Haiti: Transition from Relief to Rehab Under Way

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI (March 17, 2010) – Covenant World Relief (CWR) partners in Haiti are beginning to transition their work from relief to rehabilitation and development while continuing to meet current needs – which remain desperate, says Director Dave Husby.

Husby is part of a four-member Evangelical Covenant Church team who traveled to the country on Monday. They are meeting with World Relief International (WR) as well as Medical Teams International (MTI) to discuss how best to collaborate on continuing relief work. The team, which will be in Haiti through Thursday, also hopes to make new connections, says Husby.

Others on the trip are Debbie Blue, executive minister of the Department of Compassion, Mercy and Justice; Robert Owens, superintendent of the Southeast Conference; and David Mark, World Mission regional coordinator for Latin America.

Paul Rebman, WR director of disaster relief, told Husby that lessons learned from the response to the 2004 tsunami have improved relief initiatives in Haiti. “There is much better coordination in the Haiti response,” Rebman said. “The United Nations is holding daily cluster meetings with NGOs (non-government organizations) to coordinate the work and try to prevent duplication,” he cited as one example.

Blue is amazed at the resiliency of the Haitian people. “The people are not giving up,” Blue says. “They believe that they will be able to rebuild Haiti.”

More than $1 million has been donated to the Covenant Haiti Relief Fund as of last weekend. To contribute to the Haiti relief effort online, click here. Some of the money already is being used in the country, while other funds will be distributed as the ongoing rebuilding work continues.

MTI has more than 12 teams and 70 medical professionals on the ground since the earthquake struck January 12 – the accompanying photos show professionals working in a medical care center. The medical professionals have been caring for more than 3,000 people per week and currently have teams stationed in Leogane and Les Cayes, says Steve Wytcherley, manager of church partnerships.

MTI expects to spend the next six months expanding its primary role of connecting medical volunteers and supplies by working with Quisqueya Crisis Relief in Port-au-Prince. The needs are being identified by a network of missionaries and agencies working in the country in collaboration with Christian medical clinics and churches.

At the same time, they also will be transitioning to rehabilitation and development programs. MTI will use funds donated by organizations such as CWR to leverage further funding from the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance to support projects as part of the large-scale Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program.

The projects will serve more than 10,000 families displaced to camps in Leogane. They will focus on training women as WASH representatives/agents in targeted communities. The women will be trained in basic health promotion and hygiene standards and practices such as hand washing, food and water storage, and waste disposal. Materials and supplies will be provided.

The projects also will include building a large number of latrines – potentially more than 1,000 – and providing more than 20,000 insecticide-treated mosquito nets.

“There is such great need, but it is hugely encouraging to see God at work amongst his people,” says Wytcherley.

World Relief also continues to work with partners to provide water, food, and medical supplies.

More than 800 hygiene kits (lower photo) already have been distributed in two tent cities serving some 2,000 individuals, Husby says. “These kits cost $69 – to purchase the products, assemble them, and distribute them to the people,” he notes.

Another 1,600 kits are being delivered. “Because of health risks in the crowded tent cities, these hygiene kits are important to help prevent the spread of disease.”

The need for water also is great because people are getting it wherever they can, often from dirty and dangerous sources that put them at risk of disease.

So far, World Relief has distributed an estimated 316,800 gallons of water and will continue to do so until permanent sources are available, says Craig Pixley, senior cause engagement director.

Six well sites have been identified, including churches, orphanages and schools. “We are helping to facilitate the formation of community water committees to manage wells on a long-term basis and create ownership,” Pixley says.

Four wells have been drilled and two already are functional. They are enabling churches and hospitals to meet the immediate needs of patients, congregants, vulnerable children and others in their community, Pixley says.

World Relief is working alongside a church led by Pastor Sampson Dorilas to build a well. The church, a World Relief partner for several years, is located in the slum area of Carrefour and experienced horrific loss in the earthquake – 49 church members died and at least 200 lost their homes.

Church services are now conducted using pews in the open air, alongside the makeshift homes of approximately 150 people living in the churchyard.

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