Five years ago, Haiti was rocked by a massive earthquake. Catastrophic is the best descriptive word that comes to mind. It would have been bad enough if this earthquake had happened anywhere else- it was incredibly destructive. A quarter of a million homes and apartments collapsed, along with 30,000 businesses. Over fifty aftershocks measuring 4.5 or higher occurred over the next two weeks, and those are still pretty good sized earthquakes.
We don't know how many people died in the earthquake, because the Haitian government issued some inflated casualty numbers in the aftermath. Outside sources agree that the number is definitely over 100,000, maybe up to 160,000. Morgues were inundated with the bodies of those who died. Tent cities were constructed to house the displaced.
Five years is a long time, by some measurements. Remember the Christmas Tsunami from five years ago? The southeast Asian nations affected by that disaster have made tremendous progress since then. Yes, the poverty in that area has slowed some of the rebuilding efforts, but in some ways, they are doing pretty well. But Haiti, not so much.
Haiti has a very complicated history. The Haitian people have so much to be proud of. In the 17th century, they were the richest colony in the French Empire. Haiti was known as the "pearl of the Antilles." At the beginning of the 19th century, Haiti became the world's first black republic, after ex-slave Toussaint L’Ouverture led the colonialists in revolt. Haiti's home to gorgeous beaches and stunning mountains, an incredibly interesting history and culture. And yet, for a variety of reasons, it is such a hard place to live. Some organizations consider it to be the poorest country in the world- it is definitely the poorest in the Western Hemisphere. Government corruption is out of control. Haitians are fleeing the country, either going to their neighbors in the Dominican Republic (which has resulted in some harsh anti-immigration laws) or risking their lives in makeshift rafts and boats, trying to make it to the United States or another country across the waters.
Because of the poverty, the government corruption, and other tremendously sad factors, Haiti has not recovered well from the earthquake five years ago. Despite billions of dollars in foreign aid, and millions of those donated by ordinary citizens, people are still living in tents. Family members are still unaccounted for. People are still looking for jobs, after losing theirs five years ago. And impoverished conditions are a breeding ground for more problems like disease malnutrition, a bias against education....it's a cycle of tremendous sadness.
Haiti has a very special place in my heart. I knew a little about it before the earthquake- my favorite professor in college loved Haitian and Dominican history, and frequently traveled there. He taught about those countries in just about every class, whether you'd think they were relevant or not. The earthquake happened right after Brandon and I got married- I remember waking up that morning and hearing about it, and my stomach just sunk. Natural disasters are scary enough, but I knew about how hard life was in Haiti before the quake, and it made me sick and sad to think of how hard things were going to be after. The next week was full of heartbreaking stories- some with happy endings, some not. So many people were lost. It is still so sad to think about. The following year, we received Joane as our first correspondence child. She didn't live in one of the cities most heavily affected by the disaster, but she had lost friends and family members. Haiti started to take up more room in my heart. And then my friends adopted my little buddy A from there, and I was won over. I love that kid so much. My heart is heavily invested in Haiti now. I had been working on fundraising to go there with Compassion (that's on hold at the moment, but I still hope to go someday, whether with them or my church.) And Brandon and I want to adopt from there when we meet the age requirements set by the Haitian government. We have friends who have recently started the process, and while I'm excited for them, I'm also super jealous! We have a few years to go before we meet the minimum age requirements set by some agencies. Life is full of waiting. But, Lord willing, it will happen someday!
Life in Haiti is hard, but not hopeless. There will always be hope as long as people are willing to help. One way you can help Haiti is by investing in the life of a child there. It sounds cliche, but children are the future. They're the ones who are going to grow up to be doctors, teachers, and politicians. They're going to be the world changers. They're the conduit for hope. I would have written this post even if I didn't advocate for Compassion, but I do want you to know that there are precious little ones waiting for a sponsor in Haiti, and you can change their lives. Getting a sponsor is such a joyous occasion for these families. There's assurance that their children will get the assistance they need to grow up healthy and strong, in a nation with the highest percentage of orphans in the world. A nation where only half the adults know how to read and write, and only 10% of students make it through high school. Where one in 10 children doesn't make it to the age of 5. Where over 80% of all people live under the poverty line, and half the people live in abject poverty. Sponsorship means tutoring, nutritious meals at the center, emergency assistance, clean water, medical and dental check-ups, encouragement from the staff and from a loving sponsor, and most importantly, it means sharing Jesus with these kids and their families. What better source of hope can they have?
These beautiful Haitian kids are all waiting for sponsors. Will you end their wait today?
Lucmanise is 3 years old. She lives with her mom, dad, and a sibling. Her parents are unemployed, and adults who are able to find work in her region work as subsistence farmers for about $33 a month. Lucmanise likes singing and running.
Roudlin is 4 years old. He lives with his mom, dad, and three siblings. He loves soccer and he's currently going to preschool. People in Roudlin's region face a lot of health problems, and they are in need of schools and employment opportunities.
Ansica is 5 years old. She lives with her mom and dad and one sibling. She likes playing hide and seek and other games with her friends. People in her region are in desperate need of clean water.
Wilson is 6 years old. He lives with his mom and dad and two siblings. He has been waiting almost a year for a sponsor. Wilson is struggling in school, and would especially benefit from the encouragement of a sponsor.
Rose-Dana is 8 years old. She has been waiting over six months for a sponsor. She lives with her grandfather and her mom. Rose-Dana likes to sing in the choir.