PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI (January 10, 2011) – A Medical Teams International group made up of Covenanters from around the United States and sponsored by Covenant World Relief (CWR) arrived here Sunday to provide care until their return January 23.
News Editor Stan Friedman will join the team later this week and provide reports via the Evangelical Covenant Church website, Facebook, and Twitter as Internet access is available.
The team is making the trip as the world marks the anniversary of the earthquake that struck a year ago Wednesday. Covenant World Relief funds have been at work in Haiti through its partners World Relief International (WRI) and Medical Teams International (MTI) since the day after the earthquake occurred.
CWR Director Dave Husby says many lives have been saved and restored through the work of its partners. More than $1 million has been contributed to the denomination’s Haiti relief fund, which is being distributed to the partners.
Other Covenant churches and sponsored ministries also continue to help people who otherwise might have not received assistance, including family members of those who died. They are supporting clinics, orphanages, providing emergency shelter, and pursuing how to establish more permanent housing, job opportunities, and medical care.
Many news reports have focused on the slow-going process of recovery – more than one million people still are living in temporary shelters, the unemployment rate is 80 percent, and the nation continues to struggle in its battle against a Cholera outbreak.
Covenanters working to improve conditions in Haiti acknowledge they are frustrated at the slow pace and that problems in delivery of service need to be addressed, but stress that recovery efforts following major events like this usually take several years.
Haiti already was the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere and had an unstable government. (For a report on the historic issues that have led to these issues, see this entry on the CWR blog).
When the earthquake struck, Haiti was left with no coordinated government. Most of its most important buildings were destroyed and communication was nearly impossible. The country already struggled with a meager road system.
Husby notes that although the United States is the wealthiest country in the hemisphere, there remains a lot of cleanup and reconstruction to be completed in New Orleans even though Hurricane Katrina hit that area more than five years ago. Indonesia similarly is still struggling to recover from the tsunami that struck that region six years ago.
The plethora of seemingly insurmountable challenges that face Haiti are the very reasons Christians must remain working there, say those providing assistance. The church cannot abandon them; rather, the call is to provide hope as the gospel is shared in word and deed.
As it has in other parts of the world, CWR will continue supporting its partners in Haiti over the coming years as they provide relief and work toward more permanent solutions.
Husby says he is grateful for the funds that continue to be contributed for work in Haiti.