Baptist workers report progress, point to need on second anniversary of Haiti quake - Word&Way

Baptist workers report progress, point to need on second anniversary of Haiti quake

GRAND GOAVE, Haiti (ABP)—While international attention long since has moved on to other stories like the pro-democracy Arab Spring and U.S. presidential election, the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake remains a present reality in Haiti, Baptist workers reported on the disaster's second anniversary.

Steven and Nancy James, who serve in Haiti jointly appointed by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and American Baptist Churches USA, noted in a blog that generous donations and volunteer labor have accomplished much in two years, but there still is much to be done.

"Tons of rubble have been removed, schools are once again in progress, a new president has been elected and things are starting to look 'normal,'—a 'new normal,' as nothing will ever be the same again," the couple reported.

The work in Haiti has moved from the early phase of disaster relief to recovery. Baptist volunteers have worked alongside Haitian workers to construct "earthquake-proof" houses built with the rubble from the destroyed homes to provide sustainable shelter for those who were living in tents. While more than a million people displaced by the quake are now in permanent shelters, an estimated 500,000 still live in tents.

"It is easy to despair when it seems there is still so much work to be done, but we see signs of hope," they said. 

One sign of hope is the rebuilding of a demolished school, which has become one of the finest schools in the town of Grand Goave, where many Baptist relief-and-recovery efforts are based. Baptists rebuilt Siloë Baptist Church School, constructing 13 classrooms and an administration building.

The work began with volunteer labor by both Americans and Haitians. But over time, the Haitian work crew was paid a modest wage and free lunch every workday for 18 months. American volunteers often commented that one of the highlights of the experience was laboring alongside the local workers, CBF workers Michael and Brenda Harwood reported.