Food For The Poor Hosts Bishop From Dominica: Charity, Bishop Committed to Helping Families in Poverty Create a Future
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Feb. 21, 2022) Bishop Gabriel Malzaire, of Dominica, visited Food For The Poor’s Coconut Creek headquarters on Friday and met with its leadership to talk about working together to lift families out of poverty and how Dominica has recovered from Hurricane Maria.
It’s been nearly five years since the Category 5 storm slammed into Dominica on a course that also devastated Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The COVID-19 pandemic added to the challenges of families who already were struggling.
“The recovery exercise has been very, very strenuous and difficult, especially from the vantage point of having sufficient funds to rebuild all the churches,” Bishop Malzaire said. “We’re still in the process of rebuilding. That’s been the main struggle.”
Bishop Malzaire soon will return to his homeland as the new Metropolitan Archbishop of Castries, St. Lucia, the Vatican announced on Feb. 11. He has served as bishop in Dominica for 19 years and is in his second term as President of the Antilles Episcopal Conference. His installation as Metropolitan Archbishop of Castries will occur on Sunday, April 24.
FFTP President/CEO Ed Raine said the charity remains committed to helping families in need on the eastern Caribbean island but also is looking for better ways to have a lasting impact.
“Poverty is not just a single dimension. It’s multiple things that need to be attended to,” Raine said. “We really want to make sure that our work stretches from the relief to the development. We want to partner with the church and organizations to make sure that we can really do something that has lasting effect.”
In the wake of Hurricane Maria, FFTP sent more than 100 containers of aid to Dominica. The building materials supplied by FFTP were used to repair 12 churches and eight schools. Materials also were distributed to help families repair their homes damaged by the hurricane.
“We’re certainly thankful for the significant help that Food For The Poor has given the aftermath of the hurricane with materials and lumber and things that were needed to rebuild,” Bishop Malzaire said.
Raine said the success of a welding shop in Honduras funded by the charity’s donors can be a model for how it helps people in other countries, such as Dominica and St. Lucia, where the charity also helps. The welding shop has provided jobs for 18 people who make bed frames for homes built by the charity. In 2021, the charity purchased more than 2,000 bed frames as the welding shop’s main client.
“This is an example of what you can do to not just create a little bit of work, but a lot of work and creating a market that can now be used as distribution for this output,” Raine said. “There’s an opportunity for both the materials and the spiritual to come together through the church and through the organizations such as Food For The Poor to really help people think about purpose in their lives and through a spiritual definition as well.”
Bishop Malzaire said empowering people to create a future for themselves is a “tremendous model.”
“It is not a question of simply giving handouts, which is the much easier thing to do,” Bishop Malzaire said. “But to really study needs and address needs as necessary and in the process develop people educationally, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually.”
While COVID-19 changed the world, Bishop Malzaire said the pandemic also served as an opportunity.
“We cannot take life for granted,” Bishop Malzaire said. “Every crisis situation is an opportunity to look at ourselves, the way we operate, our vision, our purpose in life to understand it in a new way.”
Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry children and families living in poverty primarily in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicine, educational materials, homes, support for vulnerable children, care for the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.
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