Hurricanes are part of life in the Caribbean but as we watch Irma move destructively through the region we might feel powerless. However, we can be inspired to hope by the stories of recovery and restoration experienced by victims of last year’s Hurricane Matthew.
As the wind tore through the Duchity area in Haiti and the rain lashed down, Aurelia Dorvil and the eight members of her household wondered if anything would be left by the morning. They lost everything.
She, like so many others, lost her home and her entire crop in those devastating few hours on 4 October 2016, when Hurricane Matthew struck. With wind speeds of up to 220km per hour, it left 1.4 million people in need of humanitarian aid and forced 140,000 from their homes.
Tearfund got to work straight away with our partners in Haiti, providing emergency supplies of food, hygiene kits, water purification kits and seeds, as well as emergency cash grants. But then it was time to think about the longer term.
Restoring food security
Churches became key partners in identifying people like Aurelia with real need. In Haiti, women represent the majority of people living in acute poverty. Almost half of the households in Duchity are headed by women and two-thirds of households depend entirely on agriculture for their survival.
Tearfund’s partner World Relief sought to supply the household nutritional needs of 1,500 families by providing seed and materials for kitchen gardens. Following demonstrations, households were given guidance in planting their own garden.
Stocked with a variety of plants to give staggered harvests, the gardens are designed to ensure a continual supply of nutritious food. Crop diversity serves to increase the resilience of the family's food supply in general.
Through this project, Aurelia and her family were able to plant a kitchen garden as well as a quarter of a hectare each of maize and beans. As she stands among the thriving maize, Aurelia has a smile on her face again. ‘I am hopeful of a good harvest,’ she says.
A growing church
As local churches have engaged with their communities in the wake of Hurricane Matthew they have also seen growth. Some pastors in Duchity report that church attendance has doubled.
In addition, the church network in this area has established a strong relationship with the mayor's office. This has led to an invitation to assist in distributions and other relief activities that are under local responsibility.
Churches have joined together to plan and execute small-scale house repairs and initiate the building of new schoolrooms.
As our partner explains, ‘By working with and through the local church [we have] seen these churches empowered, and taking on local ownership to own community projects and to see it truly as the role of the local church to serve the most vulnerable around them.’
- Praise God for the way his people have been able to bring hope to families in Duchity in a time of desperate need. And praise God that there are people in the north of Haiti now to bring comfort and hope in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
- Please continue to pray for communities like Duchity as they seek to rebuild their lives. Pray for good harvests that will not only feed their families but give them back their livelihoods.
- Pray for our partners and the local churches. Pray for strong relationships with each other and with the local authorities.