Most of you have heard news and reports of Hurricane Matthew, which poured over the Caribbean this week and is currently headed up the east coast. The city where Haiti Design Co-op is located, Port-au-Prince, was generally spared from the damages of the wind and rain, but the southern part of our precious island was not as fortunate.
The full extent of the damage is not yet clear, but it is clear that there has been agricultural devastation, catastrophic property damage, as well as loss of life throughout the southern region of Haiti. There are many in the southern peninsula that have lost investments that they had poured time and money into such as gardens and livestock. These are effects that might not be the first thing to cross our minds, but have a long lasting impact on the people in the region. For many they have lost their means of feeding their families or making any money at all. Along side these losses, Haiti, which is no stranger to Cholera and other waterborne diseases, is now at risk for a resurgence of illnesses again as flood waters have contaminated water sources, and many do not have the means or access to clean drinking water. These problems alone, the loss of gardens, and restricted access to safe water, could potentially be more devastating for Haiti than the initial impact of the storm.
To make things worse, much of the structural damage incurred from the storm includes bridges and roadways to the main cities in need in the southern region. This has put a large damper on immediate disaster response efforts as first responders are relying on mostly aviation organizations to bring supplies and manpower to the affected areas. There are some great organizations doing this work- Mission Aviation Fellowship, Missionary Flights International, and Hero Dispatch to name a few- but large-scale aid influx has the potential to be bottlenecked until road conditions improve.
When approaching relief efforts, we need to be very cognizant of how to prevent more loss in the wake of disaster. Starvation, cholera, and other waterborne disease are real and imminent threats in the aftermath of a natural disaster here in Haiti that need to be addressed promptly.
It is vital that relief and aid efforts do not further damage the local Haitian economy. Our in-house development committee, HDC in Action, has been working to assess the needs of those within our workshop & their families. In order to support local economy during this tragic time, we will be putting together necessity boxes for those impacted most with items purchased from the local market, as well as fundraising for rebuilding efforts for specific families we know suffered the loss of their homes during the storm. There are some areas where we are still waiting for more information on the full extent of the damage, but we do know the death toll has been steadily rising each day. We are doing our best to support our employees and their families during this time, and also wisely invest donations in ways that we believe provide immediate relief, but will be beneficial for the families in the long run. If you would like to join us in supporting the families of our employees that were impacted from this tragic storm, you can donate here-
We are so thankful for the support we’ve received for one of our valued team members, Manno and his family so far! We are overjoyed that we will be able to contribute to rebuilding a home for his family! Additionally, there are thousands more people in identical situations as his. There is much work to be done. We wanted to take the opportunity to direct you to people and organizations who are based in Haiti and currently working on relief efforts in the South. These people know how to administer aid respectfully, they know the language, and do their best to support Haiti in the face of disaster.
Haiti One- This organization is delivering supplies to organizations for distribution in Les Cayes (one of the cities hit hardest).
Mission Aviation Fellowship- MAF is one of the few organization that is able to reach many areas in the South because of bridge destruction. There are a few small airports open in the area, where MAF is able to bring in supplies. They have started to bring in medical teams and other relief support as well.
Thank you so much for loving Haiti with us and standing alongside us during this time.
-The HDC team