By USA and Costa Rica Relief teams (Originally in English)
On October 5, 2016, Hurricane Matthew, the most powerful Caribbean hurricane in nearly a decade, made landfall in Haiti, bringing strong winds of up to 230 kilometers per hour, heavy rains and a dangerous category-four storm. As a result, about 2.1 million people were affected, with 546 lives lost, 438 people injured, and over 141,000 displaced and living in 204 temporary shelters. Since the hurricane, there have been almost 3,500 suspected cholera cases reported. Cities in the southern part of the country, such as Les Cayes and Jérémie, were hit the hardest, where electric poles were blown away and the bridge to the capital city Port-au-Prince was destroyed, leaving the area isolated and without power.
With US$27,000 in relief funds sent by our beloved Supreme Master Ching Hai and remembering Master’s instruction of always helping our fellow humans in need, our United States Association members from Florida, Georgia and Ohio contributed US$205,974 to support the relief work organized by our Florida Center.
Hurricane Relief Effort in Haiti – October 11 to 20, 2016
From October 11 to 20, our seven-member relief team was able to prepare and distribute 2,952 relief packages to affected people on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince and Les Cayes, including the villagers in certain mountainous areas where other charitable organizations had not yet reached. Each package consisted mainly of rice, beans, salt, oil, water, crackers and a sealed bag of bleach for disinfection purposes. As rice and beans are the staple food of the Haitians, the recipients were extremely happy and grateful for the timely assistance.
The relief work would not have been successful without the enthusiastic local helpers that God sent our way. We are grateful to the store manager in Port-au-Prince who gave us a discount for all the supplies we purchased. It was through the connection of the English-speaking owner of the hotel where we stayed that the supplies were transported to the needed areas in time. There was a woman visiting her family in Haiti at that time who extended her stay to serve as an interpreter for us. We cannot forget the local driver who was so friendly, helpful, understanding and respecting of our work.
In these nine days, our team members learned to stay positive and have faith, which allowed us to accomplish things that were considered impossible. For example, one night we managed to pack and load 1,752 relief bags into the truck, almost five times more than what we previously could pack each day.
Even though we knew full well that our effort is like a drop in the ocean, we were encouraged to know that another relief team of our Association members was coming. We hope many NGOs will be able to come to Haiti to deliver aid in the near future. We are most grateful to Master for Her wonderful arrangements during our short relief work in Haiti and for giving us precious lessons to grow.
Costa Rica Team Hurricane Relief Effort in Haiti – October 15 to November 15, 2016
From October 15 to November 15, 2016, our Costa Rica relief team, joined by two USA members, delivered much-needed food and supplies to six orphanages and many families that were among those most-affected by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti.
Within five days of our arrival at Port-au-Prince, we were able to bring vegan food and daily necessities to four orphanages that were in an urgent and desperate situation. The children in the orphanage called Zion, in Arcahaie, had been hungry and praying for many days. Fortunately, God seemed to have heard their prayers and sent us to help them.
In the following week, we drove three big trucks loaded with rice, beans and cooking oil for 1,500 families to Les Cayes. Even though the road was difficult and there were thunderstorms with subsequent flooding and overflowing rivers, we arrived safely. A local pastor, Pastor Jean, kindly allowed us to store the supplies in his guesthouse and use it as a base.
During the next few days, joined by another relief team formed by our USA and Canadian Association members, from October 20 to November 7 we delivered food and supplies to the neediest communities, many of which were in distant and remote areas and had not received any aid. It was challenging to travel on rough roads every day, but when we saw the great happiness in their faces we quickly forgot about the fact that we were tired. We gave 25 pounds of rice to each of the 17,440 families in Torbeck, Wharf Masse, Cavaellon, Camp-Perrin, Jérémie, Maniche, Pestel, Ti Plaine, Chardonnières, Les Anglais, Port-Salut, Baie du Mesle, Morne Montbrun, Roche-à-Bateaux, Fougasse, Boulmier, Vernet, Morne Coquille, Les Cayes, La Caouanne, La Savane, Rue Grossin, La Difference Borlette, Ducis, Labeille, Chantal, Sudre, Bonne Fin, Saut-Mathurine, Derriere Fort and Fond Fred. We also donated medicine to a Christian medical team in Les Cayes, so they would be able to help the victims while visiting some of the communities infected by cholera.
