Selling produce on the streets
A woman cooks to earn a living
Mrs. Vogly and her children set up shop outside their home
Haitian artists displaying their skill and crafts
Beginning the day with prayer is important
Meeting regularly for worship
Many people are still living in tents
Kihomi sits with Dieulita who nearly died in the earthquake
Nzunga and Kihomi (left) and missionary in Brazil, Ann Borquist (right) stand with a happy paient heading home
Nzunga Mabudiga and Kihomi Ngwemi are from the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are International Ministries American Baptist missionaries serving in Haiti. Nzunga teaches theology at the Christian University of Northern Haiti. Kihomi counsels on family planning and women’s health.
From your perspective in Haiti, how do things seem to be going?
Haiti will not be defeated by circumstances. The people have learned to survive. The situation in Haiti has calmed since the earthquake last January. The whole country may not look as if much progress has been made, but in individual and family lives there have been many changes. Many people have readjusted their way of living and learned to cope their life as it is now. Many families have reorganized without their loved one(s). People have found jobs or created their own small survival business.
Can you share a story of how people are adjusting?
For example two artists were brought north to Limbe by a friend who could not then take care of them. She is a member of the Haitian Baptist Women. She found these two artists on the street crying and without a word gave them 500 gourdes ($10). The next day she saw them on the street selling a type of Haitian donut. When she asked the artists how they were able to do that, they said they used the money she’d given them to buy what they needed to make the donuts. The woman asked the artists about who they were and they told her that they were the victims of the earthquake from Port-au-Prince.
Their creative idea for how to use the money the money, gave our friend the idea that these two artists wanted to leave Limbe and go home. She followed them around as they sold donuts and she asked them about their lives before the earthquake. That’s when she discovered they were artists. This fine lady proceeded to find them a room to live. She gave them a bed, some chairs, a couple of plates and food to start with. The next month, she bought them some art supplies. Her hope is that they will now be able to sell their wares and take care of themselves.
Has the earthquake caused people to turn toward God or away from Him?
During worship many people talk about turning to God. There seems to be a new awareness in Haiti of God's power and love by both Christians and non-Christians. The Haitian people are very religious and the earthquake pushed people toward God, not away from Him. One woman who had lost her husband was encouraging others saying, “Don't let what happened to us stop us from serving the Lord. We have to keep our faith and become even stronger then before.” The morning worship service was filled with testimony and grief sharing. For these women crying together was part of a healing process.
Tell us about your role in the earthquake recovery and cholera epidemic.
Through our ministry scholarships are provided to children who have lost their families and financial assistance is given to families who have lost their worldly possessions and home. We also work to supply personal items including clothing bedding, household goods and especially medicines to both earthquake and cholera victims. We both do family and individual counseling.
I, Nzunga have been able to help establish ten water purification sites. Kihomi is more involved in education and prevention of cholera. Our prayer is that people will continue to use the new habits of cleanliness henceforth. The Eye Clinic in Cap Haitien now has a place for hand washing right outside the entrance.
How have you personally been impacted by the earthquake? How has it changed you?
I, Kihomi have been humbled by the courage of people during these disastrous times. Some women I talked to, told me that although loved ones have been lost, they decided to not just sit and cry, but to do what they can to help the rest of family members who are still living. That's why some women from Port-au-Prince who received some financial assistance are on the streets selling anything they can to feed their families.
How has your own ministry changed as a result of the earthquake?
My ministry (Kihomi) has changed with increased counseling for grief and increased visitation. Many people are reluctant to talk about their pain. It takes time and multiple visits before grief counseling can begin. With cholera there has been an increased need for clothing and health education within churches and other places.
For me (Nzunga) my ministry has changed too. I find myself with even more compassion. There is more need to help and care for orphans. Seeing the will of the Haitian people to live on has strengthened my faith also.
What can people be praying about as relief efforts continue?
· Pray that children will be able to continue going to school. Many cannot go now because all their family’s resources are being spent on food and survival.
· Pray for peace in Haiti, that good leaders will come to office concerned about all of the people.
· Pray that people will continue to use preventive practices and education about cholera as a way of life, not just during this crisis.
· Pray for emotional and spiritual strength for both Nzunga and Kihomi personally.
Are there opportunities for people to come down and help?
Yes. We need volunteers. Medical personnel at the Eye Clinic in Cap Haitien and construction volunteers at the Haitian Baptist Convention Hospital in Quartier Morin in North Haiti.