Partnering with Haiti: Redeemer Plays Role in International Effort
5 min. read
February 12, 2010

Just as Images was being prepared for print, word came of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. In the 2009-10 academic year, there are no Haitian nationals among Redeemer’s student body. However, the tragedy has deeply affected many in the Redeemer community, including a number of alumni. Many relatives of Louis and Cassandra Dauphin (alumni who are brother and sister) live in Haiti. Three days after the quake, Louis forwarded the following email to Dr. David Koyzis: “Thank you for your concern and your prayers. It’s been a difficult time for the family as we have been making and receiving phone calls over the past 50 hours. So far, we have 10 family members who have died and we’re still awaiting news on many more. Just in the past hour, we have received news of two family members and one very close friend of the family among the list of casualties… I thank you, once again, for your prayers.” Deborah Campbell Baker ’99 works at the Baptist Haiti Mission (BHM) in Fermathe, Haiti, which is just south of the devastated capital Port-au-Prince. She, her husband Kyrk and their four children all survived the quake. Deborah posted the following on her blogspot — – the day after the quake: “It was probably one of the most scary things I have ever lived through. I have never seen buildings and vehicles move that much. Kyrk and I were actually outside talking with some people when it hit. I immediately ran home while it was still shaking to make sure that our youngest, Robert, was okay. The aftershocks were quite strong and the kids were very shook up. The last aftershock that we felt was early this morning, so hopefully they are over. Here at the mission, part of our conference centre collapsed. Thankfully there was not much other large damage to buildings. The damage is huge around us and it is hard to know where to start. Port-au-Prince is a disaster. I’m sure as the day goes on we will have more reports. Thank you so much for your prayers. We need wisdom to know where to start.” As in previous years, Dr. Dirk Windhorst and Dr. Steve Sider have spent a number of weeks in Haiti this past year working with Christian school educators, mostly at the same Baptist Haiti Mission where Campbell and her family are located. The training that they offer — the Haiti Christian School Leadership Certificate Program, provides an opportunity for up to 400 Haitian administrators to receive training in school leadership and management. We are still hearing of school principals who are just being reached because of being located in rural, difficult to access, areas. Many have lost their houses, churches, and schools. One principal indicated that he reached his house to find that his wife and children had been killed in the collapsed building. We are also hearing amazing stories of rescue and of God’s provision. Already we are beginning to talk with principals about how we may support their efforts to rebuild the physical structures of their schools as well as the support systems they will require. Stacia Vong-Hogeterp ’95 is a Senior Team Leader for World Vision Canada and was on the ground shortly within a week of the quake. This is what she saw when she arrived: “My colleagues and I have been working tirelessly since the hour of the quake both on the ground in Port-au-Prince and from around the globe. I accompanied a charter flight donated by Westjet, filled with donated medical supplies, to Port-au-Prince on January 19. Other passengers included delegates from the Department of Foreign Affairs, CBC and CTV who filmed the trip. The airport was in a state of controlled chaos, buzzing with military troops and planes, non-governmental organizations, UN agencies, media hub, all sorts of aircraft trucks and supplies and a sea of homeless Haitians waiting to board a US military plane to America. I hit the ground running that Tuesday morning, loading and unloading medical supplies and coordinating logistics in the sweltering heat of 34+ degrees.” Unfortunately for Stacia, her time in Haiti was cut short when she was injured in the 6.1 aftershock that shook the island the day she arrived. She was flown out of the country the next day and is now resting at home. Her experience is a reminder that Haiti is still a dangerous place. For many, the sheer scale of the devastation is overwhelming, and leaves them wondering what can be done. In his weekly devotional, Chaplain Syd Hielema called on students, faculty and staff to be a part, no matter how small, of the relief effort: “We Christians are called to “seek first the kingdom,” and kingdom-seeking requires us to abandon our bubbles, immerse ourselves in the brokenness of this world and live as instruments of God’s grace within this immense breakage in any way that we can. We are called to be a body contagious with shalom, God’s great healing grace and peace.” And that impossible calling leads to this simple prayer: “Lord, you call us to be bearers of your goodness in a thoroughly messed-up world, giving us a task far too great for us to carry out and even understand, but in your strength we joyfully take it on. Open our eyes to see whom we might partner with in seeking first your kingdom.” The news from Haiti makes crystal clear just how important such partnerships are. At Redeemer, there have been several fundraising efforts in the days after the quake: the Social Justice team raised about $350 (for Baptist Haiti Mission); the Church In The Box offering raised $1707 (for Baptist Haiti Mission); the collection at the Stephen Lewis lecture raised about $2035 (for CRWRC and World Vision); the collection taken at the Battle of the Bands raised $1320 (for World Vision). The Future Teacher’s Association hosted a Spaghetti Dinner that raised about $5000 (for Haiti Baptist Mission and Love Haiti Mission). Dr. Sider represented Redeemer at a media telethon for Haiti relief on local TV stations CHCH and Cable 14 on January 26. Those funds will go to support two hospitals – each with long relationships with Hamilton hospitals — that have been devastated. Please continue to pray for all those who have been impacted by this tragedy.

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