Worship at the Grand Goave Baptist church at Siloé, (Temple Baptist Church). Elderly member Cleoda, center, attends worship for the first time in months by using a wheel chair. Tori Wentz, one of CBF
ATLANTA – As Haiti marks the one year anniversary of a devastating earthquake that claimed an estimated 300,000 lives and displaced more than 1 million people, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel and relief workers are currently battling a cholera epidemic caused by a lack of clean, drinkable water.
Nancy and Steve James, both medical professionals who are co-appointed field personnel with CBF and International Ministries of American Baptist Churches USA, have spent most of the past year in Haiti and have helped in relief and recovery efforts as well as the battle against cholera. In December, the Fellowship gave an additional $5,000 in disaster relief funds to purchase supplies for the Ebenezer Community Health Center where the Jameses work to help with the cholera outbreak.
“The small Ebenezer Community Health Center, a clinic without beds, has turned into a real hospital caring for up to 100 patients at a time,” Nancy James wrote in a recent update, adding that more than 1,200 severely ill cholera patients had been admitted in only a month and a half. Thirty people died, “but we estimate that at least 40 percent of the total admitted people would have died if they had not received treatment.”
Nearby in Cap Haitien, Doctors Without Borders turned a gymnasium into a cholera treatment center, treating more than 400 people in just one month. “Cots are lined up in rows with people of all ages receiving IV therapy,” Nancy James said.
The Jameses said that cholera education efforts are beginning to make a difference in communities throughout the country. Through community meetings and even door-to-door, neighbor-to-neighbor efforts, people are learning how to implement new water security measures that prevent the spread of cholera.
In addition to the Jameses, CBF field personnel and registered nurses Tori Wentz and Jenny Jenkins have also spent significant time seeing patients and addressing both emergency treatment and ongoing care.
During the past year, 530 short-term workers from Fellowship and American Baptist churches in the United States, Canada and the Dominican Republic have served in Haiti. CBF contract workers Scott Hunter and Tim Brendle have coordinated on-site efforts, and Mike and Brenda Harwood now serve in that capacity in the small community of Grand Goave.
The Fellowship has received nearly $1.5 million with another $500,000 pledged to fund the relief and development effort that is both long-term and holistic. Those efforts include:
· The Haiti Housing Network – a collaboration among the Fellowship, Conscience International, the Fuller Center for Housing and the Baptist General Convention of Texas – is building homes in the Grand Goave area. So far, 15 houses have been completed utilizing a technique developed by Conscience International in which the rubble from the earthquake is used as building material. This innovative approach was recently featured on Discovery Channel-Canada and can be seen online. There have also been two houses completed for volunteer teams.
· In the area of soul care, a partnership with Mercer University has helped train more than 250 care providers including pastors with the Haitian Baptist Convention and officials with the Department of Education. Besides post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) training, the engagement team has also developed curriculum for training teachers on what to do in emergency situations, such as hurricanes or earthquakes. Since there was no training before, this curriculum will be presented to students and families across the country.
· Four Haitians have recently visited Ethiopia for three months of training in a micro enterprise self-help group initiative. Working initially with Haitian Baptist churches, the trainees will work to form self-help groups for pooling and using their combined resources to develop savings and business opportunities. Churches are currently being enlisted to participate.
· Three new water wells have been drilled and pumps installed in the Grand Goave area near a church and volunteer house. The Harwoods are continuing to identify well drilling companies that might provide these services to other parts of the country. They are also coordinating purchase and distribution of pumps and providing installation and maintenance training.
· Five classrooms are almost complete for a school in Grand Goave, and foundations have been dug for two more classrooms. Nearly 500 children are enrolled in the school, which is presently operating on a rotating schedule at various locations in the town. The school is composed mostly of street children in the Grand Goave area. Parents and the church contribute to operating expenses, and CBF matches the money raised.
· The Grand Goave church needs renovation. Engineers say portions of the building are damaged but not the entire structure. Once a plan has been finalized, funds and engagement teams will be needed to assist with the construction.
· Partnerships are being explored to develop a suitable orphanage that is holistic, sustainable and meets accountability standards in the area. Most current orphanages are privately-run operations, and appropriate standards are difficult to facilitate.
“Fellowship Baptists are making a difference in Haiti,” said Rob Nash, CBF Global Missions coordinator. “The steps seem small compared to the destruction, but one year after the quake, these efforts are building and lives are being transformed. God is at work through us in Haiti, and we look forward to seeing the results as time goes on.”
As the effort in Haiti moves into its second year, volunteers and financial gifts are still needed. To volunteer for a medical or construction team in Haiti, fill out the online application. Questions should be sent to email@example.com. To give to the relief effort, visit the Fellowship’s online giving web page, or send your check to Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, P.O. Box 101699, Atlanta, GA 30392, indicating fund No. 17015 “Haiti Response.”
“The churches of this Fellowship and individual Christians have been moved by what they witnessed in Haiti – I was moved by what I saw there,” said Daniel Vestal, CBF’s executive coordinator. “We are determined to be faithful to God’s calling. We will not forget the people of Haiti, and though much has been accomplished this year, there is so much more God is asking of us in the days ahead.”
CBF is a fellowship of Baptist Christians and churches who share a passion for the Great Commission and a commitment to Baptist principles of faith and practice. The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.
Worship at the Grand Goave Baptist church at Siloé, (Temple Baptist Church). Elderly member Cleoda, center, attends worship for the first time in months by using a wheel chair. Tori Wentz, one of CBF’s field personnel, right, has been treating patients in and around Grand Goave during the past year. CBF photo
Editor’s note: For a high resolution version of this image, go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/thefellowship/5370535488/.