The devastation of Haiti’s earthquake shook many students’ lives. Families have been torn apart and hearts were broken around the world for the people of Haiti.
Churches, individuals and secular agencies have come together to provide food, water and shelter to the millions suffering from the quake’s damage.
Hope for the Hungry, a local ministry, has developed a relationship with Haitians over a span of 27 years. During this time, Hope’s president Dan
Kirkley and his team have built two orphanages: a boys’ home in Guibert and a girls’ home in Ferrier. They also support seven churches and a school of 400 students in the community of Guibert.
The organization sent its first relief group, which included Kirkley, alumna and children’s ministry leader Jen Sutton and senior finance major and Hope
financial development director Lindsey Weaver after the tragedy occurred.
Guibert is 15 miles directly up a mountain from the country’s capital Port au Prince. It’s evident to see which surrounding towns were affected by the 7.1 quake. The girls’ home in Ferrier was untouched since it is located in northern Haiti — far from the epicenter of the quake.
Weaver said the team flew into the northern part of Haiti and drove through the mountain range and the city of Port au Prince. It took them 12 hours.
Distance wise, travel from Ferrier to Guibert would be “like from (Belton) to Dallas.”
Once they came to Port au Prince, people were everywhere. Tent cities, which are shelters made of sheets, are constructed in the middle of roads, covering what used to be green grassy areas.
Arriving in Guibert, they were relieved to know the boys were OK.
Structurally, the boys’ home stands firm since it was built to a higher standard by Americans.
“Fifty percent of the homes fell. Thirty percent of them are damaged, so they can’t move back into them because if there were any aftershocks, they would fall,” Weaver said. “Not one person died. It was a complete miracle.”
Guibert will continue to be Hope’s main focus, and currently, they are the only aid group on the mountain.
“It’s not just an occasional house here and there. The mountain is still densely populated,” she said. “A lot of our students’ homes have fallen, so we need to make sure they are taken care of, fed and given clean water.”
Plans for rebuilding Guibert are underway. Hope’s first construction team will begin the process over spring break.
“We’re developing the discipleship curriculum. When we lay the foundation, we’ll talk about how God should be the foundation of your life, and he’s the Rock and what that means in the cornerstone of your home,” Weaver said. “Right now we’re just praying for a revival.”
Assistant director of the Campus Activities Board Jeff Sutton is supporting Hope with spring break team training.
“Everyone (has been) sleeping outside because they don’t feel safe,” he said. “The memories of the earthquake haunt them.”
The team will begin the structural and community rebuilding process. They want to complete one, possibly two, homes during the week.
“The plan is to do a one room home with a concrete slab that is big enough for them to add on,” Sutton said.
They are working through a church in Guibert, so the community will continually be supported when the teams leave. Throughout the summer, Hope will be sending specially trained groups.
“I’ll be going back hopefully multiple times this summer,” Weaver said.
Until construction is complete, Haitians still need proper shelter while homes are being rebuilt
“We still need people to donate tents,” Weaver said.
UMHB is hosting a Haiti benefit concert at various locations on campus March 4-5. The two-day event will cost $15. Multiple bands will be performing and Sole2Soul will be taking shoe donations to give to Haitians.
Junior art major Alyssa Dickinson is heading the event.
“It went from an idea in SGA into rolling into something,” she said. “By the next week we had bands booked, and it really just fell into place.”
Weaver is overjoyed to see that her fellow university students are working together to financially support a worthy cause.
“A big thing that has changed my life forever is the hope of the people,” Weaver said. “They are so inspiring.”