Thousands of Americans are waiting to hear an update on whether the children they sponsor in Haiti were affected by the massive earthquake.
"I am praying and waiting to hear if my child's family was affected or not. She lives in St. Marc," Dawn Higley commented on the Compassion International website.
Compassion International, a Christian child advocacy ministry, is currently in the tedious process of locating all of their children and providing each sponsor with a complete picture of how each person has or has not been affected by the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck the Caribbean island last month.
"The task at hand is monumental as records are lost and many families have left the city for the countryside," Stephan Archer, U.S. Communications Specialist for Compassion, said in an e-mail to The Christian Post.
Compassion sponsors more than 64,000 children in Haiti, the majority of whom were sponsored by Americans. Since the devastation, which killed more than 200,000 people, the ministry's customer service call center and Facebook page have been flooded with calls, emails and notes expressing concern about their sponsored children.
"I have sponsored Linsa in Haiti for nearly 9 years. I am anxiously waiting for news about her status following the earthquake," commented sponsor Nancy Sue Harris Ballengee. "It amazes me how connected I feel to a young girl that I know only through a few photos and letters exchanged. As I pray for her safety, I am always reminded to pray for all those living and assisting there. Thank you Compassion for enlarging my vision."
Another sponsor, Sally, wrote, "I'm waiting to hear about my Jephete too. He and his family were in the Port Au Prince area. I hope they are safe – they've survived the hurricanes last summer and now this."
The process of gathering information on each child and his or her family is slow as communication and transportation on the ground remain difficult and as the Compassion staff in Haiti verify that the information they collect is correct.
So far, the international ministry has released a list of all the child development centers in Haiti, categorizing each as: not directly affected, moderately affected or significantly affected by the earthquake.
As Compassion focuses its energy on accounting for and caring for children enrolled in sponsorship programs, Archer recognizes that some of the children may have become orphaned as a result of the earthquake. In that case, he said the ministry will work with local church partners to provide support to relatives and/or church members to help care for the children.
Compassion's relief efforts in Haiti also include providing relief supplies, rebuilding homes, and restoring church facilities and normalcy to child development centers.