Hurricane Matthew: stories of survival

Hurricane Matthew, Haiti October 2016


If you had been walking the streets of Haiti in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, you might have heard this common phrase spoken among survivors.

It means, “We are here. We survive.

Ephraim Lindor, a Compassion Haiti Senior Tour and Visits Specialist, shares about the strength the Haitian people have developed:

“To survive in Haiti, you must be resilient. We have no choice.”

Compassion photographer Ryan Johnson who took the photos in this post shares, “Even in times of disaster, in somber and serious moments, you can still find laughter and joking. It’s one of those quintessential human qualities: the ability to laugh in the face of tragedy. When people ask what it’s like to tell stories in disaster zones, I often think about these moments. Giggling children running over debris, teenagers laughing at jokes in the shade of destroyed churches. It’s the funny, life-giving humanity we all share in dark times. The reality is that we are resilient. Haitians are resilient. We survive. We laugh. We go on.”

Stories of Hurricane Matthew survival

Hurricane Matthew, Haiti October 2016

“Wake up! Wake up!” Tamy peered through the darkness to find her grandmother frantically wrapping her arms around her. The thrashing of the hurricane surrounded them as they fled to the safety of their neighbour’s concrete home. Tamy now stands in front of what used to be her grandmother’s kitchen. An uprooted tree lies as shade for her dishes.

Hurricane Matthew, Haiti October 2016

Angeline’s degenerative bone disease kept her from walking the night Hurricane Matthew hit. Fear struck her as she heard the wind and rain crash against her home. “I thought it was the end of the world,” she quietly shared.

In that moment, she asked God what she was going to do. Due to the pain in her legs, her sister helped her get to the safety of her neighbour’s home. Her home is gone, but her family is safe. Angeline’s family received a disaster kit with food, water and hygiene supplies from Compassion. The Baptist Church of Picot will continue to help the family with counselling.

Hurricane Matthew, Haiti October 2016

The water raged through Cassandra’s community, raising water levels up to six feet high and forcing her family to flee to their rooftop. As she washes the clothes salvaged from the storm, she shares that she and her family were  stranded on the roof for two days.

Hurricane Matthew, Haiti October 2016

When the storm came, this family of seven hid under their table praying it would protect them. The house eventually collapsed under the weight of the hurricane. It left them trapped and injured. The father pushed on the door until it finally released. When asked about their home, the mother responded, “We don’t have any alternative.” She later shared that God gives them hope and because of that they are surviving.

Hurricane Matthew Recovery Efforts

Compassion Haiti continues to address the immediate relief needs of Compassion beneficiaries and their families. Our leadership team are meeting with church partners to encourage them and discuss the most effective ways to address ongoing needs such as food, shelter and reopening schools.
Hurricane Matthew, Haiti October 2016

Our field staff continues to assess the damage to our church partners and the people they care for. At this point, 99 church partners’ structures were severely damaged, and 98 have had to temporarily close. 12,691 children in our programs have been affected. (Reported as of 10/27/2016.)  Tragically, we know that Hurricane Matthew has taken the lives of three Compassion-assisted children, 34 caregivers and six siblings in Haiti.

Our hearts grieve at the loss of these precious lives. Thankfully, our church partners and staff are there for support and guidance for the survivors through this devastating tragedy.

If the child you sponsor has been affected, we will be sure to notify you as soon as we have information.

Hurricane Matthew, Haiti October 2016

Haiti staff members are distributing supplies such as food, water and hygiene kits. They’re also collecting clothing and other goods to distribute to areas where the needs are overwhelming.

Our field office is working with church partners to find the best alternatives  now that their buildings are destroyed. Despite all the challenges, churches are exploring ways to resume activities, so they can assist children with psychological recovery and continue their schooling. Non-affected churches have also mobilized to collect school furniture from staff, children and church members to help students get back to school as soon as possible.

Hurricane Matthew, Haiti October 2016

Pastor Jonas Beauzil of De I’Eglise Baptiste de Beraud (HA798) recounts the damage done to his church: “The destruction was terrible, the first time I’ve seen this in my entire life, the first time. As the worst of the storm was leaving, we rushed into the church to salvage what we could. We were up to our knees in water, getting under the limbs of fallen trees, trying to save laptops, our oven, generator, church TV, all the child documents for Compassion.”

Hurricane Matthew, Haiti October 2016

“We have laid out all the children’s documents, trying to dry them. Hopefully we can save them.”

Hurricane Matthew, Haiti October 2016
“School was just about to start. We have everything ready for the children that go to school here — new paint on the walls, school supplies and books ready. The hurricane came Sunday; we were planning on distributing school books to children on Monday but now they are ruined.”

Hurricane Matthew, Haiti October 2016

Our brothers and sisters in Haiti need our support now. Please pray with us so that they may not only continue to survive, but to thrive.

  • Pray for those who mourn the loss of loved ones and their communities.
  • Pray for these communities as they seek to recover physically and emotionally from another natural disaster.
  • Pray for our Haiti staff and church partner leadership as they work both on recovering themselves and helping others.
  • Pray that the relief and rebuilding efforts can be swift and effective.

The financial need for rebuilding and recovery is great. When you contribute to the Hurricane Matthew Relief fund in Haiti, your generosity helps provide temporary shelter, food, medical assistance, clean water and provides funds for restoration and recovery.

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Written by: Compassion Canada