International Christian aid agency World Vision is encouraging Americans this month to especially pray for the critical needs of children in Haiti.
The agency proclaimed February to be the month of prayer for Haiti's children, who are susceptible to diseases, infection and exploitation in addition to homelessness and hunger in the aftermath of last month's devastating earthquake.
"We are especially concerned about children's needs and vulnerabilities in this disaster," said Steve Haas, World Vision's vice president for church relations. "We know it is going to be a marathon – and not a sprint – to help them and their families recover and rebuild their lives."
On Jan. 12, a 7.0-magnitude quake struck Haiti, devastating its capital Port-au-Prince and leaving at least 150,000 people dead and 1.5 million homeless. Though aid has been pouring into the island nation, the support is not enough because the country –the poorest in the Western hemisphere – lacks the infrastructure to deal with such a calamity.
So while Haas complimented Americans for their generosity and support of his agency's response, he asked that churches and individuals also remember to pray for Haiti's children "as we move into the second month of this urgent and critical response effort."
For the month of February, World Vision has offered the following weekly prayer points for Haiti's children:
• Mondays: Food and water. Many children were already malnourished before the earthquake and further malnutrition can do permanent damage to their physical and brain development.
Pray that deliveries of food and water reach children, that secure distribution channels be established for the ongoing relief effort, and for sustainable clean water and agriculture projects to flourish.
• Tuesdays: Injury recovery and health. Children are particularly vulnerable to diarrheal diseases and respiratory infections after disasters. Many children will also require ongoing health services to recover from injuries.
Pray for medical supplies and health care to reach these children.
• Wednesdays: Homelessness. Children have no safe place to take refuge without homes or schools.
Pray for homeless children to find temporary shelter and for homes to be re-established.
• Thursdays: Families' livelihood. Many families have lost their jobs, small businesses and other means of income because of the earthquake.
Pray for struggling families: that they may find and develop new sources of income to provide for their children.
• Fridays: Children's voice heard in recovery. Families, teachers and officials can create forums where children can share their concerns and learn about their rights.
Pray that communities will foster this and that leaders will listen to children's needs and work with them towards developing solutions.
• Saturdays: Comfort and healing. The horror of surviving a disaster, seeing bodies in the streets, lacking basic necessities and – for some – being separated from parents, takes more than a physical toll.
Pray for the emotional and psychological restoration of children affected by this disaster.
• Sundays: Safety and protection. Children without adult caregivers become vulnerable to abuse, neglect and exploitation – especially following disasters.
Pray for the reuniting of children with their families, the proper care for orphans, and for the protection of children from harm.
As a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to tackle the causes of poverty and injustice, World Vision works in nearly 100 countries and was among the first groups to respond to the Jan.1.12 disaster.
Less than 24 hours after the quake struck, the agency was already distributing relief supplies. The organization is continuing to distribute food and supplies, as well as support medical efforts and encouraging the protection of children after the disaster.