Due to their geographic location, Haiti and other Caribbean nations are exposed to frequent or extreme natural hazards such as storms, hurricanes, and earthquakes. Lacking the resources to effectively reduce their risk to such occurrences, disadvantaged communities are particularly ill-prepared to manage their impact. As a result, natural hazards become disasters, resulting in the loss of lives and livelihoods.
MAII not only works to provide emergency relief but also aims to balance such help with a support system for long-term, sustainable initiatives that give practical assistance to vulnerable populations.
Earthquake Relief in Haiti
In terms of the proportion of the country’s population affected, the earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010 was the most destructive disaster ever recorded. The government estimates that 316,000 people died during this catastrophe. Even before the earthquake, Haiti was one of the poorest countries on earth, ranked 149th out of 182 countries by the 2009 Human Development Index. The country’s poverty and weak infrastructure made relief efforts especially challenging after the disaster. Nevertheless, MAII devoted its full capacity to saving people in the aftermath of the quake.
The earthquake’s epicenter was located near the town of Léogâne, about 25 km (16 miles) west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital. Our three (3) mobile clinics rushed to the spot to give medical care to the earthquake victims while our volunteers provided them with warm, cooked meals. We worked tirelessly to help more than 25,000 people who were trapped under rubble or needed other types of assistance in the towns of La Plaine, Léogâne, Croix-des-Bouquets, Carrefour and Delmas. In February 2010, Rev. Lucien Duperier and a team of 15 volunteer physicians, nurses and other medical staff traveled to Haiti to provide additional medical assistance to the people of Haiti.
MAII continues to respond to the earthquake’s aftermath. Now, our efforts are focused largely on equipping youths and adults with the educational tools they need to create a better future for themselves and their communities. Several years later, the rebuilding of Haiti is far from complete. People continue to live in makeshift housing, without proper sanitation. Disputes over land ownership have created legal bottlenecks that prevent reconstruction. Furthermore, the region continues to be pummeled by severe storms that create further damage and prolong restoration.
The Haitian government has been overwhelmed with need following the earthquake. The resources for relief work are far from adequate. Despite generous commitments, only a small percentage of the promised international aid has ever reached Haiti.
The Haitian people are hard-working and determined. Instead of simply relying on outside help and support, they have joined hands with friends and neighbors to rebuild the nation. In many communities, the local people are embarking on reconstruction efforts on their own, with little assistance. The men and women who have been most affected by the disaster are now rotating cement churners and bringing barrels of water to the mixers on construction sites.
MAII is proud to be part of this work. Our founder was born and raised in Haiti, and all of our employees in Haiti are native to the area. We know the community because we are part of it, and we know its needs intimately. As we work to rebuild the physical aspects of our towns, we are proud to see that no force of nature can break the dignity, persistence and neighborly love in the communities we serve.
Ways to Get Involved in Our Disaster Relief Work
- Volunteer as an emergency relief worker.
- Make a generous contribution to our Disaster Fund to help ensure the safety of children and families.
- Help us collect items for our emergency and disaster supply kits in order to better and more quickly respond to emergencies.
Needed Items for Emergency Disaster Kits
- First aid kits
- Medical supplies
- Nonperishable foods
- Sanitation and personal hygiene items
- Sleeping bags
- Battery-powered radios
- Flashlights, candles, matches
- Rain gear
- Clothing and shoes
Please see our Emergency Supplies Checklist for a complete list of items we are seeking.