Friday, December 11, 2009

Help for Anse Rouge

As far as I can tell Haiti doesn't really have a spring, summer, winter or fall. Sure temperatures are warmer in the summer, and cooler in the winter, but year round temperatures are usually over 30 degrees Celsius, so that feels like summer to me. You never have to put on a sweater, socks, or even a coat for that matter. Flowers and plants grow year round, trees seem to lose their leaves year round and besides the different position of the sun in the sky you don't notice any significant changes. One thing Haiti does have though is dry seasons and rainy seasons. Dry season is exactly what it sounds like; days, weeks, and even months with no rain. Rainy season, however is not what I had expected. During rainy season it still is sunny everyday. The rain sometimes falls late afternoon but more often then not, after dark. Sometimes the rain pours down for less than 10 minutes, and sometimes it lasts for several hours. What's better rainy or dry? To much of either is bad, especially for a third world country like Haiti. When it rains, it pours and it doesn't take long for streets to flood!

Not only do gravel streets get washed out, but rivers rise, which make them difficult to cross by road because there are few bridges. Even worse, people living in small shacks in ravines get flooded out. Where does water want to go? Down of course. Where do people who have very little or no money live? Where no one else wants to live. In ravines, and ditches where they make their homes out of whatever material they can find. When it rains hard it doesn't take long for their homes to be damaged or destroyed.

When is it rainy season and when is it dry season? That's one thing I haven't been able to figure out. Different people have said different things. The only thing I know is that after weeks and weeks of no rain it will suddenly start raining every night. What happens if it doesn't rain for weeks on end? In a warm country like Haiti things start to dry up, shrivel and die. It means that water has to be rationed, since many people rely on rain water collected on their roofs to supply their homes with water.
Months without rain can make people lose all their crops. It means that the food they could hardly buy before becomes even more expensive. It means that their small gardens of food they planned to sell or use to feed their family is gone. It means they can't feed their children, it means desperation sets in and crime goes up.

Not all parts of Haiti are affected the same way. Denise said when she was in Jeremie (western tip of Haiti) for a couple days to bring her mother home, it rained every night. Other towns and villages are situated along larger rivers, which they can use to keep there crops irrigated.

Anse Rouge, a town in Northern Haiti; however, is really suffering. They never get a lot of rain in the first place but this prolonged period with no rain makes the town look like this. Just several days ago, Jason flew in to bring water and other supplies and these are the pictures he took.

From above it looks like a desert. You can see the runway on the top half of the photograph. Closer up you can see how barren everything looks.

Once the airplane is on the ground, you can see the effects of the drought even more. The dust is incredible in a town begging for water.

One of the missionaries living there shared this:
"Last year around this time, we were recovering from multiple hurricanes and tropical storms. Today, drought is causing even greater widespread suffering. Despite the destruction the hurricanes caused, they at least brought water, and people were able to plant and reap a harvest. With only one or two good rains since the spring, people are now facing almost certain famine. Even livestock are dying from the lack of water and food.

Manis spoke to some people in the community. As he recounted their stories to me, my heart broke. People are literally starving. One man, a trained mason and brick-layer, begged for any kind of work. “Even if you only pay me $100 (the equivalent of $12 US dollars) it’s fine,” he said, “Just something so I can buy some food for my children.”

Another lady left church so hungry she could hardly see straight. She was too embarrassed to come ask for food so she bought five cookies from a lady up the road – one for each person in her family. That night they were so hungry she sent one of her children to buy a little flour on credit so she could give them a little fried dough before they went to bed.

One of our school children was so hungry that when he received his plate of food he scooped it up with both hands and began shoving it into his mouth.

A pregnant woman, having no money, took her children with her to go buy some food on credit. The merchant, however, refused to sell to her since she already owed her and could not pay. As she turned to leave, her children burst into tears. They knew there would be nothing to eat that day.

There was a man watching the situation of the pregnant woman and her children that I described above. As he thought about what Manis had read in church, he realized that he could not let them go away hungry. Calling them back, he paid for some food for them. I believe that is what the love of Christ looks like when it is lived out through us. That man is not wealthy. He himself sometimes struggles to feed his children.He was willing to share part of his small salary in order to share the love of Christ." (written by Judy Dilus)

In two weeks time we hope to fly to Anse Rouge to distribute sacks of rice, beans, sugar, flour and cornmeal to the people there. If you would like to donate any money which would go directly to buying food for the people there please email us.

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