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Disparity combated with physical and spiritual shelter

By May 10, 2010

Haiti (MNN) — Last week, the U.S. Senate proposed to increase American aid for Haiti to $3.5 billion, raising to the total amount of aid for rebuilding to almost $15 billion, according to the Associated Press.

Why so much money for such a small country? Connie Winterstein of Food for the Hungry said it is mostly because of Haiti's continued economic depravity over the last 50 years, as the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation.

Also, relief workers want to avoid the weak construction that allowed so much devastation in the first place: "One of the concerns about shelter is that they don't want to rebuild too quickly, to have the same type of infrastructure that was so poor before," Winterstein said.

Therefore, nations like the U.S., NGOs, and others involved in the rebuilding process have begun to develop long-term plans for the next 5-10 years, which include restoring livelihoods, re-establishing agriculture and reconstructing homes and buildings.

Not all of this can be put off for now, however. The rainy season is upon Haiti, and the hurricane season fast approaches, with many weather experts predicting a more active season than most.

People need shelter, as many people still only have tarpaulins over their heads, but relief workers want shelters built right.

Thus, FH and others have come up with a partial solution to this dilemma: "They are changing these very temporary shelters to what they call transitional shelters that can last up to five years … and they can withstand category two hurricanes," Winterstein said.

In addition to these shelters, FH developed a program called Child-Friendly Spaces, to give children stability, fun, and supplemental education during this turbulent time in their lives. Once Haiti's school system is up and running, Winterstein said the program will also provide after-school events, which will give parents a chance to find job without having to worry about what to do with their children.

Also, Winterstein said FH is partnering with local churches as they look to provide shelter from a different type of storm–the spiritual one raging inside their souls. She said during times like this, people are drawn to God, and "despite the horrible tragedy, people do find salvation."

Pray for Haitians to find physical and spiritual shelter. Pray also for FH as they combat compassion fatigue by engaging churches back in the U.S. and other countries far from Haiti through volunteer trips and child sponsorships.

Want to engage in FH's ministry, as well as impact victimized Haitians? Check out their Web site.

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