As you have no doubt heard, Hurricane Matthew is hitting Florida this Friday morning. Getting less publicity is the tragedy of a few days ago, when Matthew ripped through the nation of Haiti. Its effects were devastating, and southwest Haiti, the area our church has especially been investing in, was hit the hardest.
The good news is that the orphans and staff we support are currently safe. In preparing for the storm, the children from the ESMI orphanages in the more rural surrounding areas (such as Cavaillon) were transferred to our Cambry headquarters near Les Cayes. Louis St. Germain worked day and night in advance to stockpile food and water and also rented a large generator. There is currently around a 5-day supply of food for the 450 orphans who are gathered there.
But it will be a long time before these orphans are able to return to their homes. Louis has described the effects of the storm to be a “total disaster.” Early reports from the various rural orphanages (including the one in Cavaillon) are that the roofs of many buildings are destroyed or severely damaged, which means that probably all possessions and clothing have been lost and that much work needs to be done before these buildings are safe to live in again. The Cambry site (which also has been hit hard) will be stressed by overpopulation for quite some time.
As we try to imagine what life is like right now for these children and adults, our hearts cry out in anger and sadness. For things to have moved so quickly from hopefulness to devastation…well, this is not how this world was meant to be. But we will not despair. Though we do not understand God’s design, we know that he sees the plight of the orphan, and he cares.
I invite you to pray with me for all who are experiencing the effects of this hurricane. God does hear our prayers, and he answers them. Consider also joining with our church in providing financial support. Initial estimates are that $200,000 will be needed to care for the children during this lengthy time of transition, and the cost of restoring the various orphanages will be considerably greater. The Give Hope Global website (an ESMI partner) provides you with a way of donating immediately (via Paypal), and we will also be devoting our monthly benevolence fund offering on October 23 to Haiti relief (the deacons have already sent $1500 of our benevolence fund to ESMI).
We rebuilt from the earthquake, and, by the grace of God, we can rebuild again.