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Hurricane Matthew relief: not a Band-Aid fix

By October 28, 2016

Haiti (MNN) — It’s been three weeks since Hurricane Matthew battered the southern part of Haiti. The reverberating effects of this massive storm will continue to echo through the next several weeks and months long after the news has quieted.

But when Hurricane Matthew becomes another tab in the list of natural disaster occurrences, Mission Aviation Fellowship will still be stationed on the ground in Haiti, enabling relief efforts for the revitalization of communities.

At least 806,000 people in Haiti need emergency food assistance, and 116,000 children aren’t in school. Cholera cases are on the rise.

The delivery of supplies to Dame Marie, Haiti, which was devastated by the hurricane. (Photo courtesy of Paul O'Brien with MAF)

The delivery of supplies to Dame Marie, Haiti, which was devastated by the hurricane. (Photo courtesy of Paul O’Brien with MAF)

MAF’s Haiti program manager David Carwell says currently, “We are deeply concerned about the people of Haiti and in the southwest part where it was hit so bad. It took awhile for communication links to come back online. We actually took an inflatable satellite dish to one village and got it set up until the cellphone companies were back online.

“Now we’re beginning to get the stories in of what actually happened that night that the storm passed through. We’re hearing how families would gather in a circle, and then as their roof blew off, they’d see, ‘What house could we go to next?’ Some just ended up in the open, just enduring the storm as it passed.”

MAF has transported at least 15 different ministries and organizations involved in aid and relief. As such, they’re getting a big-picture of what various mission organizations are seeing with their ministry partners in Haiti.

“For example,” says Carwell, “one group we fly for regularly, they are supporting 23 churches and schools. They found out that 20 of those are severely damaged or destroyed.”

Most of MAF’s flights involve transporting passengers. But they have also flown cargo and food such as rice and beans to needy areas.

Carwell explains, “The cargo could really go best by road, we don’t need to fly it, except that now people are so desperate that there’s a security issue in getting it out to the people who really need it. In other words, there have been fights that break out and along the road as trucks take supplies out, they’ve just been attacked and looted, and that’s a big concern.”

The revitalization process from Hurricane Matthew will require more than a Band-Aid fix.

“I wouldn’t claim to be an expert, but from what I’m learning, these types of disasters run a cycle. We’re in that phase right now where we have gathered information and seeing what the needs are. We’re definitely concerned about food supplies, because the people were dependent on the land, and the gardens and trees are wiped out. So the ongoing needs of a livelihood as well as being able to eat, it’s going to be longer-term before those trees, those gardens are re-planted and able to supply food again.”

Rebuilding homes and shelter is another major issue the people of Haiti face. And it’s not that they lack supplies…

The delivery of supplies to Dame Marie, Haiti, which was devastated by the hurricane. (Photo courtesy of Vaughan Woodward with MAF)

The delivery of supplies to Dame Marie, Haiti, which was devastated by the hurricane. (Photo courtesy of Vaughan Woodward with MAF)

“Haiti has materials available,” Carwell says, “but it’s a matter of having the money and the resources to get them out to the people that really need them. I see that reconstruction project taking a year or longer. That’s based on what we saw from the earthquake … we’re now six years later and there are still things that are in progress.”

Has your church or school thought about organizing a mission trip? Now would be the perfect time to look into sending skilled workers who could rebuild shelters in Haiti, and actively serve as the Body of Christ.

“I think we’re going to see the need for mission teams…. Those that are going to rebuild roofs for churches and schools, that takes time to organize and the actual rebuilding of those shelters will take some time.”

Meanwhile, the MAF team in Haiti desperately needs more pilots, mechanics, and even accountants or finance people. If that’s you, MAF in Haiti would love to have you join them in ministry.

They could also use another permanent aircraft in their fleet, but don’t currently have the funds. Carwell says a Cessna Caravan plane would be ideal. Click here to be a financial encouragement to MAF’s Haiti team.

Carwell transparently shares, “We’re stretched, our team is stretched, and we could use another airplane and more staff. I would love to see our program grow to meet the ongoing needs. Fortunately, we’re part of an organization that can pull people in for short periods of time. We’ve had 10 or 12 people come in, extra pilots, mechanics, and logistic people to come and help us with this surge support and an extra plane. But we really need a permanent plane here and more staff to keep it going regularly.”

Ultimately, the MAF team and planes are tools in God’s hands serving those in Haiti whose lives have been devastated just in the last few weeks. Please lift up the people of Haiti and MAF in prayer.

“We’d ask you to pray for our team, just that we would be well-organized, efficient, and really support the work of the church and I would ask you to pray for the spiritual needs of Haiti. We would like to see that this relief effort we’re involved in would really demonstrate the love of Christ to the community, and they would see that it’s the Church that’s responding to their needs and that people would turn to Christ.”

Carwell closes with a thought of gratitude:

“I’m thankful for those who have come to help us. We are so involved in this process that we’re just ‘go, go, go’. But I just want to pause and say thank you to people all across the United States and around the world who have either sent people to help us or sent resources or are in prayer for us. We can’t measure the effect of that, and we just say thank you to all that are involved and concerned about these needy people.”

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