Relief Efforts Continue in Haiti After Earthquake

January 21, 2010

Over a week since the 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit Haiti on January 12, the nation is still being affected by large aftershocks, including a 6.1-magnitude event yesterday morning. However, the continued geological events are only one challenge facing those trying to provide relief in Haiti.

Despite the efforts of international aid organizations, food, water and other critical resources are still greatly needed by many residents of Port-au-Prince and other parts of the country. Congested runways and ports have made it difficult to get materials into Haiti, and while the situation is slowly improving, lack of available fuel continues to hinder the transport of available supplies to those in need.

“We’ve been working closely with the Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic to get shipments into Haiti on a daily basis,” said Kirsten Muth, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Senior Program Director, who is currently working on the ground with Katie Mears, Program Manager for USA Disaster Preparedness and Response.

“We are also using helicopter support from our partner Worldwide Village to provide medical supplies and food to affected rural communities and parishes, including Gressier, Grand Colline and Trouin,” said Mears. “The team here has also recently secured additional transport vehicles, which are allowing us to deliver more supplies and reach a larger number of people. Relief efforts are expanding daily.”

By collaborating with diocesan staff in the Dominican Republic to secure vehicles and create channels through which they can help those most impacted by this disaster, Episcopal Relief & Development is establishing a long-term response mechanism that can continue to operate efficiently as the recovery process gets underway in the coming weeks and months.

In addition to assisting with daily supply shipments, Episcopal Relief & Development is working to stabilize communications through the provision of satellite phones and solar power chargers.

The satellite phones will enable coordination of efforts between dioceses and increase Episcopal Relief & Development’s ability to communicate with Bishop Duracin and his colleagues as they serve the thousands of survivors that have congregated in their tent camp in Port-au-Prince. Maintaining these channels of communication will also be crucial during the recovery process.

“The infrastructure of the church, even where damaged and wounded, represents an amazing network of people, skills and resources,” said Muth. “It is important that we continue to support the people of Haiti as they take the lead in the nation’s recovery.”

While they face enormous challenges, the Haitian clergy are immensely grateful for the prayers and support coming from the United States. In a letter to the Episcopal Church, the Rev. Lauren Stanley, The Episcopal Church Appointed Missionary to Haiti, writes, “On behalf of the Bishop of Haiti, the Rt. Rev. Jean Zaché Duracin, first let me say Mèsi anpil, thank you very much, for your love, your prayers, your support, your generosity and your kindness.”

The letter also states that while the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti is appreciative of the compassion and concerns of Episcopalians in the US, Bishop Duracin is discouraging mission trips at this time.

“I believe the best course of action right now is to pray, to be generous in your financial assistance and to begin praying about how you can respond in the future,” continues Stanley. “Please know that Bishop Duracin is counting on everyone here to work together, to help the people and to be faithful. Together, we WILL help God’s beloved children in Haiti.”

For access to the most up-to-date information, a video interview with Bishop Duracin, downloadable bulletin inserts and other resources, visit the Haiti Crisis page.

To assist those suffering in the wake of this disaster, please consider making a donation to Episcopal Relief & Development’s Haiti Earthquake Response Fund at or call 1-800-334-7626, ext. 5129. Gifts can be mailed to Episcopal Relief & Development, PO Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116-7058. Please write “Haiti Earthquake Response Fund” in the memo of all checks.

Episcopal Relief & Development is the international relief and development agency of the Episcopal Church of the United States and an independent 501(c)(3) organization. The agency takes its mandate from Jesus’ words found in Matthew 25. Its programs work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Together with the worldwide Church and ecumenical partners, Episcopal Relief & Development strengthens communities today to meet tomorrow’s challenges. We rebuild after disasters and empower people by offering lasting solutions that fight poverty, hunger and disease, including HIV/AIDS and malaria.