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Haiti Trade Schools recover from Hurricane Matthew

“It was the afternoon of Oct 4th, 2016 and the wind was starting to pick up. We were told that a hurricane was on its way but didn’t expect it to be too damaging. The winds continued to increase over the next several hours leading into the evening. We soon started to realize that we needed to take shelter in a more secure location as the roof of our home and surrounding buildings were getting ripped off with the powerful winds. Along with my family and neighboring families, a total of 11 of us packed into our 5’ x 5’ brick shelter. For the next twelve hours, we hunkered down and experienced the 130-150 mph winds that come along with the hurricane. Words cannot describe the magnitude of this horrific storm as we all thought we were going to die that evening. We were all thankful to be alive when next morning after the storm had subsided, we looked out and discovered that everything – everything – was flattened and destroyed. The next several weeks became a matter of survival for those in our community. Food and supplies became extremely difficult to acquire as the roads were blocked with downed trees and rubble from damaged buildings.”

This is a story that was shared from the administrator of the Port-a-Piment Trade School to our Haiti Trade School (HTS) committee during our March 2017 visit. Hurricane Matthew did massive damage to the southwestern portion of Haiti. Of our five trade schools, Port-a-Piment suffered the most damage, as all buildings of the school were in disrepair, and computers, solar panels, power tools, and equipment was ruined. The community at Port-a-Piment has been significantly affected. Over 40% of the local residents have left the area to find housing and work elsewhere. This will have a continued impact on the community and schools. Our committee worked with the local school board to determine if we should even rebuild. Through prayer and God’s leading, inspired by a willingness of the local leadership, the school board decided to rebuild. Over the course of the past eight months, the school buildings are being rebuilt by the students themselves, and we expect to have everything ready for classes to begin in the fall of 2017.

It is difficult for most of us in our industrialized and developed society to fully understand the hardship that a natural disaster such as Hurricane Matthew causes to the country of Haiti. While we may experience sudden loss, it is often only a matter of hours before an emergency action plan is put in place, and help is on the way. For most Haitians, all they can see is the loss. Communication in the hardest hit areas was simply not available for days, and any hope for relief was much longer. Those that recounted the experience of surviving the long and relentless night of the hurricane could only shake their heads and say, “It was horrible’. But the long-term impact was not entirely felt until several months later as the reality of a destroyed fruit crop and interrupted jobs settled in. While we in America may become discouraged with setbacks, we have financial resources and can at least go to stores to buy materials and rent equipment, and start the rebuilding process. In Haiti, where they have neither vision nor options, the darkness of that dreaded night lingers on.

Other trade schools also had damage from the hurricane. Chantal School, located one hour west of Les Cayes, lost half of their roof, and Petit-Trou, which is on the north coast, lost a portion of two of their classroom roofs. Material to repair these roofs have since been delivered and installed.

At the Port a Piment trade school, students who once had hope of learning a trade were given the chance to put their training to use by rebuilding their own school. With the support of outside organizations such as HarvestCall, their discouragement is being replaced with enthusiasm, and the love of God is now bringing hope to a very troubled land.

How You Can Help

Please pray for the Trade Schools, that they could be restored fully and be a blessing to those who want to develop their God-given talents. If you would like to financially support the HTS, contributions can be made on the HarvestCall website (www.harvestcall.org) or by a check to HarvestCall (PO Box 3797, West Lafayette, IN 47996) with Haiti Trade Schools in the memo.