Brian Duss of the nonprofit World Vision shares what life is like for people in Haiti following the storm and how you can help.
Posted in , Oct 18, 2016
Hurricane Matthew is long gone – it broke up over the Atlantic days ago – but the devastating effects of the once category four storm are still being felt.
Many people here in the states are coping with flooded homes and power outages as a result of the hurricane. And in Haiti, the consequences of the storm are even more severe. The storm destroyed houses, decimated crops, and left food shortages and contaminated water in its wake. There are more than 62,000 people living in shelters and over 1,000 already confirmed dead.
World Vision, a Christian nonprofit, is one of many organizations responding to the crisis in Haiti. Brian Duss, a member of the response team for World Vision, went to Haiti recently. World Vision was already stationed there when the storm hit, providing access to better medicine, educational tools and giving assistance to the earthquake relief effort. The organization’s job now is to help people recover from this most recent natural disaster. Duss shares how his team is doing that, and how we can help.
GUIDEPOSTS: What were your first thoughts after seeing the damage in Haiti?
BRIAN DUSS: Haiti was already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere before the hurricane- with half of the population living in poverty- so you could imagine how devastating a hurricane with 140+mph winds would be for people living in tiny homes with corrugated metal roofs.
GUIDEPOSTS: What are the biggest problems the people are facing right now?
BD: As a child-focused organization, our first priority is bringing aid to those that are most vulnerable. With roads blocked by fallen trees and cell towers down, Haitians in most need really are the hardest to reach right now. Along with food and shelter, the greatest concern has got to be clean water and the threat of cholera, which is why World Vision started immediately responding with things like clean water, hygiene kits, and tarps and duct tape to support temporary shelter needs.
We’ve helped almost 25,000 people so far. And with 80-90% of crops destroyed in some areas, we need to think about not only bringing in food, but helping people get ready for the next planting season, which starts in about a week.
GUIDEPOSTS: I know World Vision was already working in Haiti. Was anyone from the team there when the hurricane hit?
BD: I’m hearing stories from staff about homes being destroyed, and churches being completely flattened. It’s devastating and heart breaking. Once our local team responds to the immediate needs of their friends and neighbors, they’ll continue to partnering with communities in longer-term development projects like water irrigation, education and health programs
GUIDEPOSTS: Have you been able to speak with people affected by the hurricane?
BD: One of my World Vision co-workers shared some shocking pictures of her home that had been destroyed by Hurricane Matthew as well as before and after pictures of the church in her village which had been completely flattened.
GUIDEPOSTS: How long will it take the people of Haiti to recover from this?
BD: Our initial hurricane response is scheduled to last for about six months, which means we have staff flying in from all over the world to help support the work we’re doing to serve the 1.4 million people affected by the disaster.
GUIDEPOSTS: What can we in the States do to help?
BD: I would love for people in the US to pray, but also go to www.worldvision.org to find out how learn more about our work and give to the relief efforts on the ground. In my church we always say, ‘pray like it depends on God, but work like it depends on you.’
There are more agencies assisting on the ground in Haiti. Here are a few that need your help.