"The earthquake that hit the capital city, where both CRWRC and Christian Reformed World Missions personnel are stationed, was severe," CRWRC Director, Ida Kaastra Mutoigo reported this morning. "But we have confirmed that all Christian Reformed staff are safe."
CRWRC has been working in Haiti for more than 30 years. By partnering with local churches and community organizations, CRWRC has empowered Haitian people to see themselves community leaders rather than victims of poverty. In this new time of crisis, these local partners are now leading their communities in responding to the most urgent needs.
"During a disaster like this, it is hard to see anything positive," said Ken Little, CRWRC's Disaster Response Senior Project Manager, "but one strength that we do have is local leaders and community connections who can quickly identify needs and help us distribute aid to those most in need in a timely and effective way."
CRWRC's immediate response will be to meet urgent needs for things like water, shelter and food. "We want to get survivors out of the sun, out of the damage, and hydrated," said CRWRC's Disaster Programme Manager, Jacqueline Koster.
CRWRC-Haiti staff member and Dutch expatriot, Ad DeBlaeij, toured some of Port au Prince yesterday morning. He reports, "There are thousands upon thousands of people in the streets. Most of them slept outside last night because of fear of aftershocks. In front of the CRWRC offices, there are 400 people just sitting on the ground, and they'll likely be there for the next day or two until it is safe for them to return to what is left of their homes."
As CRWRC provides aid, it is also collaborating with other organizations to ensure that the efforts are coordinated and no needs fall through the gaps. "At this stage of the response it is about meeting the immediate needs," said Koster, "but we want to be sure that our collective response has the greatest possible benefit in the long-term by coordinating our activities."
On Friday, Mr. Little will be travelling to Haiti to assess needs and prepare plans for additional aid. He expects that CRWRC's response will include temporary shelter as well as long-term home repair and reconstruction.
Financial contributions for CRWRC's response are urgently needed. Gifts marked "Haiti Earthquake 2010" can be given online at www.crwrc.org, called in to 1-800-730-3490 (Canada) or sent to 3475 Mainway, PO Box STN LCD 1, Burlington, ON, L7R 3Y8. In the US, please call 1-800-552-7972 or mail checks to CRWRC, 2850 Kalamazoo Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, MI, 49560.
At this time it is unclear whether or not additional volunteers will be needed for CRWRC's response. Those who are interested in volunteering should direct their inquiries to Carol Sybenga at 1-800-730-3490 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.