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Long-Term Relief in Haiti

Updates     |    July 3, 2017 by Tzu Chi USA

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Our love in Haiti goes back to 2010, when relief volunteers swiftly responded to a devastating earthquake that destroyed approximately 280,000 buildings, and caused tremendous heartache. We sprung to action when Hurricane Matthew battered the southern coast of Haiti in 2016, and have been extending our hands in aid ever since. As part of our long-term mission in Haiti, we have sought to provide effective and compassionate care to these individuals who are still bridging the varied obstacles on their path to recovery, and commenced distributions once more during the month of June.

 June 11, 2017

Our volunteers arrived in Haiti today, reuniting with the residents of Port-Au-Prince to begin preparations for distributions in the coming days. Enthusiastic and grateful for the opportunity to help their communities, a total of 57 local volunteers donned our signature yellow vests, and readied themselves for the upcoming distribution of 30,000 bags of rice for those in need. Some local volunteers even created their own homemade bamboo banks out of real bamboo!

Volunteers from near and far lifted the spirits of all who were gathered with a sign language performance of “One Family.”

 June 12, 2017

Our distributions commenced today in Cité Soleil, a commune located in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area of Haiti. Our rice distribution provided 2,000 bags of rice to those who are struggling, and additionally 1,000 pairs of Vans shoes to 1,000 families! Recipients were elated to receive the food and new shoes, easing the heavy burden that has followed them for too long. There are many children in Haiti who do not own shoes of their own, and go to school barefoot each day. We are grateful to be able to continue this relief mission in Haiti and we thank all of our local volunteers for their efforts.

 June 13, 2017

Taiwan’s Ambassador, Cheng Hao Hu, joined us at our rice distribution at Port La Salle in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where we gave 2,616 bags of rice and 1,308 pairs of shoes to 1,308 families. During the distribution, Ambassador Cheng Hao Hu mentioned that he first connected with Tzu Chi in 2016 during our France flood relief mission, and has remained a staunch supporter of our foundation since. He shared his heartfelt gratitude with all for the opportunity to serve the people of Haiti with us, and truly felt how love is without boundaries.

 June 14, 2017

Our daily rice distributions have now brought us to Cap Haitien, Haiti, where we met Madame Heriveaux, who has devoted much of her life to helping others. Concerned about the children wandering the streets without food, she hopes the bags of rice will bring them back home to safety. Our volunteers felt her worry keenly, and wished to sooth this uncertainty,  providing 70 bags of rice to supply her orphanage.

 June 15, 2017

Love was potent in the air during our rice distributions in Cap Haitien, Haiti, as our partner, Father Valon, bestowed his blessings on care recipients. Many elderly members of this community are unable to visit the local church for services, and it would have been very difficult for them to travel to receive these blessings and our rice distributions. Therefore, we teamed up, and came to them!

Suzie Jean Pierre is one of the individuals we visited together. She led a busy life operating her own small business, taking care of her children, and participating each Sunday at her local church. After a heart attack, however, she could no longer partake in many of the tasks she was accustomed to, and lost the ability to speak. Yesterday was the first time in three months that she was reunited with Father Valon, shedding tears of joy and appreciation for the compassion she felt.

Our long-term mission also brought us to Notre-Dame du Perpétuel Secours, an orphanage just outside of Cap-Haitien. Without a car, those at the orphanage were unable to transport the rice. Father Valon and our volunteers took this chance to deliver the bags and visit the children.

 June 19, 2017

Our volunteers arrived in Chantal today, a town in Les Cayes, for a distribution of 500 bags of rice. It was at this distribution that we met an elderly woman named Sonyse, who told us about her passion to write, and how taking up her pen has given her strength throughout life.

“When I am hungry, I write, and then I do not feel so hungry.”

- Sonyse, care recipient

This was the first time in many years, she said, that she had participated in a distribution, and gladly accepted the opportunity to help others by filling out their vouchers.

 June 20, 2017

Relief volunteers traveled to Île-à-Vache today by boat, where residents of the island received 500 bags of rice. Our rice distributions in Île-à-Vache led us to a remarkable woman named Erita Jean Bois, who is 100 years old. She expressed profound gratitude for the aid, and spoke about her experiences being born under the United States occupation of Haiti in 1917. She now devotes her time to caring for her four grandchildren. “There are many more people who will enjoy this rice,” she explained later, and urged that we come back, even if there’s only one person in line to receive it.

Distributions continued afterward in the commune of Arniquet in Port-Salut, where we handed out another 100 bags of rice.

“My sister received rice from your volunteers two months ago in Charpentier, Haiti, and she invited me over to share it. It was so good,” Gerson expressed ardently. Our volunteers are incredibly grateful for each life we touch, and it is our sincerest hope that we may continue to make a difference for people like Gerson, his sister, and all people who are struggling.

“I’m gonna eat this rice like it was my last meal. Thank you, thank you.”

- Gerson Fenelus

 June 21, 2017

Saint-Jean-du-Sud, another commune in the Port-Salut Arrondissement of Haiti, was the next place to visit on our journey. Volunteers took time before the distribution to organize 200 pairs of shoes for the distribution, specifically with the children of the community in mind. The young students of Saint-Jean-du-Sud were ecstatic to receive brand new sneakers.

“I had one pair of shoes. The sole and heel were replaced several times. Each time, I sewed them by hand. These shoes fit me well, and I like this color. It's my favorite.”

- Jean Louis Thomas, 6th grade

During the relief event, we also had the pleasure of meeting 12 year old Marceline, who shares her shoes with her sibling. They take turns wearing them to school. In the mornings, Marceline’s younger brother wears them to his classes, and she wears them in the evenings. Each having a pair of their own now, they shouted ecstatically “I don't think we will need to share anymore!”

 June 22, 2017

Fond-des-Blancs marked one of our final distribution locations along the southern coast of Haiti for the month of June, where relief volunteers distributed 500 bags of rice. This communal section is the home of many Polish Haitians, who partially descend from those who served during the time of the Napoleonic Wars. An additional 900 bags of rice throughout the town of Aquin.

While in Aquin, we met Faustin, who proudly displayed his voucher:

“I took my time to write on it carefully, and also added the photo. We do not have that sort of thing very often here, so this is a great opportunity for me. I have to appreciate it.”

- Faustin Odiveus

It was a meaningful effort, and one that deeply touched our volunteers.

Relief volunteers also spoke with Denise, a care recipient who traveled three hours to get to the distribution. To see the earnest reactions of those who receive our rice always warms our hearts, and inspires us to go further in every task we undertake.

“It has been a long time since I’ve eaten a good dish of rice. Thank you.”

- Denise

Each and every one of our volunteers carries a profound love for those we aid, and it is our heartfelt ambition to relieve suffering across the globe. Through our long term relief mission in Haiti, we hope to guide residents out from the shroud of uncertainty and hunger, and make a positive difference for all.