Rachel Zelon, Executive Director of HRI, recounts her recent visit to Haiti:
It was amazing to see how much has changed in the nearly two years that HRI has been working in Haiti. The earthquake took an unimaginable toll on the country and hundreds of thousands of people are still
displaced and/or in temporary shelter. However, the resilience of the Haitian people was clear to see everywhere we traveled. Clean up still underway, new construction – some buildings more sturdy than others but people moving forward nonetheless. The 2011 school year had just begun and the streets of Port au Prince and other cities were filled with children, teens and young adults all returning to their studies and excited about another year of education. There is hope in the face of disaster and HRI is proud to be part of that hope and to offer our hand to this country of strong and resilient people.
It was the strength and wonder of the children that HRI works with – many that were orphaned by the earthquake and others who survived intact within the precarious walls of the orphanages that was most moving. We found children no longer living in fear, preparing for their studies and looking forward to each new day. HRI’s partners, C3 Global and over 20 U.S. churches, have worked with us to provide a stable source of nutritious food each day. In addition, many of the churches and orphanage directors have created environments of love and warmth that have allowed these children to once again enjoy being children.
Our warehouse in St. Marc was filled with food and the 46 farmers HRI works with are feeling a huge weight lifted from their shoulders. The stable source of income that HRI is providing to these farmers and their families has enabled them to look forward to each new harvest and to enjoy the knowledge that they are able to send their children to school and purchase what they need for their households at the local markets.
HRI has an amazing staff in Haiti lead by Dr. Didie Louis, HRI Country Representative. As we gear up to pursue new opportunities that will provide even greater support to orphaned children in Haiti, I am comfortable that our efforts will bear fruit as the lives of Haiti’s next generation of adults, parents and government leaders is at stake. There is nothing greater than working towards new opportunities and a better future for children, adults and an entire country.