As you are well aware, Haiti has undergone the worse flooding probably in its history. The flooding and destruction has been nationwide. I cannot remember this happening before. The reports we are getting from our sister churches are heart wrenching as we hear of the complete destruction of crops and the tremendous loss of livestock in so many areas. Many have lost their homes and belongings. Some have lost loved ones. Thankfully, it seems the loss of life has been minimal in the areas where we minister.
Our team in Haiti has been meeting with as many pastors as they can to get information as well as find out how we can best help them in this time of need. They have also met with the Executive Committee of the MEBSH to gather their input and advice as to how to best help their churches during this very difficult time. As they have gathered this information, one theme has been echoed by many. The pastors have shared that although food is a great need for the people, it can be bought in most every area at this time. Rice, beans, etc are available locally.
The real issue is the funds to purchase the food. Another aspect that many brought out is that many people might have greater needs than food at this time. Many have had their homes damaged or washed away entirely. Many have no problem with their home, but due to water getting into the home have lost many of their possessions, clothes, etc.. Again, funds would be a better solution for them than a bag of rice at this time. Another consideration is that funds can be distributed much more quickly and in a more orderly fashion than can food. Still another consideration has been the local economic benefit that an influx of funds would supply.
After several conference calls between the team in Haiti and Rob and I, we have determined together what we feel is the best course of action.
Therefore, we are now asking our Sister Churches that are desirous and able to help with relief to send funds through RMI to be distributed to each Sister Church. As mentioned before, to help join the relief effort, RMI will not be assessing our typical 10% administrative fee.
The RMI team in Haiti will get the funds exchanged into Haitian currency and then distribute the funds to each Sister Church Pastor. The Pastor will then meet with the church leadership committee to determine how the funds will be divided up depending on where the greatest needs are.
Recipient families will be given money to help them with their specific needs. A report will be given back to RMI from each Sister Church on who the funds were given to and how the funds were used. These reports will then be forwarded back to each donating church. As you can imagine, we are working hard to address the issues of security, transparency and accountability throughout this effort.
How much aid is needed for each church? I am afraid the answer is whatever God provides. One way to present this to your people is for a family to help a family. A 50lb bag of rice, a 20lb bag of beans, and a gallon of cooking oil together would cost about $110 US. So for $110, a family here in the US can potentially help a family in Haiti with food that would last quite a while for them. Again, please be aware that the funds will be divided up on site according to need and situation and not exactly according to the above. The funds could also potentially be used to purchase other food items, clothes, transportation, medical care, agricultural supplies, livestock, roof and house repairs, etc.. Yes, the needs are great! Hopefully this gives you a guideline for you and your congregation as you seek to “do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.".
If you are a member of a Sister Church, please contact your church's RMI Sister Church Program Coordinator to find our if your church is collecting funds. If so, you can give through your church.
If you are not able to give through an RMI Sister Church, you can give individually by sending a check to RMI or by giving online. Your funds will be used to provide relief as our RMI team in Haiti deems appropriate.