A girl stands in the devastated center of Port-au-Prince, which was ravaged by a Jan. 12 earthquake.
Canadian Anglican donations to the appeal for the victims of the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti one month ago have reached more than $1. 5 million as of Feb.11, reports the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF), the relief and development arm of the Anglican Church of Canada.
These donations, along with on-line/telephone donations received by midnight (adjusted for various time zones) of Feb.12, as well as cheques mailed and postmarked Feb. 12 are eligible for matching funds from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the federal government’s international aid agency. Also eligible are donations from parishes, mailed after Feb. 12 and accompanied by a letter stating “Donations received on or before February 12, 2010.”
PWRDF is extending “thanks and sincere appreciation of this incredible response in such austere times,” said Jill Martin, PWRDF finance and administration team leader. Martin said PWRDF has until Feb. 26 to inform CIDA about how much funds are eligible for a matching grant.
PWRDF has sent an initial $50,000 to Action by Churches Together (ACT) International, a global alliance of church-based agencies working in emergencies worldwide, of which PWRDF is a member. Another $50,000 was sent to the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti, which has been caring for more than 20,000 Haitians left homeless by the 7.0 magnitude earthquake.
In the coming weeks, PWRDF will be assessing how the funds would be put to best use in Haiti, said Naba Gurung, humanitarian response co-ordinator.
As Haitians marked the first month since the earthquake, ACT workers on the ground have reported that logistical challenges notwithstanding, humanitarian aid “is getting to those who need it; aid pipelines are opening up, and rehabilitation programs are already beginning.” Tommy Bouchiba, acting country director for ACT/Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe, said the overall situation “is getting better.”
Since Jan. 12, the ACT Alliance has been assisting more than 150,000 people, providing them with temporary shelter, water, food supplies, sanitation, medical assistance, and in some cases, cash to buy food. Along with other non-governmental organizations, the ACT Alliance has assisted survivors in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and the neighbouring suburbs of Gressier, Jacmel and Bainet.
Still, ACT described the situation as “grim” for many Haitians who are in limbo about what lies ahead for them. “In Jacmel, on Haiti’s southern coast, members of one of many ‘solidarity groups’ of friends and neighbors that have opted not to move to displacement camps and instead to stay together on borrowed land, said they don’t know how long they will remain in and around the grounds of Jacmel’s Wesleyan Methodist Church,” ACT reported on its website. “It could be months, even longer, they said…’Nobody knows.'”
Some Haitians also believe that “the trauma will be felt by many in later months, possibly creating violence. For women, the threat of violence is already a reality: reports of rape at displacement sites are becoming increasingly common,” ACT said.
But ACT workers are still hopeful about Haiti’s future. It quoted Prospery Raymond, ACT/Christian Aid manager as saying that “the resilience of Haitians and the acts of solidarity and kindness between them have been striking” and they are “the foundation on which any international humanitarian support in Haiti – such as that being provided by the ACT Alliance – should be built.”