This January marks five years since one of the world’s most devastating earthquakes hit Haiti. There were over 200,000 people reported dead and an estimated 1.5m left homeless. A cholera epidemic shortly followed the earthquake’s devastation, only adding to misery. Five years later and the country is still recovering from the effects of the earthquake, but Haiti is determined to ‘build back better’.
In the most recent issue of Sojourners Jim Rice highlights one organization that is helping this movement to ‘build back better’–Compassion International. The organization is based in Colorado and was initially developed to focus on child development.
Compassion International exists as a Christian child advocacy ministry that releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults. ~Compassion International Mission Statement
Although the organization does not focus on reconstruction efforts, the immediate need to rebuild schools for children after the earthquake was evident, so the organization responded.
The international community appropriated approximately 1.8 billion dollars for humanitarian relief in Haiti; however, only 0.3% of those funds were actually used for the public. Lack of sustainable development–this is what has and continues to hinder the country from recovering at full capacity. To combat these struggles, Compassion International is committed to a different approach towards reconstruction and social efforts. The organization teaches and employs the local people for building projects, educating them on building standards, protocol, and appropriate use of materials. Sustainable development–this is what Compassion strives toward, so that the people will be able to sustain themselves long after. In addition, the organization has established micro-lending opportunities for individuals to start their own businesses, creating more job opportunities. Unlike many other organizations that have gone through government agencies or NGOs to aid the people of Haiti, Compassion focuses on aiding individuals directly and through local community organizations. i.e. churches Compassion International emphasizes the importance of having “Compassion Haiti run by Haitians”.
Other groups have come into the country, with the best of intentions, and tried to impose what they think Haiti needs. Compassion Haiti is run by Haitians. ~quote taken from Sojourners, On a Firm Foundation, p. 46
In reflecting on Compassion’s mission and approach to helping Haiti build Haiti better, I can’t help but think of the work we do in the ministry of Justice.
~’What’ are we being called to do?
~Is the ‘what’ we do the important part of our call?
Rather, maybe we should all approach our work in Justice as Compassion has in Haiti….
~How are we being called to do the work?
~Are we truly listening or simply acting?
~How are we being called to carry out the ministry of Justice?
Jackie, SJW Justice Office Program Assistant