Slow Aid Response in Outlying Areas ‘Frustrating’

CHICAGO, IL (January 20, 2010) – Missionaries now in Haiti say they are frustrated that aid is slow to arrive in areas outside Port-au-Prince, and the need continues to grow.

Although there was little physical damage in Pignon, 70 miles north of Port-au-Prince, the situation is worsening as refugees begin to stream into the town, says Marriane Murchison, the daughter of Marc Murchison, who pastors Lanyon Covenant Church of in Lanyon, Iowa.

Murchison, who graduated from Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville in December, planned to stay in the country three months while working with Haiti Mercy Mission. She has been teaching English to children and adults while also helping at an orphanage.

The orphanage already had stockpiled enough food to feed the 48 orphans and staff, Murchison says. She echoes other missionaries and relief workers outside the main cities, saying, “We fear massive price hikes in the future as people realize that all aid is focused on Port-au-Prince.”

She adds, “So far we have only seen the price of a 50-pound bag of rice go up from $32(US) to $45(US). However, during the food riots last spring these 50-pound bags of rice cost as much as $90(US) each.”

Murchison fears the food riots that already have begun in other parts of the country also will erupt in Pignon. “We hope that food riots will not occur, but who could blame a hungry person who normally only gets meals three times a week – and now because they are helping family members or food is becoming unavailable – eat once a week.”

The lack of coordination for the relief work has frustrated and angered Janelle Peterson, member of Faith Covenant Church in Winnipeg, Manitoba, who is doing mission work in Haut-Limbe, under the support of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Canada (ECCC).

On Saturday, she posted to her blog, that, “Unfortunately, aid agencies were waiting for direction from the Haitian government as to what the priorities are, which makes no sense to us. THE NEED IS NOW!! We cannot wait for direction from a government that was not functional before the quake, never mind now.”

The continual work to meet the needs of the people also is exhausting. “What day is it today? I’m not sure. The days are all running together,” she wrote this morning.

Murchison, who first chose to go to work at the orphanage in Haiti as her high school graduation present, says grief is mixed with anger.

“For those of us who have been helping in Haiti for years, we mourn with the people who we have come to love because of the loss of life and livelihood, but also because prosperity was just beginning to show on the streets. Now with the biggest earthquake in Haitian history it all seems to have crumbled along with the capital.”

Despite all of the wrenching emotions, Murchison and Peterson say that their faith remains strong and trust that God will redeem the horrific situation.

World Relief International, a partner with Covenant World Relief (CWR), said today that it is starting to get food beyond the city and will launch more feeding centers over the coming days.

Click here to donate online to the CWR Haiti Relief Fund.

Editor’s note: Two of the photos show surgical treatment of a young earthquake survivor.



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