Before leaving, on November 11 and 14, we brought more food and supplies to two orphanages that needed help. We also heard about Merla, a two-day-old baby girl whose mother died the day she was born. We asked the director of the Le Phare Orphanage in Cité Soleil if he could take care of the little baby, and offered monetary help for this special situation. The director kindly said “yes.” Thank God for the opportunity of life for this beautiful baby Merla.
United States and Canada Team Hurricane Relief Effort in Haiti – October 20 to November 7, 2016
From October 20 to November 7, a new team consisting of 24 volunteer members from the United States and Canada continued with Hurricane Matthew relief. Our team of helpers worked together with 15 Haitian locals, some of who are our Association members, to provide aid to different afflicted areas. For almost three weeks, our group of volunteers worked earnestly, forming two groups to best meet the needs of the Haitian people.
Two doctors, three nurses, and interpreters provided families with much-needed medical support, while the rest of the team provided food assistance. For each designated location, a local pastor helped with our services. Medical care was given daily to the hurricane victims in the different communities.
Medical Team Report
As usual, many people showed up for care, and they patiently waited in the 90-degree-plus Fahrenheit (32-degree-plus Celsius) heat. Everyone was very grateful and appreciative for the love that Master gave by sending help. Some of the medical services we provided included casting a fractured wrist, because it was impossible for her to get to a hospital. Several people needed urgent wound care, and many were afflicted with various aches and pains. However, the people of Haiti were resilient and gracious.
Several hundred people and their children lined up for medical care; they were also hungry. From that day on, we decided to also provide vegan food for the patients during clinic hours.
More than 100 patients were seen. Many children had rashes and respiratory infections. In addition to medications, some of the patients were provided with hygiene products including soap, towels and blankets. Furthermore, thanks to our cooking team, all patients were offered a tasty, vegan meal of beans and rice. Radiant smiles and appreciation for Master’s love from the people warmed our hearts.
Medical care and a vegan lunch were once again provided for the entire clinic. During our visit, it was apparent that many children needed school supplies and footwear. Therefore, notebooks, pens and slippers were purchased and distributed during and after clinic hours. These simple gifts were met with such an enormous amount of gratitude. The children were jumping up and down laughing with excitement.
During this visit, a critically ill young patient was brought to the clinic by her parents. She was jaundiced, feverish and extremely weak. The patient needed hospitalization, but her parents were too poor to afford transportation to a hospital in addition to medical care. The patient was immediately escorted by one of our team members to a hospital using our rental truck. Her medicine and hospitalization were paid upfront using the relief fund. We believe that with Master’s arrangement, the clinic took place in her village at the right time, which lead to much-needed medical care.
We visited Laborde again during our sixth day of the clinic, as we were unable to see all of the patients the previous day. Prior to the clinic, while school was in session, notebooks and pens were distributed. Both teachers and schoolchildren received the gifts with great joy.
Many people once again showed up for the clinic. Various infections as well as insomnia and depression were observed. In addition to the medical care, Master’s teachings were offered and well received. During lunch, a simple meal of vegan rice and beans, which we shared with all the patients. Later, many children were overjoyed to receive new sandals and slippers – a small gift to help them walk to school.
At the end of the day, the medical team went to visit the hospitalized patient. With Master’s grace, we were informed that she was doing much better.
Many patients waited from early morning for us to arrive. This village was particularly destitute. Many patients had diabetes and hypertension, but were unable to afford the long-term medications for these conditions. Several patients were given a month’s worth of medications as well as much-needed information regarding these diagnoses. A vegan lunch, school supplies and footwear were once again distributed. Many people also received extra beans and cooking oil to take home.
Food Team Report
While our medical experts were busy providing treatment, the rest of the team concentrated their efforts on food service and distribution. We were asked to provide food aid to afflicted orphanages beginning with the city of Laborde. Three orphanages were visited: Helo Home One consisting of 23 orphaned children, Helo Home Two with 19 orphans, and 17 orphans at Helo Home Three.
Rising early each morning, our kitchen team cooked hearty, vegan meals for the children and team members alike. Each child graciously waited to receive their portion of rice and beans; all of the lovely youngsters were very well-behaved and a delight to serve. We were touched knowing of their great patience and diligence, as our journey there took many hours.
