In late October, Hurricane Sandy barreled through the Caribbean Sea and up the eastern seaboard leaving a path of destruction. In roughly 10 days she caused damage to countries in the Caribbean, including Haiti, most of the eastern United States and finally dissipating up the Canadian coast.
But for us at Heifer, Hurricane Sandy’s destruction hit close to home. Haiti was one of the hardest hit countries in the Caribbean with large losses, including homes, livestock and agriculture. Project participants working with Heifer Haiti have a new set of challenges before them. In addition, Heifer’s Washington, D.C. office, and Overlook Farm learning center, in Massachusetts, were closed.
And while Haiti is dealing with the aftermath from the storm, Heifer Haiti staff gave us a silver lining when they informed us that homes we help to build as part of a previous project had withstood the storm.
The good news didn’t surprise me; it confirmed that Heifer’s work addresses the needs of project participants. Heifer is not a relief organization, but rather we work with families and individuals through long-term development to support their efforts of building sustainability for themselves and in their communities. We cannot predict disasters but we can prepare people for the aftermath. When individuals have the tools and the capacity, they can—and will—overcome the challenges from Mother Nature.
This is Heifer’s sustainable approach to ending hunger and poverty—one family, one animal at a time. It’s not temporary relief. It’s not a handout. It’s securing a future with generations of people who have hope, health and dignity.
Earlier this year I visited Haiti and experienced the vibrancy, passion, and drive of the communities involved in Heifer Haiti’s Rural Entrepreneurs for Agricultural Cooperation in Haiti (REACH) project. The effects of Hurricane Sandy will not deter them. Their desire to bring change to their communities motivates them. You can encourage their efforts by providing support to Heifer’s Disaster Rehabilitation Fund.