Compassion Vows Holistic, Long-Term Commitment in Haiti

Survivors of the Haiti earthquake that struck the country almost a year ago have witnessed many disaster relief organizations come and go, but the underlying problems that plagued the nation well before the tragedy still remain.

This is the reason that child development ministry, Compassion International, is committed to walking alongside the lost and damaged children of Haiti, guiding them through the entire recovery process.

"Our program is holistic," said Edouard Lassegue, vice president of the Latin America region at Compassion International, to The Christian Post. "We work with these children for years and we are in it for the long run because we believe in long-term development."

The organization has been present on the grounds in Haiti for over 40 years, partnering with the local church to lay a foundation for the country to address four core needs: physical, spiritual, economical and social.

Compassion teams continue to assist children in earthquake affected areas, providing basic needs such as food, shelter and medical care, while offering one-to-one counseling and teaching basic methods used for maintaining good health and preventing cholera.

Lassegue emphasized that the need is not only to break the cycle of poverty, but also to break the mindset of failure passed down through the generations.

"They grow up with a mindset that says, "I cannot do it, I'm not valuable. I would not be able to succeed, my parents were not able to do it, my grandparents never succeeded," he explained.

"We are teaching them new skills, we are teaching them a new mindset."

In commemoration of the first anniversary of the disaster, Compassion will hold a service at 4:53 pm, the exact time the quake hit, on Jan. 12.

It will be a "time to praise God for His protection for those of us still alive, and also to ask Him for direction in years to come," said Lassegue.

Also taking place on Jan. 12 will be a ceremony dedicated to the initiation of Compassion's groundbreaking reconstruction projects, as well as an artwork exposition by children who survived the disaster. The children express their feelings, fears and hopes through the artwork.

Lassegue described the children of Haiti as the "most resilient in the population" and the "hope for the future" when recalling his visit to a tent city months after the quake.

"There were kids around and before you know it [they] were playing and laughing and making a soccer ball out of an empty plastic bottle."

"While they are quick to suffer they are also the quickest to bounce back," he noted.

The Compassion Latin America leader also highlighted the importance of the church's role in the country that is still struggling with social and political unrest.

"We are also helping them to be in contact with God, so that God can transform them and give them the success He promises if we stay in His Word and are faithful to Him."

Last January, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake devastated the island country of Haiti, killing 250,000 people and displacing nearly two million citizens. One-third of households lost their entire food supply and 60 percent of government, administrative and economic infrastructure in Port-au-Prince was destroyed.

Since mid-October, cholera – an acute intestinal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholera – has claimed more than 3,333 lives. The disease causes severe diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Another 150,000 people are infected by the water-borne disease.

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