Haiti (MNN) — The World Food Program sounded an alarm over a persistent drought in northwest Haiti that has made a dire food shortage worse.
Government statistics showed that about 43% of households in Haiti’s northwest suffer from food insecurity–about 13% more than in other places in the country. Whil the headquarters of For Haiti With Love are in Cap Haitien–a coastal city squarely in the north, the problems with food insecurity trickle into their region quickly.
Just 40 miles away, to the west of Cap Haitien, food insecurity is getting serious for Port-de-Paix and points further west like Bassin-Bleu, Jean-Rabel, Mole St Nicolas, Bombardopolis, and Baie de Henne.
Since roughly 75% of the population lives below the poverty line, even a small hike hurts. Two years ago, prices for beans, rice, and other staples soared by nearly 40%, prompting riots. While the tensions seem to have calmed, the volatility in the cost of living hasn’t steadied much.
At the same time, according to For Haiti, unemployment hit nearly 80%, industry wasn’t returning, and it became necessary to start feeding people to keep them alive. For Haiti With Love was working with a supplier that provided meals of nutritionally-balanced rice, soy, dehydrated veggies, beef or chicken flavoring, and vitamins. Each pallet of food contains 7,128 meals (package is 6 meals).
Then, everything dried up. For Haiti president Eva Dehart explains, “We haven’t had any food for the food program for this year, and we started running out in December. The organization that was donating cut back majorly on their Haiti donations.” Not only did they lose their supplier, but they also started losing funding. “I’m kind of looking at that cutback as a part of God’s overall plan because our contributions have gone down to the point where I wouldn’t have been able to handle the food containers that we were shipping.”
Their feeding program provided dignity for the families. Rather than having a soup kitchen, they ask families to come to the For Haiti with Love headquarters with their record card. There is a picture on file, also. They receive the correct number of food packets (6 meals each) to feed their family for one week. The food packets are also supplemented with beans, and in some cases, charcoal and oil.
The good news is: “We do have one container on its way, so we will be able to take care ofthe most desperate in need soon,” says DeHart. The container left the Minneapolis area last week, with another one due for shipping in June. The next container to go out needs $13,000 to get it off the dock. Those funds cover cargo transportation, trucking, and wharf fees. However, it might be too little too late, and there’s nothing in the pipeline right now to fill an already empty warehouse, worries DeHart. “I’m sure we’ve lost some along the way.”
At its peak strength, she notes, “We were up to right around 5,000 [people in the feeding program], and they were doing that three days a week, all month.” With no food shipments since December, no one knows for sure what kind of impact a three-month lapse has had. The shipment due to arrive in the next week or so will have to be rationed. “We’ll have to be very frugal and give it only to the neediest, so we’re hoping for at least four months.”
Somewhere along the line, you might be wondering, “Isn’t For Haiti With Love a ministry? Where does the Gospel come into play in this story?” In the feeding program, relationships were built with the families getting supplies. There were church partners working, which presented Gospel opportunities. But now, if there’s no food, there are no people and no outreach. “We really need to pray for more people to get concerned about Haiti and more people to help share the burden of helping down there, but direct financial aid is what we really need right now.”