On January 12, 2010 Haiti was forever changed

A massive earthquake shook the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, affecting 3 million people. 230,000 lives were lost. It was one of the worst natural disasters this generation has seen. But out of the dust and rubble, hope is rising. Hearts are healing. Lives are being rebuilt. We will not give up on Haiti. People are still suffering and cholera is spreading throughout the country. A million people remain homeless, but we’re here for the long haul. Are you? Will you help? Together, we can change lives. Help heal Haiti.

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Collapsed School Hatian Lady Makeshift Hospital Covering Mouths Hospital Beds Ladies Praying Intial Aid Haitian Grandma Cash for Work Repaired House Carpenter House Construction Widzer Hurricane Tomas Boy With Cholera Cholera Kits Cholera Training Haitian Graffiti Girl Behind Rebar Children

Large Scale Disaster Strikes

It’s hard to fathom the destruction that took place in just 35 seconds of violent shaking on January 12. Even photos don’t do justice to the sweeping devastation that leveled mile after mile of buildings and neighborhoods. In the days and weeks that followed, those who saw it struggled to put it into words. The trauma is etched in the minds of those who experienced it first-hand.

The 7.0 earthquake that shook Haiti left in its wake one of the largest scale humanitarian disasters of our time.

Stories of Survival

Alourde Souffrant Alourde Souffrant

Alourde Souffrant

Alourde Souffrant

Experiencing a massive earthquake is terrifying. But imagine feeling the ground shake and trying to find your way to safety if you couldn’t see.

“Please Jesus, have mercy! Do not leave me!”

Alourde Souffrant, a blind mother of three, was at home on Jan. 12, 2010. When her home began shaking, Alourde found herself screaming, “Please Jesus, have mercy! Do not leave me!” That desperate prayer was answered when her neighbors heard her screams and pulled her out of her house just seconds before it collapsed.

Before the earthquake, Alourde had learned to live independently, working as a merchant selling seasonal produce at a nearby market. After the disaster, she was forced to live under the stairs of a neighbor’s house. With limited space, her children had to stay with family and friends, dispersed throughout Port-au-Prince.

The healing process has begun for Alourde’s family, who were able to be reunited and are now living in a transitional shelter. “This new home will allow me to be with my children again,” she said, smiling.

Carle Carle

Carle

Carle

Carle was working down the road when the earthquake hit. As buildings crumbled around him, he started running towards home, where his wife and children were. His house was severely damaged, but still standing. His neighbors’ home had collapsed, trapping its occupants inside.

“The memory of my neighbors’ corpses haunt me every day.”

Carle worked frantically to rescue his neighbors, but by the time he was able to reach them, most of them had died. The memory of their corpses led to post traumatic stress, which Carle attempted to quell by drinking.

Read the rest of Carle’s story.

Bernato Germeil Bernato Germeil

Bernato Germeil

Bernato Germeil

Bernato Germeil lost his wife of 11 years, Gladys, in the earthquake. Miraculously, his 18-month-old daughter, Doudline, was found alive in the arms of her mother, buried in the rubble of their collapsed house. His 6-year-old son, Berwens, had been playing at a friend’s house and also survived.

For seven months he and his two young children lived under tattered tarps held up by wood poles on the side of the road near their former home. Bernato was among the first people to receive a transitional shelter from World Concern. It has given him the strength to keep going, he says.

“I live my life for my kids now. I must move on for them,” he said. “This house is the first thing I’ve been given since the earthquake, and after so much has been taken, it’s nice to receive.”

A Look Back at the First Year

For all the progress that has been made this first post-earthquake year, there is much left to do. An estimated one million people are still homeless. More than 100,000 have been sickened by cholera. Millions more are still grieving.

Yet in the midst of the struggle, we celebrate stories of healing, renewed hope, fresh starts. We’ve seen it in those we’ve helped. Their eyes reflect humble gratitude when the crumbled walls of their home are rebuilt. Their heads are lifted when they earn a paycheck to feed their families.

