By Erich Bridges, Baptist Press
ROCKVILLE, Va. (BP)—Southern Baptist workers anticipate spending at least $2 million on relief and rebuilding projects in earthquake-ravaged Haiti over the coming months, International Mission Board (IMB) trustees were told during their Jan. 18-19 meeting in Rockville, Va.
A joint disaster assessment team is in Haiti, comprised of personnel from the IMB, North American Mission Board, Baptist Global Response and Florida Baptist Convention, which has longtime ministry ties to Haiti.
“We’ve already released an initial $150,000, but anticipate over the coming months appropriating at least $2 million for projects in Haiti,” Scott Holste, associate vice president for global strategy, told trustees meeting at the IMB’s International Learning Center.
“Establishing supply lines for water, food and temporary housing will be an integral part of our response. Anticipated needs over the coming months will include cleanup, distribution of food, temporary and permanent construction projects, counseling and medical care.”
As relief projects get under way, Southern Baptist volunteers will be recruited to work alongside Haitian Baptists and others, Holste said. Longer-term education and microenterprise efforts also are being planned to help Haitians get back to work.
Recovery will take years for the impoverished Caribbean nation, where authorities estimate as many as 200,000 people died as a result of the Jan. 12 quake. Hundreds of thousands more have suffered injuries, lost their homes and lack food, water and medicine. Many thousands of homeless and hungry Haitians are streaming out of the shattered capital, Port-au-Prince, in search of food and shelter.
“Southern Baptists are a people who care,” Holste said. “They want to be personally involved in the lives of those affected by this disaster.”
Churches and individuals already have given nearly $500,000 to Haiti relief via IMB funding channels. Money can be donated online at imb.org/haitifund.
“Because of Southern Baptist giving to the Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, 100 percent of any money that’s given to disaster relief in Haiti will be used to address the needs of people” rather than paying for administrative costs, Holste added. Cooperative Program giving and Lottie Moon offering funds pay for the ongoing support of the IMB’s mission workers who are part of the SBC’s relief efforts, he said.