Tag Archives: Food for the Hungry

Haiti: A Call to Responsible Action

Yesterday evening, a huge, 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit right outside Port-au-Prince, the capital city of Haiti. There is a small timetable where the most vulnerable – those who are trapped under the rubble, who are injured, and who lack access to clean water, food, and medical supplies. According to the Christian Science Monitor, “the International Red Cross estimates as many as three million people may have been left homeless by Tuesday’s earthquake in Haiti.” (Source)

With an education in Communty Development, I understand the importance of doing relief work quickly and efficiently in situations such as this one. Those who are experienced in this type of work are the ones who need to be supported right now.

Often times people who have very good intentions want to help, and believe that the most effective way to help is by going to be at the location of a natural disaster right after the event happens. When inexperienced people come to the site of a natural disaster, there is great potential to hinder the relief operations and/or to not be as culturally sensitive to the needs of the affected people.

As of a couple hours ago, the airport in Port-au-Prince is still closed, so it is very hard to even get experienced relief workers into the country. I am following Twitter updates from the Food for the Hungry Emergency Relief Unit. Their past couple of tweets indicate this. You can follow them at twitter.com/FH_ERU.

If people are looking for the best possible way to give in the immediate future, I would encourage them to give financially, and to pray. Pray that the relief operations will be able to start as soon as possible, and that the necessary people and supplies would be able to enter the country.

The following organizations are ones that I would be comfortable giving my money to for the purposes of relief work in Haiti (more will be added soon to this list).

Below is a list of more organizations (Here’s the source of a lot from this list. I am adding to it):
Emmanuel Gospel Center: http://www.egc.org/
Haiti Reborn: quixote.org/haiti
Church World Services: www.churchworldservice.org
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance: www.pcusa.org
World Vision: donate.worldvision.org
Bright Hope: www.brighthope.org
UMC Disaster Response: secure.gbgm-umc.org/donations
UNICEF: www.unicefusa.org
Christian Aid: www.christianaid.org.uk
Americares: www.americares.org
Mercy Corps: donate.mercycorps.org
American Red Cross: newsroom.redcross.org
United Church of Christ: www.ucc.org
Disciple’s Week of Compassion: secure.groundspring.org
Episcopal Relief: www.er-d.org
Reformed Church in America: www.rca.org
Oxfam: www.oxfam.org
Habitat For Humanity: www.habitat.org
Haiti Emergency Relief Fund: www.haitiaction.net
World Care: www.worldcare.org
Save the Children: www.savethechildren.org

Despite the quick action that the current crisis calls for, Haiti has a long road ahead of them filled with recovery and development. Once the days have turned into weeks, and the weeks into months, Haiti will need more than handouts intended for relief in the immediate aftermath of the quake.

There is a big difference between relief and development. Relief can be defined as helping people who are helpless to meet their most basic needs. Development, on the other hand, should be done when people ARE able to meet their most basic needs.

The challenge that those who want to help Haiti in the long run face is allowing Haitians to take control of THEIR country, and to make decisions for themselves. As development practitioners, we must be thinking about helping the poor to help themselves.

Bryant Myers, in his book “Walking With the Poor,” describes 4 key relationships that must be addressed in community development work:

  1. Relationship with God
  2. Relationship with Self
  3. Relationship with Others
  4. Relationship with the Environment

If the poor do not know God as their personal savior, they are missing out on the most important thing. If they think they they personally do not have any skills or experiences to help themselves, then they are living in denial and must be encouraged and shown that they DO have God-given skills, gifts and abilities. If they have several enemies, some of whom may be more powerful and oppress them, then they will most likely loose the little bit that they do have through bribes and oppression. And finally, if they do not take care of the environment or know how to plant a garden, then they will have a much harder time putting food onto the table.

I firmly believe that Community Development must begin with affirming the poor for who they are, for their abilities, and for their ability to make decisions. Americans (and other rich, primarily-Western developers) must not make decisions for the poor, and must not do things “For” or “To” the poor.

Instead, we are called to something better. We are called to affirm their dignity. We are called to let them make their own decisions, and let them tell us what they need.

William Easterly would agree. In his book, “The White Man’s Burden, Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done so Much Ill and so Little Good,” he writes “Poor people have already accomplished far more for themselves than [people who make plans disregarding the poor’s interest] have accomplished for them.” He also writes, “The needs of the poor don’t get met because the poor have little money or political power with which to make their needs known and they cannot hold anyone accountable to meet those needs.”

Over the next weeks and months, let us continue to help Haiti by allowing them to make their own decisions. Donated money is good. Missions trips are good (when done appropriately). We can still HELP! But we need to do so responsibly.

But first, the cry for relief for over 3 million people ring out. Let us give generously. Let us pray hard. And let us hope for the best.

