Fred spoke with Gwenn Mangine of Joy in Hope once again this morning. You can hear the interview by clicking here.
When the ground first shook on January 12, 2010, the actual event was over in a matter of a minute. The effects of this tragedy, however, are lingering and will continue to linger for years and decades to come. The Joy in Hope staff on the ground has been honored to serve the community in various (and unusual) capacities as first responders, but we also acknowledge that as major relief organizations/government organizations have and continue to be mobilized in Jacmel, our role will again morph. After much discussion amongst our team, we’ve come to agree that our main role in the restoration of Jacmel will likely be in a supporting role to these larger, better-resourced, more highly-focused organizations. Because of the long term relationships/connections we have in Jacmel, we find ourselves in a place where we’re uniquely positioned to offer logistical support such as housing, transport, supplies, connections, and access to a steady stream of available workers.
This has already come to pass in many regards with the opening of our team housing as a guest house and with our involvement in the WFP distirbution, aiding specific NGO’s and the Canadian military. Joy in Hope is becoming increasingly known and trusted in our community.
To be a little more specific, here’s some info about what we did yesterday which I think is a good example of a typical day here:
- Yesterday were given the opportunity to be in charge of distribution of food for ALL of Cay Jacmel and surround areas (12,500 people.) We had to make a quick choice, and because of the systems we have in place already, were able to say yes. Nick was able to rent a Dihatsu and take 4 truckloads of food into our warehouse. Just for the record that’s 12 TONS of food—or 30,000 meals. Just GIVEN to us to distribute. We had to supply the truck and manpower (which is actually a bit more complicated than it sounds) but they got it done. And funny story—the Dihatsu we rented for $200 was pretty sketchy. It didn’t have lights so we had to return it by 6PM. The driver broke our gate when he hit it and the truck actually broke down and had to be push-started.
- Yesterday we also began hosting a team of 8 doctors who are literally saving lives. I brought a tiny, very sick baby to them yesterday… a baby I believe was on the brink of death, and they were able to help. Nick and Mikey were able to get 8 beds brought over to Rue Petion to continue expanding the capacity of the guest house.
- Also yesterday, Nick delivered $500 worth of phone cards to the Canadian military who have provided hundreds of soldiers who are working all day long to restore Jacmel. They are doing largescale rubble removal with heavy machinery and small scale with teams of soldiers. (And just FYI–they paid the bill on that one, but we were able to acquire the phone cards when they were not.)
- Yesterday we distributed donated diapers in the local refugee camp. Not a ton of them, but given the current situation with heavy rains and mud combined with a widespread outbreak of diarrhea, I have to believe it helped at least a little.
- Yesterday we also brought 300 meals to the hospital that our staff and children prepared. 300 patients and their caregivers were able to eat a hot meal.
- On top of all that, we have 2 orphanages that are running well.
I am sure today will be an equally exciting and opportunity-filled day. And it’s so awesome to be involved in something so much bigger than ourselves. It’s amazing to see the way God has given us favor as we’ve tried to make ourselves available to serve our community. And I do believe we can continue to serve our community in a similar fashion for weeks and months to come. It’s a good fit for the way we’re each personally wired and a good fit for our organization too
It’s exciting to live here in this time. We’re thankful God has chosen us. Please pray that he would give us the strength daily to walk in it.
Today Nick and I drove over the mountains to Leogane. It’s been the first time we’ve been over the mountains since the quake. We’d heard Leogane was bad. Wow. Didn’t quite expect HOW bad it was. You see, I have heard in Jacmel that around 50% of homes were destroyed. But that’s kind of a deceiving statistic as much of the major damage was in a few pockets. In these pockets, nearly EVERY house is destroyed but outside of those pockets, it’s not nearly as bad. Estimates for Leogane say that there is somewhere between 80-90% of homes are destroyed. Seeing what I saw today I would say that is VERY possible. The WHOLE city is in shambles. It’s not just in pockets. Downtown, uptown, in town, outskirts of town. It’s a MESS. All of it.
Even so, the people of Leogane continue to march on. There is a lot of aid we could see on the ground and things seemed to be running very smoothly. The streets were all cleared and swept. There were even women spreading water over the roads nearly continuously to keep the dust down. The main refugee camp was well organized. There were no tents—it was all makeshift, semi-permanent structures organized into sections. It’s still not great. I mean come on, it’s a refugee camp. People have lost everything. They still have many needs that are not being met. But they continue with their lives with a tenacity I just can’t explain.
We’d love continued prayers for the situation in Haiti. It’s out of the front pages now, but the need will continue for months and years, possibly decades, to come. Pray for continued provision. Pray for our families as we adjust to our new normal. But most of all, please pray that we would daily turn our hearts towards God—the giver of all good things.
Yesterday Leann and I headed over to the large refugee camp that’s now a part of our community. As difficult as it was to see, it was a good visit. We talked and played with a lot of different kids. It was kind of surreal. In so many ways it was business as usual. The kids were still just kids. They were laughing and joking and playing. Some were making kites, some were using sticks to build model houses, some were playing clapping hand games. Almost all of them wanted their pictures taken.
