|In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, this tent camp was established on the banks of the Grise River in Haiti.|
While the world's attention was fixed on Hurricane Sandy's damage of America's eastern coast, Haiti, a nation poised precariously and permanently on the edge of crisis, quietly endured massive and degenerative storm damage.
Although Haiti was not directly in Sandy's path, the country suffered three consecutive days of rain from October 23-26 that caused severe floods and damage schools, homes and public infrastructure. Potable water networks and cholera treatment centers were also damaged in the storm, raising concerns of a new outbreak of cholera.
More than 50 people died in the storm and some are still missing. Thousands also lost temporary shelters that were set up after the catastrophic January 2010 earthquake.
While New York and New Jersey celebrated the restoration of their electricity, life carried on much as it always has in hard-hit Haitian villages that never had power to begin with.
Shada, an under-privileged community north of Port-au-Prince, sits on the banks of the Grise River. When Hurricane Sandy caused the river to boil over its banks, more than 200 homes were swept away. Across Haiti, a total of nearly 34,000 homes were destroyed and more than 2,300 Haitians were left homeless.
Hurricane Sandy destroyed not only homes and communities, but also farmland. Hundreds of acres of land were washed away, leaving residents with no local food source.
|AG Missionary Bill Smith (right) speaks with Pastor Andre in the recently flooded community of Vaudreuil.|
In the days immediately following Sandy's strike, veteran missionaries Bill and Dorothy Smith responded in the best way they could by distributing what bags of rice they had on hand in their compound. The bags were originally intended for distribution at an upcoming marriage seminar.
In one town, Vaudreuil, most of the gardens and banana crops were swept away. Pastor Andre, who leads Vaudreuil Assembly of God, was nearly beside himself with joy when Bill Smith arrived with a bag of rice for the community. As Smith pulled the rice from his vehicle and stepped into view, the pastor's eyes filled with tears and he began to jump and clap for joy.
"They have a saying here," Smith says. "'Behind one mountain stands another mountain.' Crisis after crisis has confronted them, and survival mode has become their way of life."
Some officials estimate that Hurricane Sandy destroyed 70 percent of the country's crops, including maize, plantains and bananas.
Even in the face of such need, Haitian believers refuse to be defeated or resort to begging.
"Haiti has always had such great need," says Rev. Calixte Fleuridor, general superintendent of the Haiti Assemblies of God. "We know that the world is overwhelmed with our problems. We don't want to ask again for assistance."
Convoy of Hope maintains a strong presence in Haiti. In partnership with another compassion ministry, it occupies a compound that includes a chapel, an orphanage and a school for 1,200 children. In July 2012, a new 35,000-square-foot warehouse was dedicated. The new facility is now large enough to store more than 6 million meals.
Since Hurricane Sandy, Convoy has been delivering two full shipping containers of meals to those hardest hit. An additional list of food items has been prepared. The listed items will be purchased from various locations in Haiti in order to help bolster the local economies of those recovering communities. Convoy is also actively involved in water filtration and storage.
In addition to ongoing humanitarian efforts, the work of Christ continues to progress in Haiti. November 18, 2012, was a day of special victory. Two new Assemblies of God churches were dedicated, one in Vaudreuil and one in Croix des Bouquet. "I know the devil wasn't happy when our feet hit the floor - we had two church dedications," rejoices Richard Green, Haiti reconstruction foreman for Builders International. "Oh glorious day!"