, there is no one to ‘keep order’ as the nearest police station is a pile of rubble filled with the bodies of dead officers.
- At this time El-Shaddai church (500 people) and the neighbourhood (50,000 people) have yet to receive aid from anyone but EMAS.
- Denis received the money EMAS had sent and bought a truckload of food and supplies, which he calculates should provide the El-Shaddai community with very basic nourishment for 15 days. The food was distributed after dark while singing hymns to avoid a riot. The menu is corn flakes & watered down condensed milk for the children and rice for the adults. This supply will not last long as it will undoubtedly be shared (quietly to avoid violence) with very hungry neighbours.
Help on the Horizon
- Emmanuel International is an organization that has disaster relief staging sites not far from El-Shaddai and is willing to help get this neighbourhood ‘officially registered’ so they can begin to receive some of the aid, including temporary shelter and potable water, through the international effort. Denis meets with them Monday February 1.
It’s been quite the seesaw ride for this year’s team. They’ve been preparing to go since November, paid for their tickets in December and then since January 12 have watched more news footage of Haiti than we have seen in the last 25 years.
The 2010 team has quite a heart for Haiti and is still very committed to walking along side our friends at El-Shaddai. American Airlines has just cancelled our flights and we are now looking at trying to get the team there in May 2010.
Build Better than Before
We’ve begun conversations with eMi (Engineering Ministries International), a group who have experience in Haiti, to see if we could get an eMi team down to survey the El-Shaddai property, inspect the foundation that was built in 2008-2009, and advise us on the best way to proceed with building the future El-Shaddai school, feeding centre, community clinic & church.
Until then, we are doing all we can to help our Haitian friends access temporary shelter, water, food, & medical care so they can continue the ministries and basic programs of El-Shaddai church.
Help for Haiti – to Build Better than Before and to help with the immediate needs will take a lot of money. That truckload of food that Denis brought to the community cost more than US$5000. Denis estimates that just to build a security wall around the El-Shaddai property will cost US$25,000. The task at hand can seem overwhelming, but so has the generous support of so many. Here are some highlights of what’s happening right now:
- We’ve had an offer of help from a woman with much experience in fundraising; Krista is meeting with her next week.
- We also had an offer of help from a professional administrator – we need to call her!
- Media – Pierre does not have to seek this attention; there are calls almost daily from local to national media.
- Bruce (2004, 05 & 06 team member) is updating our ‘Hand in Hand with Haiti’ brochure and producing a short video of Pierre thanking folks for their support. We plan to send this video to events that we’re not able to personally attend.
- Workplace – Pierre’s workplace (Winnipeg Regional Health Authority) has been amazing! On Tuesday, they kicked off their response to the earthquake and have already raised over $5500, with more events planned.
- Churches – Bethesda Church in Winnipeg let us know that they launched a campaign to respond to the needs El-Shaddai church is facing; they’ve already surpassed their goal! We’ve had several other invitations to speak in churches. Whether they are long time friends such as Broadway First Baptist, who have been supporting El-Shaddai since they met Pastor Saint Hilaire more than a decade ago, or congregations we have yet to meet, we are thankful for these invitations and look forward to these visits & welcome more opportunities. Most of all we are incredibly thankful for the response and support of our home church saint benedict’s table. This place has such a heart for the poor!
- Schools – Daniel (2010 team) & Braden’s (2010 team) High School (Kelvin) has been selling lemonade, baked goods and ‘I ♥ Haiti’ t-shirts, and Daniel has already spoken about Haiti to kids at two elementary schools. It’s heart-warming to see the concern these children are expressing for others.
- Organizations – The invitations for us to speak are as varied as the Winnipeg Chapter of UNIFEM to Creative Retirement Manitoba’s Current World Issues Lecture Series. The message of hope that we bring will be the same.
- Benefit Concert– Sheila (2007 team) is looking into the possibility of a benefit concert.
- Outside of Winnipeg
- One of the first events being organized was through the EMAS China teams in Vancouver! Their fund raising dinner will take place in Vancouver on Feb 3rd. Jessica (2010 team member who has yet to see Haiti!) will be there helping and supporting this initiative. So if you’re in Vancouver next week…
- James (2010 team member, also a newcomer to Haiti) is working on a fundraising event in Calgary
- One contact sent our last update to her global client list and apparently we have a donation coming from Dubai.
It seems that many hearts are going out to Haiti. We have received support from friends, family, past team members, churches, schools, work place, organizations and complete strangers. We ask that you continue to pray, to give and to imagine ways that you can be a messenger of hope in this hurting world.
You can donate on-line; just go to the EMAS website and click on donations. Remember to designate the donation to Haiti-disaster relief and your donation will be eligible for the matching funds.