Ducis, Chantal, and Leogane
Basic need items were also gifted to two Restavec Freedom Alliance (RFA) orphanages in the cities of Ducis with 17 children, Chantal with 23 children, and two boys/girls orphanages of La Maison du Sourire (the House of Smiles) in Leogane. Each home was given six bags of rice (50 pounds each), six gallons of vegetable oil, two bags of beans (50 pounds each), two bags of corn flour (50 pounds each), eight packs of spaghetti, two bags of white flour (50 pounds each), one bag of detergent, one bag of bathing soap, one bag of washing soap, one case of tomato paste, a package of toilet paper, two bags of sugar (50 pounds each), and a bucket of bleach. Bags of candy were given as treats for the children, which were met with joyful smiles and cheerful eyes. The local pastor, keen in providing information of such afflicted areas, informed our team members that there had been no help prior to our involvement.
Jérémie, Maniche, Ochaf, and Cafourback
Assessing the dire situation of Jérémie, our relief team planned a six-hour trip to visit the stricken city. Enlisting the help of a local pastor, the police, and a special police unit, our team members were able to safely distribute 1,000 bags of rice to the needy. Each recipient was allotted a ticket, stood in line, and received their grain. As many feared not being able to receive their portion, the distribution process was met with extreme anxiety. Our relief members urged those who missed out to remain calm, as we promised to return with more.
The following day, another 1,000 bags were distributed to victims in Maniche. Upon completion, another 2,000 bags were loaded and ready and delivered the following day to Jérémie’s surrounding cities of Ochaf and Cafourback and to the 55 people in Jérémie to whom we promised to return. Although obstacles were faced, our team members’ unrelenting efforts allowed families to receive their portions of food while preserving each individual’s safety.
Upon arrival at Roche-à-Bateaux, our team members quickly organized the area for distribution. Elderly men and women were given priority alongside pregnant mothers. Males were directed to stand in one line, while females formed another. Our team members were able to efficiently distribute 900 bags of rice before sunset. The remaining 100 bags were given to the village leader to hand out.
During our “rice team’s” final distribution day, we visited the city of Pestel. The poor, mountainous road conditions prevented our driver from being able to get there; it was necessary to continue on foot. As our rice truck found its way back down the mountain, our team members hitched a ride and continued the journey. Seven hundred rice bags and money for vegetable oil were given to poor families. Well aware of the efforts it took to reach his city, the local pastor returned our kindness by offering us warm coffee and bread. Our way back home that night was met with more distress, as our truck was unable to travel the mountain roads. After a two-hour trek, our team members were finally able to arrange for transportation back to base.
Although each journey was long and oftentimes challenging, we are grateful for having been able to successfully distribute rice to each city as planned. The combined efforts of everyone involved allowed for a smooth transition between loading, transporting, and eventual distribution. Even when faced with adversity, the Haitian people’s resilience persevered, allowing hope and light to flourish.
Master’s invisible protection was with us every step of the way. Without Her, none of us could have achieved the difficult tasks in Haiti. We are most blessed having been presented with this opportunity to learn unconditional service towards our fellow beings. May the Haitian people be blessed with much comfort and love during this very difficult time, and may their future be peaceful and prosperous.
Expenditures Thus Far by The Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association for Hurricane Matthew Relief Work in Haiti
|Relief supplies (rice, beans, oil, salt, water, crackers, sealed bags of bleach)||16,761||A|
|Transportation, packing materials, storage space rental and other expenses||3,998|
|Food (rice, beans, white flour, corn flour, sugar, spaghetti, tomato paste, cooking oil) and basic necessities (bath soap, toilet paper, bleach and detergent)||86,530||
|Transportation (Air tickets, food, gasoline and hotel) and miscellaneous expenses||22,770|
|Food (rice, beans, oil, flour, sugar, spaghetti, tomato paste and cookies) soap, drinking water, bleach, detergent, toilet paper||80,693||C|
|Transportation (vehicle rental and drivers)||8,046|
|Miscellaneous expenses (hotel, storage, refrigerator rental, telephone, food, interpreters, etc.)||10,069|
Hurricane Matthew Relief Work in Haiti – October 11 to 20, 2016
Hurricane Matthew Relief Work in Haiti – October 15 to November 15, 2016
Hurricane Matthew Relief Work in Haiti – October 20 to November 7, 2016
Relief Aid for Orphanages