Haiti — Rebuild Haiti,
the joint Southern Baptist disaster relief initiative launched in the aftermath
of the massive Jan. 12, 2010,
earthquake, will have built 1,982 houses by the end of November and has 560
more in the pipeline before the scheduled exit date in March 2012.
“Southern Baptists should heartily celebrate what has been
accomplished in Haiti,”
said Jeff Palmer, executive director of Baptist Global Response (BGR),
one of the key partners in the Rebuild Haiti alliance.
“It is amazing what has happened in such a short period of
time, but there are still thousands of people living in tents and much to be
is a cooperative venture that also involves Haitian Baptists, the International
Mission Board, the Florida Baptist Convention and Southern Baptist Disaster
Relief. In the past 18 months, Southern Baptists have invested more than $4.5
million in assisting survivors of the earthquake. Besides building houses, the
disaster response effort has included feeding programs, medical clinics, school
assistance, beds for 2,200 orphans, and prosthetics fabrication as well as many
Baptist volunteers from Ecuador,
Dominica and Grenada
have worked alongside U.S.
and Haitian volunteers.
The goal of the home construction campaign has not been just
to build houses, but rather to build Haitians and their communities, said David
Brown, who with his wife, Jo, directs Baptist Global Response work in the
“About 50 Haitians have been trained and employed as supervisors
on job sites. Each of these has been training two assistants,” Brown said.
“As a result of community transformation, small businesses
have been created to meet construction supply needs and transportation of those
supplies. Small diners and shops have sprung up to provide daily necessities.
“The impact of Rebuild Haiti will be felt for generations to
Home construction has been coordinated in about 30
communities, Brown said.
Southern Baptist volunteers who have endured the heat and
hardships of post-earthquake Haiti
can find satisfaction in knowing their efforts have made a difference for
thousands of Haitians, Palmer noted.
“We are, however, still entertaining volunteer teams who are
interested in helping in Haiti,
but we are asking them to diversify into other activities,” Palmer added.
“There are needs in the medical and healthcare areas, as
well as for water wells. We are working on some poultry/farming projects with
an orphanage to help them become self-sufficient.
“There’s an enormous amount of work yet to be done to help
people in these communities get their lives back on track and experience the
love of Christ for themselves.”
Bill Mathews, a volunteer
from River Oak
Church in Chesapeake,
Va., said he was deeply impressed by the
impact he saw Rebuild Haiti projects making in communities, as well as in
“I worked in Bon Repo, Damien and Marmont. Seeing three
different communities in different stages was something that really impacted
me,” Mathews said. “In Bon Repo, there were still lots of suspicions and taunts
from the locals. A group of kids climbed a tree near where I was working and
teased me while I worked. It was very clear that the program had not ‘soaked
in’ enough in Bon Repo, but there was a toe-hold established.
“In Damien, a ton of work has been done and the community
has been well-reached. There were lots of smiles and friendly faces there,”
Mathews added. “We all felt very safe the entire time we were there, and our
Haitian co-workers were very protective of us.
“The people in Marmont were friendly, hospitable and their
church community was very strong. In Marmont, there was a mature community with
a functioning church community that supported one another,” Mathews said.
North Carolina Baptist Men continues to support and
facilitate projects in Haiti
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Kelly is senior writer and an assistant
editor for Baptist Press.)