Eugene Cho

arrived and learning in haiti

The title of this post was supposed to be the title of a post that I was going to publish yesterday.  I was scheduled to fly out to Haiti on Monday to spend some time with connections, shadow and learn from some organizations for research for our poverty organization, hang with kids at orphanages, and learn about how the food crisis has significantly impacted the people of Haiti.  But because of the multiple storms that have hit Haiti and the surrounding countries – including the current “Ike” storm – I had to make a gut and prayerful decision to postpone my trip to another time. 

I have yet to step foot in Haiti but I have heard so much about its beauty and depravity.  It  has long been on my list of places to go for various reasons.

Haiti’s regional, historical, and ethnolinguistic position is unique for several reasons. It was the first post-colonial independent black-led nation in the world, as well as being the only nation whose independence was gained as part of a successful slave rebellion. Haiti was the first in Latin America to gain its sovereignty and is also the region’s only independent Francophone nation; the other French-speaking Latin American countries are all overseas departments of France. [wikipedia]

And yet because of numerous converging and persistent reasons, Haiti has been devastated by cyclical poverty.  It is the “poorest nation” in the Western hemisphere…and yet only a stone’s throw away from Florida.  Approximately 70-80% of the Haitian population live in poverty and 75% of the population are children.  The yearly income [for those who are able to find jobs] is approximately $150US/year. And consider more of these alarming statistics:   

  • 10% of the child population in Haiti will die before the age of 4.
  • 7% [300K] of the children in Haiti are enslaved.  They are as young as 3 years old.  They often suffer sexual, emotional, physical abuse and possibly death.
  • 45% of the Haitian population is illiterate.
  • 30% of the Haitian population is either ill and or underweight.Because of the recent storms that have battered Haiti, the situation has grown even worse. 

    The island nation has been a bull’s-eye for four storms in less than a month. Fay, Hurricane Gustav, Tropical Storm Hanna and Hurricane Ike raked across Haiti, killing hundreds of people. Witnesses describe mud-covered corpses crowding morgues on the island’s western coast.

    Thousands of homes were destroyed and up to a million people are homeless. Torrential rains ruined crops, while swollen rivers swept away bridges and children. In the city of Gonaives, according to one report, thousands of residents were forced onto rooftops as flood waters rose. The city is all but cut off, with some 100,000 people lacking food and clean water.

    Check out the two articles below:

    New York Times: Meager Living of Haitians is Wiped out by Storms

    Their cupboards were virtually bare before the winds started whipping, the skies opened up and this seaside city filled like a caldron with thick, brown, smelly muck.

    Suffering long ago became normal here, passed down through generations of children who learn that crying does no good.

    But the enduring spirit of the people of Gonaïves is being tested by a string of recent tropical storms and hurricanes whose names Haitians spit out like curses: Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike.

    After four fierce storms in less than a month, the little that many people had has turned to nothing at all. Their humble homes are under water, forcing them onto the roofs. Schools are canceled. Hunger is now intense. Difficult lives have become untenable ones and, if that was not enough, hurricane season has only just reached the traditional halfway mark.

    One can see the misery in the eyes of Edith Pierre, who takes care of six children on her roof in the center of Gonaïves, a city of about 300,000 in Haiti’s north. She has strung a sheet up to shield them, somewhat, from the piercing sun. The few scraps of clothing she could salvage sit in heaps off to a side. “Now I have nothing,” she said before pausing a minute, staring down from the roof at the river of floodwater and then saying again in an even more forlorn way: “Nothing.” [click article to read more]

    Storm-hit Haitians starve on rooftop:

    Haiti was reeling last night from a series of tropical storms which devastated crops and infrastructure and left bodies floating in flooded towns. Three storms in three weeks unleashed “catastrophe” and submerged much of the impoverished Caribbean nation, said President Rene Preval. A fourth storm, Ike, was gathering force in the Atlantic and could strike next week.

    More than 120 people have died, thousands are homeless and agriculture and transport networks have been washed away, prompting calls for emergency international aid.

    “There are a lot of people who have been on top of the roofs of their homes over 24 hours now,” the interior minister, Paul Antoine Bien-Aime, told Reuters. “They have no water, no food and we can’t even help them.”

    If you’re interested in making a donation to some of the relief orgs in Haiti, there are numerous.  Couple I would recommend amongst many are:  Theo’s Work, Compassion, World Vision, Haiti Poverty, Haiti Children, & Clean Water for Haiti.  Feel free to recommend others you have confidence in but even it’s a little, don’t just read and move on.  If you’re not able to give financially, I want to challenge you to take about 30 minutes to click on some of these orgs to see what they’re doing and how you might be able to support them on some level.

Filed under: religion, travel,

10 Responses

  1. Sara says:

    I am a long time lurker/reader, first time commenter. I’m a mama in process of adopting and, even though my child’s birth-courntry is not Haiti, I know of a few in the adoption communty who have children currently living in Haiti awaiting their “forever family.” My husband and I just gave a small amount in response to this blog post: http://dreamingbigdreams.wordpress.com/2008/09/08/haiti-updates/. It tells all about the work of this REMARKABLE organization: http://haitirescuecenter.wordpress.com/

  2. eugenecho says:

    thank you for reading, confessing your lurking, and for your first comment. where are you adopting from?

    thanks for the link. i like RHFH.

  3. Jenny says:

    Eugene, Nazarene Compassionate Ministries – http://www.ncm.org – is another excellent organization that is working to meet the needs of the hurricane victims, as well as the Christians being persecuted in India, and other needs around the world.

    I hope you will one day get to make that trip to Haiti.

  4. eugenecho says:

    @jenny,

    thanks for the tip and the note.

    gain, really appreciate your donation to our org. you should have received an email from our staff about 501c3 and blah blah blah.

  5. Jenny says:

    I did receive the e-mail from your staff. Still praying with you for all that it involves to get it fully up and running. May each of our hearts (including those who are working on your 501c3) be broken and challenged to action as we see the needs around the world through the eyes of Christ.

  6. John says:

    Here’s one of the missions we support in Haiti. The need for both systemic change and individual help is so great there…
    http://norainhaiti.spaces.live.com

  7. browneyedamazon says:

    I have been blessed to have made two trips to Haiti in recent years. It holds a very special place in my heart and I sincerely hope you get the opportunity to go soon.

    Haiti is a heartbreaking blend of sheer beauty (in the people and the land) and hopelessness. That is not to say that Haiti is entirely without hope but that decades of oppression, poverty, religious bondage, and persecution from their own government has left an air of hopelessness that has to be fought daily. Still, the families (particularly the children) I wokred with were wonderful and loving and they will challenge a person to look at what they demand of themselves and their own lives.

    Given the chance I would go back again without hesitation.

  8. Wonderful post. Thanks for your interest and heart for Haiti.
    Please visit my blog, I think you will enjoy it.
    I will be going back to Haiti in March 2009…….I wish I could go now but can’t afford it yet.
    God bless you.
    Deb

  9. Sara says:

    Sorry for the delay in responding to your question. One of the hazards of using Google Reader to track with all of the blogs I like is that I rarely get to see the comment thread. In answer to your question, we are adopting from Panama. Hopefully not too long from now we’ll have our little girl from the Tropics at home here in the Pacific Northwest.

  10. Shaun King says:

    Hey Eugene,

    I just wanted to connect with you to share with you that I also have a huge heart for Haiti. I am considering making a trip there before ’09 and would like to film a video there for our first Sunday service on 1-11-2009. Maybe we can coordinate trips and share resources?

    -Shaun & Crew

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