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… And, I’m Back

Magandang umaga, po! (Good morning). I can not believe that I have been in the Philippines now for over a month. I have truly enjoyed my time here. For the last three weeks (until last Saturday), I lived in Pook and worked to research how FHI’s programs impacted the community. FHI worked in Pook for about 12 years. However, they pulled out of the community 2 years ago. In addition to assisting communities, FHI strives to partner with local churches. The ultimate goal is to prevent the community from coming into a state of dependency on FHI, and instead, empower the church to eventually take over the work. This is why FHI left Pook 2 years ago.
Before leaving, FHI assisted the local church (Pook CRC) in creating a “comprehensive plan” to continue to help the community. With this plan, Pook now has a feeding ministry and educational assistance program to help some of the children eat and go to school. These children meet at the church every week. In addition to getting a good meal, the children are taught lessons from the Bible. Here are a couple pictures of the times I was at the gathering! In the 1st picture, the guy standing on the left and the two girls on the right are friends that I made (around my age) who are involved in helping with the ministry.

Because I was only in the community of Pook for 3 weeks, there are MANY experiences that I had which must not be taken for granted. What I experienced was a result of the local Filipinos’ very warm hospitality. I felt very welcomed, indeed. And I truly enjoyed my experience. I do not have pictures from the interpretive dance, but I hope to obtain some before I leave the country. šŸ™‚ (Some were taken, which I don’t have).

As you may know/remember, the primary reason I came to the Philippines was to evaluate the Microenterprise Development (MED) / Livelihood projects that FHI conducts here. Obviously, in Pook, my research was strictly post-impact based. It is commonly known among researchers that it is very hard to only do effective post-impact research, simply because one of the only things we have to go on is what people tell you (which may or may not be true, and which must always be taken with a grain of salt).

Thus, with the many things that I learned in Pook, I must be careful to not generalize the data. I must critically analyze it, and if possible, I need to obtain the same data from as many sources and using as many different techniques as possible.

In addition to my work, there were a lot of people in the community that I became friends with. Of course, it is in the Filipino culture to be very warm, open and hospitable with foreigners. So this, of course, is one of the reasons why I had such a good experience in Pook.

Here is a picture of the immediate family’s house that I lived in during my stay in Pook (Kuya Dante is wearing the t-shirt that I gave him as a gift).

However, it almost seems like 1/2 of the people of Pook are related to each other. This immediate family is related through Ate Nilda (the wife) to a bigger family. These two families (and Pastor Jerry) are the people that I spent the majority of my time with.
Here’s a couple more pictures of this “clan” and some of the other people I spent a lot of my time with. The 2nd picture is Pastor Jerry with a lot of the people my age. I wanted to get at least 1 picture of Kuya Ding, the father of Ate Nilda and of the family so the third one is of him only!


Well, I am now in Fairview. I arrived on Saturday (Sorry, don’t have any pictures yet!) This week, I feel like I am doing almost a grand total of ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!! Yay (just kidding). The FHI staff is still trying to get things sorted out. While we all know that I’m here to “evaluate their livelihood programs” it doesn’t appear that the local FHI staff has this as their #1 agenda – which is understandable.

Right now, this is actually fine with me. I got very behind in analyzing the data I had collected in Pook, so I am spending time catching up on that. I am also catching up on communicating with the outside world. Until yesterday (Monday), I haven’t had access to internet in over 1 & 1/2 weeks. Lots of people were asking about me, and I at least wanted to get off a belated Happy Father’s Day message to my dad.

Thank you, friends for your continued prayers. I do have a few specific requests.
1) That I would be patient, and wise with, and think through my research VERY critically. This is extremely important, and I’ll admit that I have not done this very well over the past month. The experience of simply being here is quite a lot of think about. Through the assignments that I have turned in, however, I have been forced to think through my research, and I have been reminded of this importance.
2) That I would make the adjustment into city life well. For the past 3 weeks, I lived in Pook, which is rural. But now I am in the (rather polluted) city. This is an adjustment in and of itself. However, I am also building completely new relationships. Please pray for me as I build these new relationships, I would not start comparing my experience in Fairview to that in Pook. Please pray that I would be able to start doing useful research in Fairview, and that while I wait to get started, I would have patience.
(I am actually traveling with FHI staff this Saturday away from Fairview, and will be gone for over a week in the province of Bicel. Maybe when I return, I’ll have things to do!)

What has the Lord taught me, you may be wondering?
In short, I have learned great reliance and peace on him. I have definitely grown in my walk with him, and have learned better what it means to find my satisfaction in him. I have also grown and learned more the importance of loving the people where they are at, for who they are, with all of my heart. I have been reminded that as an American, I do not want to go into a community with a big head on my shoulders. Instead, I want to be humble as I work to partner with the community. I want to avoid having a “superior” attitude.
This means that I MUST learn the culture. What is “humble” or “superior” in America is NOT the same thing in the Philippines. So please pray that I would also be open to the Lord’s leading in this area for the rest of my time here.

Ingat po kayo (take care), and God Bless!

– David

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