Hurricane Matthew has devastated much of Haiti with over 800 deaths being reported as of October 7th. The destruction has extended to areas served by our Haitian mission partner, Beyond Borders. David Diggs, director of Beyond Borders, sent an email describing the extreme challenges being faced in Haiti and what Beyond Borders is doing to assist in the recovery efforts – the transcript is below. Contributions can be made via UCC donation (be sure to designate Beyond Borders Hurricane relief) or directly to the Hurricane Matthew site via the clickable link in David’s email.
Email from David Diggs, director of Beyond Borders:
From: “David Diggs” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: “The littlest had the least, and they lost it all.”
Date: October 5, 2016 at 6:21:00 PM MDT
The big news from Haiti is bad, but the little news is totally heartbreaking.
By big news, I mean what we can all see online or on TV about the hurricane. Bridges out. Roads gone. Mudslides. Flooding.
The biggest hurricane to hit Haiti in 50 years is bound to make some big, bad news, but it’s the little news that’s really disturbing me right now.
By little news I mean the news I’m hearing from colleagues about so many of the dear people we work with in communities we’re partnered with.
This news is little because it gets lost in the broader scale of a huge humanitarian crisis. These communities are remote and poor.
And the news I’m hearing is especially little because the people we’re closest to are the most marginalized in these marginalized communities.
We work with them because they are the ones who often couldn’t put their kids in school or feed them, and because they were often the most tempted to send their children away to live with another family without understanding how risky that was.
Of course to them and us, it always felt like really big news to see their triumphs.
As their communities began to organize to ensure that their children were in school and they could find and free any children who’d become enslaved, the world for these families was being transformed.
Many were benefiting from agricultural training and could start their own gardens with the tools and seed they could borrow from newly established cooperatives.
Some of the poorest families were also getting help to repair their homes and getting training and goods or livestock they could use to start earning a simple living and even save some money.
These triumphs were always big news to them and us, even though there was no media attention to make it news anywhere else.
So, yesterday and today as I’m hearing the stories come in and learning how the least of these families lost the most, I’m heartbroken.
So many completely lost their homes and most of their possessions. Their gardens were destroyed. So many lost their livestock and any goods they used to make a living.
As my colleague Freda put it, “Their houses could barely keep the sun out. They didn’t stand a chance against the wind and the rain. The littlest had the least, and they lost it all.”
I was in church with Freda back in April, in a little chapel she helps lead out in one of the remote communities that we work with. The pastor quoted by heart something Jesus said to his people: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s notice.”
Those words spoke to the people in his congregation in a way they’ll never speak to me, with my privilege and security.
But our deep commitment at Beyond Borders as an organization is to be most attentive to the smallest and least.
So, I’m writing you now to ask you to notice and be moved by the little news we’re hearing.
Beyond Borders is not a big organization. We won’t be rebuilding bridges or bringing in containers of relief to distribute to masses of people. There’s certainly a place for that kind of help in a crisis like this.
What we can do, though, is stay close and accompany these communities as they care for those among them who’ve lost the most.
As I write you, my colleagues and our partners are out going house to house, community by community to survey the losses.
Based on what they find, we may in the coming days decide to do other things in response to this hurricane.
But right now we have decided that we want to accompany the 100 families hit the hardest, that have the least ability to recover or rebuild on their own, especially vulnerable families with young children.
Using a model that was developed in Bangladesh and that has been proven effective in Haiti and around the world, we will commit to standing by these 100 families for 18 months.
We’ll do this by making sure that:
their houses are rebuilt,
they have safe water and sanitation,
they get livestock or other goods and the training they need to be able to begin generating an income and start saving,
their children are in school, and,
they have access to healthcare.
And for six months we will give them a small weekly stipend just to make sure they aren’t tempted to sell their assets before they’ve started making their own money.
And during this time we will visit them every single week to help encourage them and resolve any problems.
The promise is that in Haiti, nearly 90% of families that get this kind of careful support are able to then carry on generating income and caring for their families without needing to depend on aid or charity.
The cost per family per month is $100. For $1,800 then, an entire family’s direction is transformed in 18 months, from being destitute and dependent to having dignity and independence.
Would you be willing to help us with just one family?
A single gift of $1,800 or a pledge of $100 per month will allow us to partner you with a family.
Please respond now so we can move forward quickly.
You can click here to make a gift now.
We have construction material to buy along with livestock.
We already have staff trained and ready to support this effort.
We just need you.
With deep gratitude,
Director, Beyond Borders
PS – Your commitment of $100 a month (or whatever amount you can afford) to accompany a Haitian family will be the difference between destitution and dignity.