Sunday marks the 4th anniversary of Haiti’s devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake, destroying its capital of Port-au-Prince and killing more than 200,000 people.
Since that time, hundreds of Oklahomans have joined people around the globe to help the country rebuild through the non-profit organization Mission of Hope (MOH).
MOH served and ministered to the people of Haiti for years before the earthquake hit, so when it did, volunteers were already in place to help.
“There’s about a six-month stretch that’s really hard to remember,” said MOH President Brad Johnson. “It was horrific; hundreds of thousands of people were walking out of the city because they had lost so much.”
MOH is headquartered in Haiti, which enabled volunteers to spring into action when the earthquake hit.
“We had over a million and a half meals in our warehouse that was going to go out the following day to schools, but because the earthquake hit, we were able to distribute as well as our hospital went into 24-hour mode,” said Johnson.
Now, Johnson and his volunteers reflect on the progress they’ve made in the last four years, building more than 400 concrete homes, a church and a school. Using pre-positioned food supplies stored in a 32,000 sq. ft. warehouse, MOH and partner Convoy of Hope deliver more than 400 schools and orphanages each day.
“The people of Haiti are so resilient, they are very grateful,” said Johnson.
Even so, thousands of people remain displaced, living in temporary shelters and tents. According to the Associated Press, the Haitian government delivered a progress report on the eve of the fourth anniversary.
Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe highlighted a drop in the number of people living in settlements. And for those who do, Johnson says his group is here for the long haul to continue helping in any way they can.
“I just feel very blessed to be here today, to be able to have walked with a lot of friends in Haiti through this time,” he said. “It’s hard to believe it’s been four years, because the wounds are still fresh, but there’s so much hope in their eyes.”
MOH wants to build 150 more houses by next year while continuing to help the people of Haiti with both short and long term needs including housing, medical, food and education. The organization is also in the process of building a technical school, athletic complex and hospital.