As the earthquake rolled through Haiti it damaged many things, but in the midst of it all, the devastation managed to strengthen Orange City’s community as well as Northwestern’s.
In the middle of it all
Nathan Blunck, a 2007 NW alumnus, was in Haiti during the time of the earthquake. He was part of a group helping at All God’s Children Orphanage and a deaf school in Fedja, a small town 26 miles northwest of Port-au-Prince and 40 miles from the epicenter.
After the earthquake had finished, not knowing the extent of the damage, the team gathered around a table with the Haitian translators.
“As the story was being read out loud, you could see the Haitian’s heads sink lower and lower, their hearts breaking a little more with each sentence read,” Blunck said. “To see those with us broken and unsure of what to do next was hard to bear.”
Driving to the embassy in Port-au-Prince, Blunck saw it magnified in terms of the number of people affected and the intensity of the emotion.
“We’re from Iowa; we train for tornadoes, not earthquakes,” Blunck said.
When watching people trying to get help, Blunck saw there were no lines, just mobs of people pushing to be at the front so they could be first.
“We asked a doctor walking through the rooms if he needed anything,” Blunck said. “He couldn’t say ‘yes’ fast enough.”
The team dug for everything they could through the first aid kits they had brought: pain pills, ibuprofen, and hand sanitizer.
Blunck says that this could turn out to be the best thing for Haiti. With the corrupt Haitian government looking out for their needs over the needs of the poeple, this could change things.
“Hopefully the government will be filled with people that want to help,” Blunck said. “The country can find stability and the money can be shared more evenly.”
Connecting to those in need
Having been to Haiti six times over the last eight years, including once for a summer-of-service project through NW, senior Sarah Earleywine has gotten to know the people of Haiti very well.
She started her travels through Lifeline Christian Mission under the direction of Bob and Gretchen DeVoe, who are currently in Haiti and have updated Earleywine almost daily with the state of the county and the efforts of the ministry.
“In Gretchen’s email,” said Earleywine, “she wrote ‘the people are peaceable, and they know we love them and they know God loves them and is taking care of them.’”
The devastation has brought over 160 people to know Christ in Lifeline’s refugee camp alone.
Lifeline was one of the first distributors of Kids Against Hunger, which NW has bagged food for numerous times. Currently the Kids Against Hunger campaign is raising food to help distribute among the children in Lifeline’s camps in Grand Grove, Haiti.
How to help
The churches around the Orange City area are helping with the relief efforts.
Trinity Reformed Church is helping in numerous ways. Besides working with the Kids Against Hunger campaign, the church is sending two groups to Haiti this summer to help with the damage. The church is also helping with United Christians International, a ministry run by NW graduates JeanJean and Kristie Mompremier.
JeanJean, originally from Haiti, and his wife help plant churches, lead devotionals, and work in medical clinics in Haiti.
Trinity also helps with Hands For Haiti, an organization that helps set up medical clinics in rural areas that now house refugees from Port-au-Prince.
“In this situation, what these agencies need most is cash,” Pastor Jon Opgenorth said. “The most precious gift I got was a check from a fourth grader who gave a month’s worth of her paper routhe money to help Haiti.”
Orange City resident Brad Gabel is also helping with the relief efforts. He is collecting hygiene kits for Church World Service.
The organization just sent about 10,000 hygiene kits to Haiti and is looking to replenish its stock for more shipments.
“This is something I’m really passionate about, along with my son and wife,” said Gabel. “It’s kind of a life lesson for us to show our concerns and prayers in a practical way to help Haiti.”
All donations for Church World Service are being taken at Hands Around the World in downtown Orange City.