Great article on LCMS work in Haiti

I wanted to make sure to point you to this article in World magazine about the work LCMS World Relief and Human Care is doing in Haiti right now:

The LCMS has been in Haiti since the quake, providing for the immediate needs of the survivors: food, water, medical supplies and temporary shelter. They realize, however, that they were not doing enough to help with the sense of hopelessness in the people. After speaking with the Rev. Marky Kessa, president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Haiti, the organization leaders realized that the best way to help rebuild the survivors’ lives was to build permanent houses.

So with the help of the local church, the LCMS initiated its “Building Homes and Hope in Haiti” project by acquiring enough land to build three villages. Because of the confusion within the Haitian government, the group was unable to receive land grants, so the LCMS instead bought the land from its previous owners. The organization plans on building 300 houses, an orphanage, a school, a chapel, and a medical clinic in each of these villages.

In early April, a group of volunteers from Ohio and Missouri went to Haiti to build three model homes—one with a single room, a one-bedroom and a two-bedroom—to give the people in Haiti a chance to see what the houses will look like and to encourage donors at home to support the project.

The building process, which began this week, will take a three-pronged approach. First, local professional contractors will be hired to plan and direct the building, which will also help create jobs for local Haitians. Then there will be a call for volunteers from within the community. Finally, volunteers from the United States will be brought in to help build.

“The local people are really involved in their country and their lives,” Merritt said. “They don’t want mercy organizations coming in and taking over everything, they want a say in what happens, and are more than willing to volunteer and assist.”

I’m really glad that we think about how our dollars are most effectively utilized. I’ve written a bit about relief and recovery efforts. One of the things I learned in my research is that too many religious non-profits focus on providing spiritual tourism experiences for Americans rather than working hard to make sure all efforts maximize help to those in need. This looks different and I’m glad to see that.

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