STORY UPDATED AS OF 20 OCTOBER 2016
Haiti (MNN) — The devastating impact of Hurricane Matthew continues to takes its toll on the people of Haiti. To date, 87 Compassion International church partners and child development centers are temporarily closed due to damage, 83 centers have received significant damage or have been destroyed, and more than 11,097 Compassion-assisted children or their homes have been impacted or injured, with 6,920 children requiring relocation. Three children, 33 caregivers, and six siblings have died as a result of Hurricane Matthew. One hundred Compassion-assisted children have yet to be located, and assessment continues.
Current damage assessments reveal millions of dollars in recovery and rebuilding needs. Edouard Lassegue, Vice President of Latin America and Caribbean Regions for Compassion, says the two immediate priorities are short-term food security for the children and their families, and providing clean-up and repairs to local churches to ensure shelter for families displaced by the storm.
Compassion focuses its efforts on equipping the local church to serve children and families. Lassegue says that focus continues, even in times of crisis.
“When it comes to the response in times like this, whatever donation or support that we bring, we actually equip the local church so the local church is the distributing agent. And when crisis like this occurs, support is not limited only to the children who are registered in our program. We want the church to be the Church as it cares for all in need.”
Helping partner churches restore operations has a second and significant impact on the long-term healing of families in the communities.
“When a disaster like that happens and the lives of those children are so disrupted, it is extremely important for the children to actually find an opportunity to regroup, for them to come back to their gathering place where they can meet with other children, where they can be protected, where they can be cared for — even if it’s just for a few hours a day.”
In addition to giving children a safe place for play, worship, teaching, and prayer, Lassegue says trauma care is embedded into Compassion’s disaster relief model.
“In situations like these, we deploy a cadre of Christian counselors who work not only with the children, but also with their families. They also work with the church leaders to help those church leaders identify what are some of the behaviors that would be characteristic of a child who is going through an anxiety attack, for instance. And they work with the parents to also help their children deal with those type of situations.”
Lassegue says there are two ways people can provide support to Compassion and their local church partners. “First, pray for those people in need, and pray for the people bringing support. Pray for wisdom and discernment for us, that we will make decisions that will help without hurting — that we will focus on meeting needs that will contribute to long-term health for churches and families. And then, please give. Providing financial resources will make possible the relief and the rebuilding and the equipping of those churches and partners that have suffered so much.”
Contribute to Compassion’s Haiti hurricane relief efforts now.