Stories of Healing

Alourde Souffrant Joseph

Joseph

Joseph

Eighteen- year-old Joseph, his mother, sister and three brothers all made it out of their collapsed home alive after the earthquake. But immediately after they had to separate—he and his mom moved into a tent, and his siblings have been staying with his aunt.

The months after the disaster were painful for him. He witnessed family after family struggling to survive after losing everything. But when we met him, he was excited to move into his new house, provided by World Concern, where the rest of his family would soon join him.

The aftershocks that rocked Haiti didn’t really scare him. He feels safe and comfortable here, he said, because it’s built of plywood and not concrete.

Mie Marlene Mie Marlene

Mie Marlene

Mie Marlene

Sweat pours from Mie Marlene Pierre’s face as she shovels piles of concrete rubble in the hot midday sun. It’s back-breaking work, but she’s thankful for the money she earns at the end of the day, which pays for food for herself and her four children.

She used to wash clothes and cook for school children for a living, but the house and the school where she worked both collapsed in the earthquake. Their home was also destroyed, and her oldest child, who is 11, was injured in the earthquake and has been fighting an infection. For now, they live under tarps on the side of the street.

World Concern’s Cash for Work program pays Mie Marlene to clear rubble. She smiles while she works, knowing that having an income in the aftermath of disaster is a blessing, and that earning cash to support her family each day is the first step in rebuilding her life.

Church One Church's Story

Bearing fruit once again

Church

Pastor Frujuste Pierre was outside the city of Port-au-Prince the afternoon of Jan. 12, 2010. Normally the 400-member congregation of L’Eglise Alliance de la Grace holds a Tuesday afternoon Bible study, but on this particular day Pastor Frujuste was attending his father-in-law’s funeral. The congregation had traveled to the small town where the funeral service was held.

When they returned to Port-au-Prince, they found their church building in complete ruins. Every Tuesday of the year they would meet in this building. This was the one week they didn’t. “It was God’s grace to spare us,” said Pastor Frujuste.

With grateful hearts for God’s mercy to them, the congregation now provides lunch for 100 poor children in their community every day of the week. World Concern has assisted Pastor Frujuste by paying his salary, replacing the church benches and providing temporary shelter.

What We've Done Together

World Concern's Progress Since January 2010

  • 7,091 Haitians employed through Cash for Work program
  • 1,284 houses have been repaired for Haitian families
  • 530 transitional shelters have been constructed
  • 989 livelihood grants were given out getting Haitian business owners back to work
  • 32 churches were repaired or rebuilt

Jillian's Story of Survival

Jillian

Jillian Thorp and a coworker were trapped for 10 hours under the first floor of a two-story building that collapsed in the earthquake. A door had fallen on top of them, miraculously protecting them from being hammered by debris. Another miracle is that Jillian had fallen with her cell phone.

“It was almost like having a dizzy spell; then things started to fall off tables. About 10 seconds later, everything came down around us.”
Although she couldn’t call out, she received several phone calls from friends in the U.S. and was able to tell them she was trapped and needed help. The last call she received was from her husband, Frank, who was working about six hours north of Port-au-Prince. “He said, ‘We’re coming,’” she remembers. Then the phone line cut, leaving them without communication.

Read Jillian’s story of survival.

Praises rise from the Rubble

susan

I was afraid as I packed my bags for Haiti. It wasn’t fear for my personal safety. Instead it was concern that I was ill equipped to offer comfort, help or healing for my Haitian colleagues and their neighbors.

As I traveled to Haiti, I thought about what Haitians were going through. Imagine if we had a major earthquake in the U.S. that destroyed 30 percent of our population and property. Imagine not knowing the fate of your child—trapped, dead or alive, lost or stolen. Imagine facing the loss of a limb or a future of caring for a spouse who became emotionally or mentally impaired in the quake. Imagine not having access to insurance, government services or any safety net other than international aid. Imagine every family living under a tarp, camping in a muddy field, hoping someone offers a bag of rice and a bucket of water. Imagine our church building reduced to rubble and gathering on a Sunday morning under a blue tarp in the parking lot, every family grieving the loss of a child, a parent, a nephew, a grandchild, homes, or jobs. Would we have the courage to worship? Would our questions demand answers? Would our faith hold?

