Laine Marie Atilda, nearly blind for most of her life, talks about her needs in post-earthquake Port-au-Prince, Haiti. ACT Alliance member Church World Service, through its local partner Service Chretien d’Haiti, is providing both psychosocial and vocational support to hundreds of disabled people – both those who became disabled because of the earthquake, and those who had a disability before.
A total of almost $2 million has been donated by Canadian Anglicans, through The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF), for earthquake-ravaged Haiti.
According to PWRDF, $1,990,141 is eligible for matching funds from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). In addition, PWRDF received more than $36,000 after the Feb. 12 deadline for matching CIDA funding.
Parish treasurers, envelope secretaries and diocesan staff have given “tremendous support” to help Anglicans effectively channel their donations to PWRDF, confirmed Jill Martin, finance and administration team leader. “It would not have been possible from an administrative level without this kind of help,” said Martin. “In every situation these (people) are always the unsung heroes.”
So far, PWRDF has released $450,000 to Action by Churches Together (ACT), a global alliance of church-based groups that provides humanitarian assistance in disasters worldwide. Since the earthquake hit on Jan. 12, the ACT Alliance has provided more than 150,000 people with water, food, shelter, sanitation and medical assistance. An appeal target of $31.5 million will go towards long-term relief and rehabilitation efforts.
PWRDF has also given an initial $200,000 to the Episcopal diocese of Haiti has provided emergency relief to about 23,000 Haitians rendered homeless. “We’re trying to get back on our feet… But with the symbols of power gone, churches are assuming a lot of the organizing and coordinating of relief efforts,” said Canon Oge Beauvoir, co-ordinator of the crisis committee set up by the bishop of the Episcopal diocese of Haiti.
The diocese has had to extend relief efforts to other parts of the country since about 500,000 Haitians left Port-au-Prince and moved elsewhere. Canon Beauvoir said the diocese is receiving urgent calls from clergy who have no resources to deal with the influx of refugees. “They need food, medicine, water, shelter and school space,” he added.
There is also increasing concern about what will happen to hundreds of thousands of Haitians living in tents when the rainy season begins in April.
Canon Beauvoir, who is also principal of the Episcopal diocese of Haiti Seminary, said that while the diocese cannot accommodate international volunteers just yet, there will be a need for psychosocial programs.
Help will also be needed for many who have lost limbs since the earthquake. Tens of thousands are believed to have undergone amputations since the earthquake, resulting from either initial injuries or because of secondary infections and gangrene.
In a related development, a Mississauga-based Anglican, Julie Hard, will be working as a physiotherapist in Haiti for cbm Canada (Christian Blind Mission), an international Christian humanitarian organization. “People can rebuild their lives through rehabilitation,” said Hard, who provided rehabilitation support in a rural community in Western Kenya from 2003 to 2008.
“I am called to serve,” said Hard, who has taken a six-month leave of absence from her job at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.