Haiti (MNN) — In the 5+ years since Haiti’s most powerful earthquake in more than 200 years killed more than 220,000 people, the re-start on life has been slow for the 1.5 million displaced.
Headlines from Port-au-Prince blared about the waste, the mismanaged projects, and the pace of reconstruction. While some Non-Government Organizations are scrambling to answer accountability questions, one organization is moving forward to the next growth phase. “Compassion International raised $31 million in our relief fund immediately after the earthquake. We were able to hit the ground running as soon as the quake hit with our relief and emergency response,” says Compassion International spokesman Tim Glenn.
Because they work with church partners in the community, Compassions’s network was firmly in place when the disaster struck. Not having to waste time setting up a distribution framework allowed the ministry to focus on immediate response in the days after the quake reduced the city to rubble.
“Families were able to come to the local church for emergency shelter, for emergency food, clothing, water, medicines–all of those things. We were able to play a vital role in how the church was actually able to be the Church in those communities, in a time of disaster.”
Compassion already knew where repairs were going to happen and what kind. “The hundreds of church partners…have buildings attached to them where kids actually attend school and attend our program.” Most of those buildings were damaged or destroyed, so the rebuild was focused there. Trial and error on the project led to the formation of a construction company because “we had to get our buildings back up and build them to international seismic standards to make safe places for kids,” says Glenn. Their innovative urban development flew under the radar, but that meant they were unhindered. “We’ve built 30 new schools throughout the earthquake-ravaged area. We’ve built homes, we did emergency supply kits. We did an income-generation loan program that helped launch 450 businesses.”
With a mix of reconstruction, infrastructure upgrades, and social programs, these projects are aimed at building safer and more resilient communities for the future. What that means, says Glenn, is “the disaster office is closed. We no longer need it. We knew it was a temporary thing. We anticipated it would be a 5-6-year work program for that office.” Since all of the $31 million dollars have been spent, Glenn explains, “Now we can put all of our efforts, all of our focus, into doing what we do best, which is child development through sponsorship.”
One last thing to keep in mind about sponsorship programs: they’re one way the Gospel enters a community. Working with the church and other believers, Compassion impacts the lives of nearly 80,000 Haitian children and their families in the name of Christ.
The rebuild makes it possible for even more people to be introduced to the influence of the Gospel. “It’s not just our kids, our Compassion kids, who are going to those schools: it’s other kids in the community. So now we’ve been able to expand our outreach and our ministry, to the communities beyond even the kids in our program. Now all the kids in the community have safe places to learn, to play, and to grow.”