As I went through customs, I tried to prepare myself for the worst. On every street, I saw remnants of multi-storied buildings that, during 35 seconds of twisting rebar and cracking cement, had pancaked to less than six feet, each cement floor coming to rest directly on the one below, as the supporting walls and pillars blew out in a cloud of dust. The destruction was endless.

On Sunday, my colleagues invited me to attend church. I didn’t know what to expect. Unbelievably, incongruently, our Haitian brothers and sisters were not just gathering to comfort and support each other. They were singing with joyful abandon and full-throttled, unbelievable voices, faces lit by God’s glory. How is this possible? I sat on a rickety wooden bench under a blue tarp next to a crumbled sanctuary, blinking back tears, witnessing the unimaginable. Though sung in Creole, the tunes were unmistakably familiar: worship choruses, traditional hymns, praise bursting from the rubble. Not just a faithful few--hundreds gathered, in some places, thousands, shoulder to shoulder, and, when all the seats were taken, standing at the edges or even out under the tropical sun. Rich Caribbean voices praising, worshipping, Haiti style--rhythmic, melodious, clapping, laughing, get-up-and-move worship. They sing because they have something, Someone to sing about--the God who was, who is and who is to come.

Where does a congregation, who, 60 days before, had lost so much, find the strength to worship with such abandon? Is it cultural, psychological or mythological? Is it a means of survival or a way of denying reality? No, I’m convinced that it was genuine faith born of the experiential knowledge that when we’ve hit rock bottom, we discover that we’ve fallen into the loving arms of God. He has not and will not abandon us, regardless of our circumstances.

I went to Haiti, fearful that I would prove to be one of Job’s comforters, that I would encounter people, bitter and broken, rattling the heavens with whys and I would have nothing to offer them that could possibly touch their sorrows. I thought I’d need to find a way to encourage them in their faith. Instead, I discovered that God Himself was reason enough to celebrate. I joined them in praise of Him, finding joy in the rubble.

Susan Talbot is World Concern’s Gift-in-Kind Manager who distributed goods in Haiti in February 2010.

January 14, 2010

World Concern Haiti Country Director Christon Domond is able to contact World Concern Headquarters.

February 1, 2010

Dave Eller, World Concern President receives a $3,641 donation from a six year old Mill Creek, WA boy. Private donations continued to pour in to World Concern – a total of $2,500,000 from foundations, corporations and individuals.

March 22, 2010

Over two months after the earthquake – the answer to what people need most is still as simple as ever: WATER.

June 3, 2010

World Concern relief efforts expand into Fort National, one of the most severely hit neighborhoods.

July 13, 2010

World Concern’s Derek Sciba tells stories of Haitians and why we can’t give up on Haiti.


The Road to Recovery

Haiti Update Video From the time of the earthquake, predictions have been made about how long it will take to rebuild Haiti. Some say five years; others say 10. We’ve known all along it will be an arduous process. World Concern has served in Haiti for more than 30 years, and we’re not leaving any time soon. We will carry on building and repairing homes, providing jobs and income opportunities, and we’ll continue our crusade to save lives by teaching people how to protect themselves from cholera and other preventable diseases.

One person, one family, one neighborhood at a time, we’ll help Haiti start over.

One year has passed, but it’s only the first of many years that will see healing and hope spreading across Haiti. Please walk with us on this long road to recovery.


Join Us in Praying for Haiti

  • Please pray that more people would be reached with life-saving cholera prevention information and that the disease would stop spreading.
  • Pray that there would be no further rioting or violence during Haiti’s election, and nothing would hinder the humanitarian work there.
  • Keep the people who are still homeless after the earthquake in prayer – that they would be able to work and return to their neighborhoods and find housing.
  • Please pray for wisdom and endurance for all aid workers. There is much work left to be done and many road blocks and difficulties.
  • Pray that people would be moved to support the ongoing rebuilding efforts in Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas.