Haiti ministry feels gnawing hunger keenly

By August 19, 2008

Haiti (MNN) — Haiti is in the middle of its fourth month without a fully-functioning government.  This follows the firing of Prime Minister Jacques-Edouard Alexis and his government in the wake of deadly food riots.

While the government is sorting itself out, Haitians are paying dearly for it. Public transportation and gas prices have risen, as has unemployement. Revenues have fallen, and a tangled mess of red tape at the docks is delaying rations at the government ports. Some of the donated rations may never make it to the people they were intended for.

A shipment of emergency food aid made it to Haiti, but Eva DeHart with For Haiti With Love  says it vanished. "Three complete ships of food were supposed to have arrived in Port au Prince on June; no one has a clue what happened to the food. It was not distributed."

As a result, people are starving en masse, and they're resorting to eating mud cakes. These are cookies made of dirt, salt and margarine. They have some calcium and essentially stop the hunger.

Meanwhile, rice is nearly non-existent. If it can be found, the price is exorbitant for those who might be able to earn $2 a day. For example, DeHart says a bag of rice is almost $640 (Haitian dollars), which translates to roughly $100USD or about $8 per cup.    

For ministries with feeding programs, DeHart says it's heartbreaking because they can't help everyone. "It gets really difficult when people are standing at the gate begging and you cannot expand the food program to include everybody because you don't know when the next food is coming in."

The food problem will also extend into the classroom. Many poor parents are having to choose between feeding the family on the money they have versus paying tuition for an education.   DeHart expects the crisis will be most visible in the fall, when schoolyards remain silent for lack of students.

Ministry is growing complicated for staff of For Haiti. "They need God's guidance on how to deal with this, because people can't hear the Gospel message over a growling tummy. But we're in a situation where we can't feed all the tummies that are growling."

Pray for wisdom for the team as they act as the hands and feet of Christ in the region. Pray that God would intervene and enable For Haiti access to the food stuffs tied up on the docks, and that those they help would be open to the hope of Christ.

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