Haiti Earthquake One Year Later: Bigger Crisis Looms
FFTP Responds to Urgent Need to Feed Children, Families and Prisoners in Crisis
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (August 11, 2022) As Haiti looks back one year to a devastating earthquake, the challenges in the country are even greater and Food For The Poor is responding with urgently needed food for prisoners at risk of starvation, for families displaced by gang violence and for children forced to leave their families.
Three major actions under way this week include:
- Cooking 4,000 hot meals a day for the next 15 days to feed prisoners at Port-au-Prince’s main prison at the urgent request of the prison system. The prison is unable to cook due to problems with its propane system and cannot provide hot meals on a regular basis. The police will pick up the meals from FFTP-Haiti’s feeding center and deliver them each day.
- Distributing dry rations, including rice, pork and beans, in addition to providing clothing and hygiene items for 800 children being cared for by nuns in shelters. Earlier, the charity provided a hot supper for 11 days after the children were uprooted from their families in Cité Soleil.
- Distributing 3,800 food baskets to families displaced from Cité Soleil through local partner E-Power, a private utility company. Each food basket will provide enough food to feed an average family of five for up to 10 days.
“The challenges that the earthquake presented a year ago have been compounded with a worsening humanitarian crisis,” FFTP President/CEO Ed Raine said. “We anticipate the situation will become even more challenging in Haiti and these three actions are critical to save lives now. But we know more work will be required.”
The main prison was built to house 400 inmates but currently holds more than 3,800. When prison officials contacted FFTP-Haiti for help, the prisoners desperately needed food and water.
In order to feed the prisoners, Mario Nicoleau, Executive Director of FFTP-Haiti, said the charity is preparing the same meal for its own staff and for impoverished residents in elderly homes, both for efficiency and as a show of solidarity.
“Everybody is going to eat the same meal,” Nicoleau said.
The rice for the meals was donated by the Republic of China (Taiwan), a longtime FFTP partner. The charity also is providing some medicines and vitamins for further nutritional support.
In the meantime, FFTP-Haiti is working to help the prison fix problems with its water and kitchen that are preventing it from regularly serving hot meals. After 15 days, the charity will resume sending beans and rice to the prison. Typically, the charity sends about 150 bags of rice and 50 bags of beans to the prison system every month.
Haiti is struggling to stabilize itself in the strengthening grip of rising fuel prices and crippling fuel shortages, political upheaval, escalating gang violence and kidnappings.
“This is the day-to-day reality and unfortunately it has worsened over the last couple of years,” Raine said. “We can never underestimate the degree of difficulty of working in Haiti.”
The Aug. 14, 2021, earthquake in Haiti’s southern peninsula killed more than 2,200 people and destroyed tens of thousands of homes. Hundreds of schools were destroyed or severely damaged. Two more significant quakes in January destroyed hundreds more homes in the same region of southwest Haiti.
Since the Aug. 14, 2021, quake, the charity has implemented the following in the affected region:
- Built 137 new homes, with 40 under construction and 30 ready for work to begin.
- Built one new school with four more under construction.
- Built 29 temporary school shelter modules for 10 schools, with 34 in progress.
- Provided 900 food baskets to 6,000 beneficiaries.
- Distributed 6,000 bags of rice, 1,585 bags of beans and 69 cases of beans.
- Continued to ship tractor-trailer loads of aid to Haiti so they can be cleared at the port whenever there is an opportunity. To date, 215 containers of earthquake relief supplies have been sent from its Coconut Creek, Fla., headquarters.
In June, FFTP-Haiti opened a new satellite office in Miragoâne, located in the Nippes department in Haiti. It’s the first of two that the charity is opening in Haiti to bring its team members closer to the areas and the people the charity helps.
But for every victory, each day, each week brings new obstacles.
Roads often become blocked by armed gangs and burning tires. To get around that, the charity has relied on barges and sea routes only to see the flow of containers at Haiti’s port shut down after customs officials went on strike when their leader was kidnapped.
“Despite it all, our work has not halted,” Nicoleau said. “There are small miracles every day.”
Haiti has been plagued by political instability and devastated by natural disasters over the years, crippling its development. Conditions have worsened in the wake of a perfect storm of rising global food and energy costs, triggered by the Ukraine war and fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated on July 7, 2021, plunging the country into deeper crisis. A month later, the earthquake and Tropical Storm Grace followed.
In the political vacuum, gang wars have displaced thousands and forced businesses to close. The national police are not equipped to control the violence. About a third of the country lives in extreme poverty and experiences food insecurity, defined as when people have trouble meeting their basic food needs, sometimes cutting other necessities in order to provide food.
“A lot is riding on us,” Nicoleau said. “The situation in the country is dire. There is less food. Less work. There is more misery. Children need more help.”
While the obstacles seem insurmountable, Raine said the charity has stood as a beacon of hope in Haiti for 36 years and will continue to provide relief in times of disaster and long-term solutions to lift families out of extreme poverty.
“It is a desperate situation,” Raine said. “We will act in the competent and effective way that we always do. We intend to be there for the future. There is no question of Food For The Poor giving up on Haiti. This is our job. It is our mission. It is our purpose. And there are millions of people who depend on us getting it right. Keep all those millions in your prayers.”
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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