Hurricane Matthew and Maison de Naissance
When a relief team of three set out for Maison de Naissance after Hurricane Matthew, (Jim Grant, Executive Director; Dr. Abbey Masonbrink, board member; and Andy Smith, Solar Power Engineer), they had no idea how complete and overwhelming the destruction would be. Hurricane Matthew was classified as a category 4 storm, just shy of category 5, the worst possible in modern meteorological terms. After witnessing the destruction first hand, our team could not reconcile the near complete devastation of an entire region with that single digit number. Amazingly, in typical Haitian fashion, it seemed everyone had picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and gotten on with the business of living. Farmers were working in their fields, women were doing laundry and hauling water, and children going to school. Families had strung tarps, sheets, and blankets over the ruins of their homes and were picking up the pieces of their lives that could be salvaged.
When our team arrived at Maison de Naissance, they were dismayed by the destruction. Every one of the tall, beautiful trees on the property had been blown down, with
the result that the power and water were off, and every building on the campus had sustained moderate to severe damage. (Photo right)
The good news was that no one at Maison de Naissance or in the local community lost their life or suffered serious injury, and
the 48 panel solar array on the roof was incredibly intact and unscathed.
The Sunday following our return home from the first relief trip (10/23), during an interview on radio station KKFI, two Haitian guests in the studio were debating the “real tragedy” of Hurricane Matthew – the massive loss of crops, viable cropland (contaminated with salt following a 10-12 foot tidal surge and salt rain swept up by the hurricane winds), and livestock. They felt that the coming year’s lack of agricultural produce and resources should be the primary focus. Suddenly, Daphnee Boncoeur, a translator from Torbeck who was on the line for the interview, interjected, “But we are starving NOW!”
For most Haitians who were victims of the hurricane, that summed up the situation. They are still rebuilding homes, replacing lost crops, livestock, and personal effects. Our foundation was compelled to launch its first ever disaster relief program, providing food, water, and shelter to as many as we could from October through January – just enough to get families back on their feet. We could not be more proud of our staff for the extra effort they put into this, while carrying on with the normal day to day operations. We could not be more thankful for the donors who made that effort possible, either.
We are very glad to report that, as of the completion of the fourth relief and recovery visit in mid-January, the center is back to 100% operability, and functioning at peak efficiency again, with thanks to you, our donors and supporters. Efforts to restore housing in the community are ongoing, with a sense of hope now instead of futility. Day by day, progress is measured by the smiles we see on the faces of the patients, and the happy results – healthy mothers and healthy babies!
Many lessons were learned, and we, as an organization and a community in Haiti are stronger for it, knowing we can face adversity with hope and confidence.
Jim Grant, Executive Director
Global Birthing Home Foundation