We arrived in
Estimates vary, but of a population of around 8 million, well over 200,000 people were killed by the earthquake and over 300,000 seriously injured. 600,000 fled Port au Prince to more rural areas in land, leaving behind over a million people living in over 460 tented camps. 720,000 children were affected by the earthquake.
There were also stories of lucky escapes. A church worker whose house was destroyed and is currently living at the District manse were we are staying only missed being crushed in a supermarket because she stopped to take a mobile phone call before going in. However two of her friends were not so fortunate and were killed inside. District President, Revd Gesner Paul, told us how he had left his office earlier than expected but remembers vividly watching cars being tossed around in the street and roads rising and falling during the 30 seconds that changed everything for so many.
There is so much that needs to be done in
The Church is also keen to develop its health care work, which it recognised had limited resources to respond effectively on 12th January. In addition communities are asking for help to rebuild their churches, often before their own homes are rebuilt, again because a restored church gives hope and a visible sign of progress.
As we arrived we joined a development planning meeting involving local church representatives and workers from the US NGO, United Methodist Committee on Relief, as they prepared for a workshop which will help to co-ordinate the development response.
They have been working with the UN in many of the camps and are building temporary solid bases for more robust tents, as well as transitional shelters. Longer term they want to start to build over 1000 new homes. They will also support training of Haitians to follow better building practices that will ensure more robust structures that could cope not only with another earthquake, but the far more likely hurricane that everyone currently fears. In addition they support health care, work with women’s co-operatives and youth work as part of longer term development.