Over the past two years, saint benedict’s table has cultivated a bit of a relationship with a vibrant mission in Haiti, and what follows here is the latest update on how things have unfolded over these challenging months of rebuilding after the earthquake. Not only have we offered financial support to this work, but we have a personal connection through Pierre Plourde and Krista Waring and their family, who have a longstanding relationship to this ministry.
e have had two teams travel to Haiti this past month. Everyone is now back home and those who got sick have either fully or mostly recovered. Both the EMAS (Education, Medical Aid & Service) team and the eMi (Engineering Ministries International) team were made up of incredible individuals who worked remarkably well together. Between the two teams, the El Shaddai community hosted a total of 18 people. This involved organizing accommodation, meals, transportation, telecommunications, and security for both teams. Our hosts did a remarkable job!
The first thing that both teams were shown when they arrived in Haiti was the new building at ES-1 (the site of the original church/school building that was destroyed in the earthquake). Last April, when the new property which the El Shaddai community is calling ES-2, was secured with a wall and metal gate, the construction efforts moved over to ES-1. EMAS approved the elders’ plan to build a simple, sturdy, permanent, one story structure, where their two-story church/school once stood. It is half the space they had (& that was cramped) but it will work for smaller church gatherings, some school activities and an absolutely essential emergency shelter (when the hurricanes come) even after the future El Shaddai Community Health Centre is designed and built at ES-2.
The plan was to have the building at ES-1 finished in time for the EMAS team to run clinic out of it.
Denis gathered as much information as he could and had the foundation built with techniques that better absorb shifting during an earthquake. In early May, two weeks before the EMAS team arrived, there was a 5.0 to 6.0 ‘after shock’ and the workers inside the building said they didn’t even feel it. There is still a little finishing work left to do but in a remarkable time of four weeks Denis and the crew he was able to employ got the job done and the neighbourhood is calling the building a miracle!
The eMi team (including their structural engineer from Los Angeles with earthquake design expertise) remarked that the quality of the construction of the security wall at ES-2 and the new ES-1 building were of the highest standard, and should be able to withstand the effects of earthquakes up to a magnitude of 8.0 – so the “skilled labour” of El Shaddai community were given “top marks” for their handiwork!
This small faith community on the northeast edge of Port-au-Prince has built a place that has become a symbol of hope for the entire neighbourhood. It was done with their own leadership, ingenuity, skill, hard work and a little help from Canadian friends like you to purchase the materials. The El Shaddai community is very grateful for our financial support and for trusting that they could do the job. The building now stands as a testimony of God’s grace, Christ’s faith, and the power of the Holy Spirit that is heard in the preaching and seen in the actions of El Shaddai church community members.
El Shaddai Elementary School
On Monday May 3 (16 weeks after the Jan 12 earthquake) the El Shaddai Elementary School once again opened its ‘doors’, this time at ES-2. Nine classes take place under a temporary ‘picnic shelter’ type structure built along a section of the security wall. Many families have dispersed to the countryside, so of the 120 children previously enrolled at the school, 70 have found their way back. The set up is very basic; chalkboards are attached to the security wall and classrooms are divided by blue tarps but all of the previous teachers are back and seriously dedicated to the work of educating Haiti’s children. Part of the EMAS team (James, Kristin, Branden & Daniel) worked with the school staff so we can have a better understanding of how we can help them achieve their goals. They also had some fun with the soccer gear Daniel brought down even though the heat was just simply oppressive.
The rest of the EMAS team; Raphael, Rachelle, Colin, Nicole and Jessica focused on the medical/dental needs of the community. The two grade 12 students; Branden and Daniel split their time between the pharmacy and the school. Pierre (EMAS team leader) split his time between the clinic, school and the eMi team. The clinic was run out of the new building at ES-1 with an additional one-day satellite clinic run at ES-2 for the elementary students. Together with the Haitian doctor, dentist, nurse and a dozen nursing students, the teaching clinic saw 568 patients with 657 diagnoses and filled 939 prescriptions.
The Future El Shaddai Community Health Centre
For the eMi team, their task was to produce a design for a Community Health Centre that would best meet the needs of this community given what they have to work with. The design needed to reflect the El Shaddai Community vision and be something that this community could both build and maintain. A church, elementary school, kitchen and clinic all needed to be worked into the design. And it all needs to be designed/built to stand after an earthquake and provide shelter during hurricanes. Quite the task!
eMi also uses a teaching team approach to their work, which made for an easy fit with the EMAS philosophy and was welcomed by the Haitians. Greg (eMi team leader/architect) arrived with 2 additional architects, 3 engineers (civil, structural, electrical) and 2 university interns (architect & engineer) Wednesday morning. By Friday evening the eMi team had visited all of the El Shaddai community ministries, inspected the recent construction at ES-1 and ES-2, completed an accurate GPS-assisted survey of ES-2 and produced 3 possible design directions to consider. The one to pursue was chosen by the El Shaddai community leadership. Then after church on Sunday, the team presented further developed drawings that the elders were thrilled with. By Tuesday evening, the eMi team had tested the new water systems at both ES-1 and ES-2, inspected Dr. Robert’s clinic building, which no one had been willing to enter (and determined it to be completely safe), and produced a 3D model of the future El Shaddai Community Health Centre. WOW!
During the coming weeks, the eMi team (now dispersed from Hawaii to Calgary) will complete construction drawings so that the El Shaddai community can begin construction as soon as November 2010 (after the hurricane season & once a 2nd fundraising campaign is well on its way). You’ll be hearing more about this in our August 2010 update.
We continue to focus on equipping the community so they can do the work of caring for one another. For example we have helped to build up community spaces – school and church, rather than individual homes. Your contributions through EMAS have provided the materials for the construction described above, food distributions, school staff salaries and the costs for the design of the future El Shaddai Community Health Centre. Both the employment generated and direct aid received have provided relief and made a huge difference in the life of this community. They are so thankful!
However, we must keep in mind that daily life remains a constant battle for the people of Haiti. Most team members returned home with stomach complaints and at our team debriefing we all reflected on the fact that along with everything else, most Haitians have to deal with this kind of illness EVERY DAY! So as we begin the fundraising campaign for the future El Shaddai Community Health Centre we hope you will consider giving again and then again. The prospect of ‘Building Haiti Better than Before’ can be overwhelming and we certainly don’t have all the answers as to how that is to be done. What we do have is a group of faithful Haitian leaders and a skilled labour force who just need some resources to help their community. Our goal is to build the El Shaddai Community Health Centre while maintaining the ministries. This means we’ll need to at least double what was raised following the earthquake and we no longer have pictures in the news to remind us of the horrors that Haitians continue to face. So we’ll continue to send out our occasional updates, trusting that you will give as you are able and commit this work to our Lord in prayer.
Thank you for all you give!
Krista & Pierre