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Weathering the Storms in Haiti

by Gerry Lynch last modified 13 Feb, 2018 01:42 PM

Haitian Christian Aid worker will bring Caribbean nation to life at Warminster and Wimborne events

The reality of delivering development projects in a country hit by hurricanes, storms and a devastating earthquake will be brought to life for the Diocese of Salisbury when a Christian Aid worker from Haiti visits Warminster and Wimborne at the end of this month.

Senior Programme Officer Victoria Jean-Louis works with local partner organisations on the ground in Haiti helping provide storm-proof housing and climate-change resilient crops so that local communities in the Western hemisphere’s poorest country can help themselves despite the odds.

She will speak at a dinner with a Haitian theme in Warminster Civic Centre on Tuesday 27 February and again at an evening event at Church House in Wimborne on Friday 2 March, during a whirlwind week-long tour of the South West giving her first-hand account of the stories and themes highlighted in this year’s Christian Aid Week (May 13-19).

Last year local Christian Aid groups and churches across the Diocese of Salisbury raised £189,830 during Christian Aid Week through a range of fundraising events and door to door collections.

Haiti was hit by a catastrophic earthquake in January 2010 when an estimated 220,000 people lost their lives and 1.5million people were left without homes. Christian Aid helped build robust homes which have since stood through storms including Hurricane Matthew, which wreaked further havoc across the south of the country in November 2016 destroying up to 90% of property in some areas.

Victoria said, “Each rainy season we start to prepare mentally for disaster, for loss. Climate change has had a major impact on life in Haiti. Not only have natural disasters increased and grown more violent, but Haiti remains largely dependent on agriculture and as the seasons have changed it is necessary to apply climate change adaptation techniques for agriculture to thrive.

“Farmers throughout the country are suffering from these changes and food security is a major issue.

“But at the same time there is encouragement. In many rural areas where we work, temporary shelters can be very far away and it is the hurricane resistant homes that Christian Aid has built that serve as shelters for the family itself, for children, the elderly and so many more in the community.

“There is a saying in Haiti that says ‘piti, piti, ti zwazo fe niche li’ and it means little by little a bird builds its nest. 

“If each one of us does a bit, does our part then together we can make a big difference. The problems are indeed huge, but when we all get together we can have tremendous impact.

“I’ll be bringing the message to Warminster and Wimborne that I have seen how a little can go a long way. A small contribution can transform a family’s life, can allow a family to improve their family farm allowing them to feed their family and sell their yield to pay school fees, medical bills and meet other critical needs.

“I am looking forward to sharing these stories.”

Christian Aid regional coordinator for Dorset, Fiona Daborn said, “Christian Aid Week unites thousands of churches every year to achieve incredible things to support our global neighbours in need, who are often suffering through no fault of their own.

“An estimated 38,000 people are still displaced today in Haiti today as a result of the earthquake alone and across the globe there are around 40 million internally-displaced people who have lost their homes and livelihoods as a result of conflict, climate change or natural disasters.

“Hearing Victoria speak will no doubt be sobering, but also inspiring as we hear of the impact of our work in Haiti where we walk alongside communities, listen to their needs and provide the urgently-needed tools to get back on their feet and thrive.

“Everyone is welcome to come and hear Victoria speak and be part of bringing about change as we #cometogether in the run up to Christian Aid Week.”

The three course dinner with a Haitian theme and a talk from Victoria at the Civic Centre Warminster, Civic Centre, Sambourne Road, Warminster BA12 8LB, will be from 7:30 to 9:30pm on Tuesday 27 February. Tickets are £20 (call 01985 216056 or 01985 301137, or email warminsterca@btinternet.com.  

The evening event at Church House, Wimborne, BH21 1HT, starts at 7.30pm on Friday 2 March. Tea, coffee and biscuits will be provided and there will be a question and answer session with Victoria.

Christian Aid Week was set up over 60 years ago and is Britain’s longest-standing door-to-door fundraising week.  You can help to change the lives of people forced to lose or leave their homes due to disasters and conflict by donating online at www.caweek.org calling 08080 006 006, or texting ‘GIVE’ to 70040 to give £5.

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