Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hurricane Isaac Update

An update from our friends at Child Hope, whose needs I shared about a few days ago.

Thanks to all of you who prayed and donated to help Isaac storm victims.

Living in Haiti, we are accustomed to crisis response but this storm truly hit us harder than expected.  The years of wear and tear already on most of our neighbors' tent homes became evident when the storm hit.  The severe winds and hard rain almost vaporized some homes.  They were already in bad shape, which made it easy for the storm to reek such quick devastation.

What really blessed us was the quick response to our call for assistance.  Immediately, funds came in online that allowed us to act swiftly -- purchasing tent repair materials, food, blankets and to pay for hospital care and prescriptions. 

One of the most wonderful aspects of the response is that it was from a lot of people, some giving $5 and $10 dollars, others giving more.  But it was the a true demonstration of the body of Christ at work.

We have been actively repairing and rebuilding tents since the day after the storm.  We are trying to rally together repair teams, mostly from the tent cities themselves.  We are averaging 10-15 repairs/rebuilds per day and have roughly 500 tents requiring work.  The work ahead is tremendous.

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you for your generosity, prayers and support.

I am so happy to hear that the church is responding.

Two of the people in our circle are in need as well: Our guard Ceyab lost the tent he and his five children were living in. He has another place he could go, but doesn't want to. We are trying to think about how to help him. 

Also, our cleaning lady Madame M lost the roof of her house, which was a tarp. She and her husband (who works at Quisqueya) have five children of their own. They have been rebuilding their house since the earthquake, and it is finished, except the roof- that's why they were using a tarp for the roof. Her husband is going to find out from a contractor how much it would cost to finish the roof. We're going to figure out how to do that, too. 

When it comes to donating to charities, Ben and I have certain standards. For instance, we love organizations that work through locals, or those that offer cycle-breaking solutions like a job or education instead of just perpetual handouts. 

However, we've struggled to come up with "policies" to go by when it comes to a giving directly to a person. It's hard to know. So far the only principle we've come up with is to "be generous, and also wise". 

For instance, if you've had a year to save up for your rent (which is due annually), and haven't savedh anything, you've probably been unwise in your spending choices and I'm unlikely to pay your rent (barring unusual circumstances). But recently we were asked for help with rent from a poor man we know who has saved 50% of the amount, AND his wife had two hospitalizations this year (we know this for sure). That's a bit different. 

Another example: last year our former guard had a foot infection caused by not wearing socks in his boots. We thought, "let's buy him socks." A Haitian friend of ours who also knew this man said, "No- he definitely has enough money for socks. He did not spend wisely."

I'm not God. I never know exactly what to do. I don't know for who is lying, who is irresponsible, who is genuinely in need of mercy and Christ-like generosity. We just try to help, and also not make problems worse. I feel like I'm putting myself in the superior position of a parent sometimes, metaphorically wagging my finger at grown adults: "You need to make better choices!"

It's hard to figure out. So we pray. The Holy Spirit is a person, not a formula.


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