ATLANTA (ABP) -- The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has collected more than $1.1 million for earthquake relief in Haiti, the Atlanta-based organization reported April 13.
Contributions to the Fellowship's Haiti response effort include a $600,000 anonymous gift and donations from churches as far away as Thailand and the Philippines. The Union of Evangelical Churches in Chile collected just over $1,000 for Haiti relief before an earthquake hit their country Feb. 27, but they decided to forward the money to CBF instead of diverting for their own relief efforts.
"The Philippines, Thailand and Chile have all seen extensive disasters in their own contexts, yet, these folks continue to look beyond their own suffering and challenges to join with us in meeting the needs of our Haitian brothers and sisters," said CBF Global Missions Coordinator Rob Nash. "I'm grateful that these institutions see CBF as a place to network in order to meet human need globally."
The Fellowship's Haiti response involves a disaster-response plan that includes both short-term needs like food, water and temporary shelter and longer-term plans like rebuilding orphanages, micro-enterprise efforts to help Haitians rebuild, counseling and building earthquake-resistant housing.
"My hope is that Cooperative Baptist Fellowship can come alongside the Haitian people to empower and encourage them so that by God's grace they can transform their society," said CBF Executive Coordinator Daniel Vestal, who traveled to Haiti in March to see relief work in progress. "My experience in Haiti, though brief, was humbling and overwhelming."
The Fellowship is one of several North American Baptist groups in a consortium to coordinate responses to the Jan. 12 earthquake that killed 230,000 and left 700,000 homeless in Haiti.
Baptist World Aid, the relief-and-development arm of the Baptist World Alliance, was host of a recent roundtable meeting where participants from CBF; American Baptist Churches, USA; Baptist General Association of Virginia; Baptist General Convention of Texas;, Baylor Health Care System; Buckner International; Canadian Baptist Ministries; Hungarian Baptist Aid; Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention; Baptist State Convention of North Carolina Baptists and Texas Baptist Men met with representatives of Baptist Convention of Haiti and the Baptist Haiti Mission to discuss long-term needs.
American Baptist Churches USA recently provided a grant of $70,500 so that 94 Haitian college students who were attending colleges and universities in the Port-au-Prince area can continue their studies. Scholarships of $750 will go toward tuition at Christian University of North Haiti, an institution outside of the earthquake damage zone. The scholarships will allow Haiti's future leaders to complete studies in theology, business administration, agriculture and agronomy deemed critical for Haiti's long-term recovery and sustainability.
A delegation of leaders from American Baptist International Ministries traveled to Haiti March 17-19 to discuss a mid-term plan for Haiti recovery and rebuilding to be implemented over the next several years.
"Even with extensive media coverage, it is difficult to comprehend the extent of the earthquake's devastation without being there," International Ministries Executive Director reflected after the trip. "While many people are still numbed by the shock of the quake, I was deeply moved by the resolve of our Haitian brothers and sisters."
American Baptists have given to date more than $1.9 million for Haiti relief through the One Great Hour of Sharing, an ecumenical relief offering that collects gifts for humanitarian aid from nine Christian denominations including ABC/USA.
The Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention also recently sent a small team to Haiti to listen, learn and offer encouragement and to plan for a new 90-day strategy. The historically black convention named after a former slave and one the first Baptist missionaries from America to go to West Africa established an early goal of providing grocery grants to 1,000 families affected by the Haiti earthquake.
Thanks to efficiency by partners, the funds were stretched to provide about a week's worth of groceries to 1,280 families. Modest cash grants were given to 1,000 families. Lott Carey Baptists plan to extend their ministries of hospitality and nutrition through the next several weeks.
One of the projects included in the CBF's Haiti response is with the Fuller Center for Housing, which can build an earthquake-resistant single-family home constructed of Styrofoam blocks, concrete and rebar for less than $3,000. http://www.fullercenter.org/news/fuller-center-to-build-homes-in-haiti-with-lazarian-world-homes
Baptist World Aid also committed $30,000 to build 10 such houses, which are also designed to withstand a hurricane.
CBF projects also include a $50,000 allocation to Mercer University to provide low-cost prosthetics to Haitians who lost limbs in the earthquake. Ha Van Vo, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Mercer, designed a prosthetic leg that can be produced for as little as $200 compared to customized prosthetics, which can range in cost from $500 to several thousand dollars.