Hope for Haiti, now and for the future

When the dust settled on the city of Port Au Prince, Haiti, after the massive 7.0 earthquake that devastated much of the impoverished country, there was overwhelming need and an immediate response of worldwide support.

The NFL teamed up with the Red Cross to ask for donations during playoff games viewed by millions, and George Clooney rallied his celebrity friends for a telethon called Hope For Haiti Now, which raised about $60 million for relief efforts.

But when the frenzied media coverage of the disaster in Haiti has subsided, the need will still be there, pressing as ever.

Local efforts
Two South Florida-based non-profit organizations have been organizing relief efforts for years, and they will be with the Haitian people in the months and years to come as the massive recovery process begins.

“We always ask people to remember that this (situation) is not going to go away,” said Kathy Skipper, marketing and public relations manager with Food For The Poor. “We ask that people not let this fade from their mind, because this is going to be a really desperate situation.”

Skipper is joined by Jim Cavnar, president of Cross International, in her call for both immediate aid and long-term thinking about relief efforts for Haiti.

“Recovery and rebuilding after this catastrophic earthquake will be (the) work of generations,” Cavnar said. “We must be ready to persevere in our assistance to the people of Haiti and support them as they rebuild.”

The greatest needs in Haiti at the moment, Skipper said, are simple: food, water, shelter and medical supplies.

“We’re just getting food in their hands. People are really close to starvation in some places.”

Financial contributions can have an immediate impact, Cavnar said.

“Cross International and most other organizations like us need cash above all. We are sending shipments of emergency goods and collecting more to ship by the day, but in the meantime, people in Haiti have to survive. The churches and ministries we work with can use cash to buy food, water, medicines and fuel while supplies last.”

Churches can get involved with relief efforts, Cavnar said, by collecting donations to pay the $8,000 cost of shipping a container to Haiti.

Skipper said the Food For The Poor staff in Haiti, totaling almost 400 people, is also working to provide shelter and tents to some of the nearly 2,000,000 Haitians who are now homeless.

Cavnar said that in addition to the physical needs of the victims and their families, Haiti has another great need: “a rebirth of hope.” He had received an e-mail from the Haitian director of the Togetherness in Christ Orphanage in Mountrouis, Haiti, that echoed this idea:

“May the lord bless you for all you’ve done and continue to do,” orphanage director Gladys Mecklembourg said at the close of her e-mail. “We trust in our heavenly father to raise up a new Haiti, ‘To bestow on us a crown of beauty, instead of ashes, the oil of gladness, instead of mourning, and a garment of praise, instead of a spirit of despair. We will be called Oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.'”

If you are interested in making a cash donation to Food For The Poor or Cross International, go to www.foodforthepoor.org or www.crossinternational.org and contribute online. If you would like to donate canned goods or medical supplies, check the list of items needed and bring them to a drop-off location.


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