Haiti Earthquake, a Decade Later: Food For The Poor Donors Devoted to Rebuilding
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Jan. 9, 2020) “I lost my father and three sisters, I loved them… I don’t know what I am going to do now, I just don’t know,” were the pain-filled words of an injured young man recorded by a Food For The Poor staff member in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, after a devastating earthquake rocked the Caribbean nation a decade ago.
On Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010, at 4:53 p.m., a sudden shift in a fault line triggered a catastrophic 7.0 magnitude earthquake near Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. More than 250,000 people were killed that day and an estimated 1.3 million were left homeless. On that day, 12 students and two faculty advisors from Lynn University, in Boca Raton, Fla., were on a Journey of Hope mission trip with Food For The Poor.
Among those lost that day were university students Stephanie Crispinelli, Britney Gengel, Christine Gianacaci, Courtney Hayes, and Professors Patrick Hartwick and Richard Bruno. The powerful earthquake caused the Hotel Montana, in Petionville, where the group was staying, to collapse. Food For The Poor Missions & Travel Director Leann Chong was among those trapped. After 17 hours beneath 3 feet of concrete, she was rescued. She reflects on that rescue here.
Since the earthquake the charity has:
- Built 10,810 permanent two-room concrete block homes with water and sanitation components. Since an average Haiti household consists of six family members, Food For The Poor has provided more than 64,860 people with a secure place to live.
- Installed 168 water filtration units that purify 1,680,000 gallons of water a day.
- Drilled 923 water wells and pumps.
- Built or replaced 64 schools.
- Shipped 11,892 tractor-trailer loads of aid, which include rice, sardines, beans, rice/soy meals, medicine, medical supplies, school and dorm furniture, tiles, shoes, hygiene items, household items, cleaning supplies, and construction supplies.
“Immediately after the earthquake, I went to Haiti, and I was completely heartbroken by what I saw in Port-au-Prince days after the disaster. What happened a decade ago can never be forgotten, nor should it be,” said Food For The Poor EVP & Chief Marketing Officer Angel Aloma. “It’s been 10 years, and I still cannot find the words to express the pain we feel for those who died that day in Haiti. When we think about the university students and their advisors, it can be overwhelming. We continue to honor their sacrifice by helping to lift the poor out of poverty, which was the purpose of their mission trip.”
In 2012, Food For The Poor dedicated the Journey of Hope Memorial Village in Croix-des-Bouquets. The village was dedicated on the second anniversary of the earthquake to honor the legacy of the Lynn University students and professors. The charity built the 42-home community for earthquake survivors.
It has an eight-room primary school that was built with earthquake-resistant materials, and a 10-unit sanitation block. It also has a two-room community center, which is being used for meetings and prayer services. Dozens of fruit trees were planted and a well was drilled to provide clean water.
Food For The Poor-Haiti Executive Director Bishop Ogé Beauvoir said he believes with God’s help all things are possible, even with all the past and current setbacks, the people of Haiti will never give up on hope.
“Despite it all, throughout these 10 years, we have remained faithful to prayer,” Beauvoir said. “We’re standing in faith, persevering in the desire to serve others, and through others to serve God. Thanks to our faithful donors, volunteers and many partners, we are still able to reach people in the most destitute areas of Haiti who look to Food For The Poor for hope and change.”
The charity began serving in Haiti in 1986, and the challenge now is to keep moving forward, despite the many difficulties.
“It’s a harsh reality, but the earthquake recovery effort in Haiti has somewhat faded from the world’s memory. The rebuilding continues, but fuel shortages, food insecurity and political protests are what’s front and center,” said Food For The Poor President & Chief Executive Officer Ed Raine. “As we strive to transform the lives of the poor in Haiti, it is imperative that our objective be known, which is to help break the cycle of poverty through sustainable development strategies.”
The outcome of the unknown young man who shared his indescribable grief for his father and three sisters with the Food For The Poor staff member may never be known. What is known is that Food For The Poor donors are committed to help one person, one family at a time.
Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of the hungry poor 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 orphaned or abandoned children, care for the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.
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