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On October 4, 2016 Hurricane Matthew made landfall in Haiti as the strongest storm to hit the island in the last half-century and the third strongest on record. The storm devastated much of southern Haiti, washing away homes, crops, roads, and taking many lives.
While most of the work of Haiti Orphan Foundation is around central Haiti (Port-au-Prince & Croix-des-Bouquets), we are connected to southern Haiti through the ministry of Pastor Lesly Bertrand. Pastor Lesly oversees nineteen churches across Haiti. (He personally started five of them, and the others have come to him for leadership and support). Two of his churches are located in Saint-Jean, a town near the larger seaport city of Les Cayes, an area that was severely affected by the direct hit of Hurricane Matthew. On our recent trip to Haiti Tripp Atkinson and Bruce Cope made the difficult five-hour trip from Croix-des-Bouquets to Saint-Jean with Pastor Lesly to survey the damage and deliver aid to the community.
The further south we drove, the more devastation we saw. Nearly two months since the hurricane, there were still downed power lines everywhere, washed out bridges, downed trees, and destroyed
homes. When we arrived in Saint-Jean, we met Pastor Mario who had his church destroyed and the roof blown off of his home in the storm. Pastor Lesly made it a top priority to put a tin roof on Mario’s house, as he and his wife are caring for a new baby. Rebuilding the church building for this 160-member congregation will require a much greater effort and resources.
Up the rough terrain a few miles from Pastor Mario’s church we met Pastor Ovner, who ministers to a beautiful hilltop community of a few hundred people. Pastor Ovner not only lost his current church building in the hurricane but also the partial construction of their new larger church building. His congregation has constructed a make-shift hut under which about 120 gather on Sundays to worship.
While the loss of church buildings is certainly heart-breaking, they are certainly not the most difficult tragedies from the storm. Pastors Mario and Ovner lost six church members in Hurricane Matthew. Most of them drowned when the storm surge covered their houses. While mourning the loss of loved ones, this community is struggling to survive. The storm washed away their crops, which not only fed their families, but also were a source of income at the local market. The many coconut trees that were blown over will take as long as ten years to replace. Other crops will take several months. Very little aid has reached this community, and starvation is a reality to the people. Pastor Lesly informed us that 127 people in the region have died of starvation since the hurricane.
While we want to do so much more, it was such a blessing to deliver a monetary gift from Sugar Hill Church to Pastors Mario and Ovner. I’m told that the gift will ensure at least one meal a day for the next two months for those in these churches who are starving. That will allow some time for crops to be planted in the area. Pastor Lesly delivered a bag of seed that the people hope to get in the ground soon.
While we were there, Dr. Bruce offered a medical clinic for those in the area that needed to see a doctor. Among those seen was a baby that survived being born during the hurricane. Nearly all the medicine that was bought or donated to us was given out that day to this hurting community.
Going forward, we want to do more to help this hurting community. A big immediate need is for seed to plant new crops. Only limited seed can be purchased there, and Pastor Lesly has requested okra, watermelon, red pepper, green pepper, and yellow pepper seeds. These can be used to feed the community and will sell well in the market in Les Cayes.
In Pastor Mario’s destroyed church we found a Bible lying among the ruins, opened to Psalm 138 which reads, “As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength.” Thank you to those who have sent strength & encouragement to those hurting in Haiti! Please continue to remember these pastors and this sweet community in prayer as they rely on God’s strength in these tough days.
Haiti Orphan Foundation exists to bring hope and provision to children in Haiti through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The vision of HOF is to raise young leaders in Haiti who love Jesus and are equipped to bring lasting change in a country that desperately needs hope.
HOF is a small grassroots organization just trying to make a difference in a place of great need. We have been called by God to proclaim and share His grace and love.
Our operating / business model is simple:
- We connect loving sponsors with Haitian children in need at the Grace Children’s home.
100% of sponsorships go directly to costs related to meeting the food, shelter, medical, education and spiritual growth needs of that child.
- All other costs, including Grace Children’s Home Staff, transportation, and any other ancillary cost incurred at the home is paid by non-sponsorship contributions and the Founders/Boardmembers of HOF.
We invite you to join us in making a difference!
How to Help…
Sponsorships make it possible for these boys to live and grow at the Grace Children’s Home. In addition to meeting human, educational and spiritual needs, sponsoring a child gives your family the opportunity to build a relationship with that child.
Contributions help pay staff salaries at GCH as well as operational expenses. Gifts also enable HOF to do outreach projects that strengthen the community by feeding families in need, providing access to vital resources such as water and health care, sharing the gospel of Jesus, and more.
For more information on how to sponsor a child or make a contribution to the work of Haiti Orphan Foundation, please click here.
It is with great sadness that we inform you that Junot Cochilus, Co-founder of HOF and dear friend, has passed away.
Junot, a Haitian-American, served in the US Army and was finishing a tour in Afghanistan. On May 2nd, Spc. Junot Cochilus (along with Lt. David Rylander) died in Logar province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when insurgents attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device. Junot was assigned to the 7th Engineer Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.
If you did not know Junot, let me share a little about the incredible man who helped make Haiti Orphan Foundation possible…
I first met Junot one week after the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010. He was one of an eight man team who traveled to Haiti as a relief team. After working shoulder to shoulder with the man in the ravaged and desperate tent cities of Port au Prince, Haiti I came to know a remarkable man. One truly felt blessed after having met Junot Cochilus. He was a Haitian American soldier, an endearing friend to many, husband, father, big brother ( to those blood related or not ), philanthropist / genuine giver, strong advocate for kids but most of all a devout servant to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Junot was the spark behind the formation of the Haiti Orphan Foundation. A non-profit organization dedicated to the humanitarian, financial, educational and spiritual well being of vulnerable children of Haiti. After the earthquake we all shared Junot’s love for his native country and felt a devine calling to do more. For if it weren’t for Junot’s connections, love for children and passion to dream big, HOF would have never been formed. We owe so much to him and his vision God gave him.
I have seen Junot’s heart reach all walks of life. From the pagan voodoo doctor he ministered and showed love for, to the desperate and homeless, to the orphaned and ill children, to strangers needing money or a shoulder to cry on, Junot was there. I will miss my friend. I will miss him very much. I am only sad for myself however; for I know my brother is home. Thanks for listening. We should thank all of those who fight for our freedom. To me they all are our heroes. May we celebrate them all.