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Rains arrive in Haiti
by Rob Radtke

My colleague Tammi Mott has been stationed in Haiti to work with the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti on recovery efforts following the January 12 earthquake. She shares below her experience of the beginning of the rainy season and what it will mean for Haitians already struggling in the quake’s aftermath.

PhilogenePhilogène demonstrates how she held up her tent all night to try to keep the rain from pooling and leaking inside. One evening a few weeks ago, as we were winding down the day in Port-au-Prince, heavy rain started falling. Those drops announced the arrival of the rain and hurricane season that will continue through October.

The rainy season is bringing yet another layer of trials for people hit hard by the January 12 earthquake. Philogène Magalie and her family are currently living with about 3,000 others in a tent camp at College St. Pierre, a school run by the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti (our program partner). “The water was coming down on our heads and up around our ankles,” she told me. "All we could do was hold on… and now we are trying to dry out before the rain falls again."

The biggest and most obvious hardship is for people like Philogène, who is among an estimated 1.3 million that lost their homes to the quake. But really, the rain's arrival is a huge blow for all. As Père Frantz Cole said, "The rain falls on everyone. It falls on those in camps and those in temporary shelters or homes in disrepair. It falls on people in the flood plains and on the sliding mountainsides, and it falls on the rich and the poor alike." Père Cole is Director of CEDDISEC, the development arm of the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti. The agency has supplied over 710 tarps, 900 tents and materials for building temporary shelters to more than 2,000 homeless families in Port-au-Prince and around Léogone (the quake’s epicenter). With the rain’s onset, CEDDISEC is helping people raise their tents off the ground with platforms and making sure that drainage systems are in place so shelter areas won’t flood.

It's bad enough that the rain is adding new challenges to everyday life for people who have already gone through so much. But it’s also dashing the hopes of many who wanted to try to recover their belongings from the rubble. And even those who were lucky enough to salvage items are now struggling to keep them dry, like Philogène's neighbor in the camp—a local university director who chose to get soaked himself so he could keep his precious books safely covered.

Please pray for the people of Haiti in the face of these ongoing hardships, and for our partners—Bishop Duracin and the diocesan and CEDDISEC staff—who have suffered as much loss as the people they serve, yet continue ministering to the overwhelming needs while trying to plan for the long road to recovery.

Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting the Diocese of Haiti in addressing the urgent need for transitional housing that will withstand the rainy season. To learn more about our work in Haiti, please visit our Haiti Crisis web page.

Episcopal Relief & Development is the international relief and development agency of the Episcopal Church of the United States. As an independent 501(c) (3) organization, Episcopal Relief & Development 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.



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