But when I took a step back—it made my heart grieve all the more because I knew th reality of the situation. Amongst the happy children there were deperate parents. Two specific parents who were hopeless enough to offer me two of their children then and there because they just weren’t sure how they were going to move on.
There was this other mother there. She was the mother of a very small six month old baby. Her baby was sick. Very sick. The baby had her face winced in pain the whole time I was there, but she could not cry louder than just a tiny, tiny whimper. She was obviously dehydrated. I asked the mother what kind of symptoms she’d been having and she said the baby has been throwing up and having diarrhea for several days. I asked if she’d taken the baby to the medical tent located in the center of the camp. She said that she hadn’t because there were always so many people there. She didn’t want to wait in line. I begged her to take the baby the next day. I told her if she didn’t want to wait in line she should get there very early. She said she could go, “demen si dye vle” (tomorrow if God wills). I plan to check on her tomorrow. I can’t stop thinking about her.
There ware an estimated 6,000 homeless people living in this camp. SIX THOUSAND! In a city of about 35,000 that’s a staggering amount. Where do you go from here?
God save Haiti. You’re the only one who can.
Day to day the needs seem to change on the ground here in Jacmel. We’ve spent the last few days working tirelessly getting food out into the hands of the people. We don’t spend a whole lot of time reading the news, (mostly because we don’t have the time to do so,) but today I saw a story on CNN.com about thousands of people crowding two trucks of rice that was being distributed. It was a first come first served situation and it was chaos. The UN ended up having to spray the crowd with pepper spray to control them. One Haitian man being interviewed said something like, “we’ve lost everything—our homes, our families… and now our dignity.”
The truth is, that’s not the kinds of things we’re seeing here in Jacmel. We’re seeing hungry people. We’re seeing desperate people. We’ve even seen a few demonstrations that you might call a riot. But that is the exception. In so many ways, people are moving on. The tenacity if the Haitian people is awe-inspiring. We’re desperately searching out normalcy for our family as well. We took all the kids to the beach yesterday as that was a pretty regular thing in our house pre-earthquake. It was good. But it was still weird.
As a ministry we’ve been focusing on distrubuting large quantities of food to the people of Jacmel through their pastors. Yesterday we moved over 15 tons in/out of our warehouse. ALL BY HAND. We’re tired. Today is a bit different, because we’re out of food. Not sure what this is going to mean quite yet. The good news is that there IS food to be had in Jacmel right now and the larger governmental organizations are starting larger scale distribution. It would seem God is leading us to refocus once again and figure out how to best serve families in our community. Lots of ideas swirling around, but nothing definite yet. Today we’re going to try to breathe a little bit and invite God’s rest to inhabit us and strengthen us.
We are still all sleeping in tents outside. Our house doesn’t appear to have any major damage, but we’re still nervous. We continue to have strong aftershocks and have been hearing that we may continue to feel them for months to come. They are unnerving. We have a team of structural engineers coming in tomorrow to check on all our buildings. I think once that’s happened we might be able to start the process of moving back indoors. Well, maybe.
We’re so thankful for the prayers on behalf of our family and our ministry, Joy in Hope. I am thankful that God positioned us where we are at this time to be able to walk through this, but it is stretching us beyond what we thought we could bear.
As you continue to pray, please lift up our families. Our orphanages are not traditional orphanages. They are families. Large families. And all of our family members are experiencing grief, loss, anxiety, fear and dozens of other emotions… We need prayers for the ability to walk our children through the chaos that has become their lives.
To learn more about Joy in Hope please visit http://www.joyinhope.org/earthquake/index.html
Fred interviewed long-time Creation Festival volunteer Gwenn Goodale Mangine of Joy in Hope Ministries. Gwenn and her husband Nick are serving in Jacmel, Haiti. Jacmel is a city of 40,000 people with reports of 3 to 4000 killed from the earthquake. Gwenn shares her memories of the earthquake and how God has worked since then. You can hear the full interview by clicking HERE.
By now you have probably heard about the recent earthquake in Haiti. Some of WJTL’s friends have given us updates.
The Creation Festival and Pastor Harry Thomas have been part of New Missions and Hope Alive Clinic in Haiti for many years. Pastor Harry says, “I have heard from New Missions. Several buildings have been damaged and one school collapsed. Evidently one teacher died and there are more injuries. I don’t have a report on our clinics at the moment (Hope Alive Clinics) except that they think they are OK and they will be sending medical supplies into the areas hit the hardest.”
WJTL’s Chris Strayer’s brother and sister-in-law are currently serving in Haiti with Joy In Hope – the parent organization for Haitian Children’s Home. Here’s what they have shared about the recent tragedy:
“I am sure everyone has heard the news by now that Haiti had a major earthquake yesterday afternoon. It was, without question, the scariest thing I have ever experienced. Everyone in our family/staff is fine…There’s a lot of damage in the area. Large buildings have crumbled into piles of rubble. People are scared. It’s an eery [sic] feeling. We continue to have aftershocks– some of them strong. We all slept outside last night, with all our staff and their families, and the boys from the boys home. We will know more soon now that the sun is up…Please keep us in your prayers.”