On fifth anniversary of earthquake, ministry in Haiti continues

January 12, 2015

LOUISVILLE

Today is the fifth anniversary of the massive 2010 earthquake in Haiti that killed more than 316,000 and destroyed 250,000 residences and more than 30,000 commercial buildings. Haiti was already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

But Cindy Corell, Presbyterian mission co-worker in Haiti, sees signs of great progress, including better roads, a modern airport and new small businesses opening regularly.

“Five years after the terrible earthquake and an ensuing epidemic of cholera in which thousands of Haitians died, most people here find hope in the chaos, give prayer in response to worry and continue on their daily lives,” Corell said.

She said another concern is that much of the international aid that was promised to Haiti after the earthquake either didn’t come through or was squandered on ill-planned development.

And much of the aid coming from the United States went into projects overwhelmingly granted to U.S. firms rather than to Haitian companies.

On the anniversary of this huge disaster, there are also worries about the country’s fragile government, which is working feverishly to avoid chaos. Because local and parliamentary elections have not been held (because of a lack of cooperation between opposition parties and President Michel Martelly’s administration) for three years, the remaining senators and deputies will leave their terms today without successors. If they leave their seats empty, Parliament will in effect dissolve, leaving the president to rule by decree.

There are talks under way today (with a deadline of midnight) to establish an appropriate electoral law and extend the terms of senators and deputies.

“The Haitians covet our prayers,” Corell said. “Please continue to keep them all in prayer for a working and compassionate government, a strong agriculture season, investments that provide good jobs and continued courage. It is the Haitian people — their competence, their hopeful attitudes, their sense of humor and their tireless work ethic — that inspires all of us who represent Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) here in this beautiful island nation.

In 2010, when she made her first trip to Haiti, Correll sensed a heartfelt connection with the Caribbean country and its people. She left a 27-year career as a journalist to accept a Presbyterian mission appointment in Haiti.

 

Corell works with Mark Hare and Jenny Bent, who were already mission co-workers in Haiti and work in the Dominican Republic as well. Suzette Goss-Geffrard joined the Haiti team in 2013.

The PC(USA) has been involved in Haiti for many years, working in health, hunger and education ministries through a partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti.