March 7, 2017 | Roche-à-Bateau, Haiti | Libna Stevens/IAD
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (Haiti) in Haiti recently distributed water purification units and food kits to displaced families still affected by Hurricane Matthew, which hit the island nation last October.
Hurricane Matthew moved into Haiti’s south peninsula on Oct. 3, and stayed for nearly 36 hours at winds of 136 miles an hour, causing mudslides, flooding and bridges and roads to collapse.
The distribution was the start of an ADRA response project that will assist some 1,730 families in the Roche-à-Bateau municipal district, as well as provide assistance to more than 3,000 families in the South and Grande-Anse departments in Haiti’s south peninsula in the coming weeks, said Fritz Bissereth, ADRA Haiti Director.
“Today, 200 of the most needy families received one Sawyer water purification unit, and three boxes of 108 packs of rice rich in nutrients and vitamins from ‘Stop Hunger Now’, a nongovernmental organization,” said Bissereth. Bissereth said there are families still in dire need of homes, food and hope, and ADRA is doing what it can to bring some relief.
More than 500 were already in line early in the day waiting for ADRA’s delivery on Feb. 22, 2017, at the St. Michel Archbinge Catholic Church property in Roche–à-Bateau. The two hundred that held small pink notes stood in a tight line under the coastal afternoon sun to hear instructions on how to use the water purification unit to prevent cholera at home and in their communities.
Antojean Claude, a 26-year-old farmer and father of a two-year-old son, waited for hours to get the goods. “My house was destroyed and I lost everything I owned,” said Claude. Claude was among many farmers who lost all their crops when Matthew swept and uprooted plantations in Roche-à-Bateau and the surrounding communities.
“We are waiting for the rain so that we can plant corn, beans, and cassava to sell and so that I can support my family,” explained Claude. In the meantime, he is grateful for the rice and the help ADRA is giving to his hometown.
Mayor of Roche-à-Bateau Luvana Beaubrun thanked ADRA and its volunteers for the commitment to providing assistance to her district. Beaubrun is among three mayors overseeing shelters with local officials to coordinate relief assistance with ADRA in the district. She too, like the 23,000 people who live Roche-à-Bateau, was affected by the hurricane.
“My house was completely destroyed and I had to stay at a shelter for sometime so I sympathize with all our homeless families here,” said Beaubrun. Beaubrun said she had never seen such a disaster come through the south peninsula.
The last severe storm to hit Haiti was in 1963, according to the National Meteorological Center.
“We are so thankful for the continued assistance ADRA will be providing for our people here in upcoming weeks and months,” she said.
ADRA Haiti will be making a dozen more similar deliveries in the coming months, said Enock Bertrand, ADRA Haiti coordinator in the south region office, which is headquartered 46 kilometers east of Roche–à-Bateau in Les Cayes.
Bertrand is glad to be part of transmitting some hope through the work ADRA is doing in the south peninsula. “We have been doing many activities here in Roche-a-Bateau because our interest is not only to provide assistance but give them the tools to rebuild their lives after a disaster like this strikes,” said Bertrand.
One such project in Roche-à-Bateau has included helping locals who were selected from the group of displaced persons to assist those in their communities, said Bertrand. It works by selecting a person in the community as a provider of toiletries and needed supplies, said Bertrand.
“Each victim [or head-of-household] of Hurricane Matthew receives a voucher and takes that voucher to their nearby provider in order to receive certain needed supplies for their family for free,” said Bertrand. That provider collects all vouchers as proof of their services and distribution of goods supplied by ADRA and receives compensation. “The project is helping the community to get to know each other better and bring about some rebuilding,” said Bertrand.
Altagrace Fleurgein is one such designated provider in Roche-à-Bateau. Fleurgein is a second-year nursing student who lost it all when Matthew destroyed her single mother’s house where Fleurgein was living with her six siblings. She lost all her inventory of her cosmetic business she was running to pay for her nursing school. Now, as a provider for ADRA in her town, she has been able to continue to pay for her nursing school and rebuild her business.
“I want to see this community back on its feet so that we can move forward and better ourselves,” said Fleurgein.
Bettering the lives of people is at the heart of ADRA’s mission with its long-term development programs and emergency response to affected communities, reaffirmed Bissereth.
ADRA Haiti has been able to continue its response thanks to partners that have provided funds to assist displaced families, said Bissereth.
There was an initial response project co-funded by ADRA Inter-America and ADRA International of US$100,000 which provided 400 food kits and hygiene kits, including a water purification unit in four communes, or communities assigned by the government in Arniquet, Maniche, Roche-à-Bateau, and Torbeck, according to Bissereth.
“The network response project also contributed to rebuild or repair 500 houses destroyed or damaged by Matthew in the four communes, recapitalized 12 local vendors to provide construction materials to the 500 targeted including shelter tool kits with tarps while they awaited for their achieved houses,” said Bissereth.
Bissereth also reported that the German Foreign Office funded the WASH project which teaches hygiene and distributes kits, including the Sawyer purification units, to families in Roche-à-Bateau.
ADRA Haiti is also overseeing the reconstruction of 12 permanent houses in the devastated districts of Léon and Jérémie, with funding from Secours Adventiste in Martinique.
There are still challenges to reach so many more who were affected by Hurricane Matthew, said Bissereth, but “ADRA continues to work hard to make a difference.”
To find out more about the work of ADRA Haiti, visit the Facebook page: adrahaiti
For more on ADRA and its development programs, visit adra.org