You came with chainsaws, tarps, hammers and heart; you emailed, called, prayed and gave of your resources; you lifted us up with your love and concern… and for all this we are truly grateful.
The impact of this storm will be with us for some time. The people of southwest Haiti have been hit hard at a time when Haiti finally seemed to be finding some stable ground. Homes, schools, churches and food sources have been destroyed and many people are waiting, hoping that aid will soon find them.
While Restavek Freedom is not a relief organization, we could not turn our backs on the destruction that has occurred among our friends, partners, employees and larger Restavek Freedom family. This is why we packed our bags and headed out immediately, being one of the first to arrive on the ground in Port Salut. When we reached out to our support base, you responded with one question, “How can we help?”
So many have generously donated. Teams were quickly assembled and on the ground within 48 hours – absolutely amazing! Teams from Life Church, Worship Center, Living Room and Church of the Highlands brought equipment and worked tirelessly. More teams are preparing to come, and it is obvious the depth of love people have for this little country called Haiti.
To date, we have delivered more than 40,000 pounds of food, including more than 1,000 family relief packs complete with cooking oil, protein-rich rice, flour, and water tablets, impacting thousands of children throughout the community. We have helped repair or create temporary shelter for hundreds of famlies and children, and dug 2 wells to provide families access to safe water, a consistently urgent issue since the hurricane. In addition, we have completed a survey of the greater southern peninsula and are continuing to assess the needs of our network of churches and partners through site visits in the entire affected region in order to develop our plan of action. Our teams and staff have cleared multiple roads and utility access areas to enable authorities in their work to restore services.
The need is great and the road ahead is long. If you have not already, join us in providing help and hope: https://restavekfreedom.org/relief. Below we detail our plan of action and next steps.
We are strategically targeting the 76 localities around Port Salut, representing 21,398 people, and will also support our network of partners reaching the entire southern peninsula. Our response is divided into three main stages.
Immediate Relief (First 8-10 weeks):
Our focus in this stage is to meet immediate needs through food, water, medical care, debris removal, and temporary shelter. We’re bringing in skilled teams to distribute food, addressing medical needs, opening routes of supply and relief, and empowering local authorities to restore services.
Recovery (1-3 months)
Through strategic assessment and calculated efforts, our focus in this stage is to identify where the greatest vulnerabilities are and the best opportunities for immediate impact. We are seeking to reach those hardest to reach while also helping in ways that will do the most good for the most people.
Rebuilding (3 months – 2 years)
The scale of this disaster is hard to convey, and the rebuilding efforts for a region this poor will continue for many years to come. Our primary role in this stage is to empower communities through healthy development practices to rebuild their structure, their food sources, and their economies.
Why disaster relief?
Restavek Freedom is narrowly focused on ending child slavery in Haiti. We are not a relief organization, but our work freeing children and empowering a cultural movement necessitates a grassroots, community-level effort, which has brought us here at such a time as this. If we want to accomplish our mission of ending the system of restavek, we must respond to this need.
Our immediate response is driven by compassion for the crisis gripping our employees and members of the greater Restavek Freedom family.
Our long-term goals of freeing children, developing essential grassroots relationships, and mobilizing a movement to end the practice of restavek demand we respond. This disaster significantly increases the risks of that children will be trafficked or sent into restavek. Our path to a healthy community standing up for the freedom of all children includes a strong response to this need.
Throughout the remainder of 2016, we will continue to focus on food and water distribution as well as shelter provision. We will continue to assess our long-term capacity to assist our partners, support families and children to minimize the risk of children going into restavek, and empower the community to rebuild.
There is a great need for long-term partners to come alongside the Port Salut community in this effort, so please consider how you can help, and please do forward this on to those you believe may be willing to stand with us. Help now: http://www.restavekfreedom.org/relief
Ray and Joan Conn