haiti_relief_web.jpgMIAMI — The city of Miami and a relief agency have teamed up to provide assistance to people suffering from flood damage and a lack of food in Haiti.

City officials and leaders of World Vision, an international relief agency, held a fundraising reception at the Doubletree Grand Hotel in Miami on Oct. 30 to raise funds for and bring relief to the hurricane-ravaged Caribbean nation.

The fundraiser brought in approximately $65,000, and attendees celebrated the recently announced partnership, which seeks to bring long-term relief to Haiti.

“If organizations like World Vision…don’t provide food and relief to these families, there is going to be total disaster,’’ said Lisa Torres, the area director of World Vision’s South Florida office.

“The situation in the island is still critical, and there is a desperate need for basic necessities as well as partners to help the country rebuild,” Miami Mayor Manny Diaz said in a prepared statement.

Recently, World Vision received a five-year matching grant for food and security from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The grant ensures that every financial donation to World Vision will be multiplied three times through USAID’S Food for Peacetime. For example, a dollar donated to World Vision will net $3 worth of food energy supplements that will be donated to Haiti.

According to Janelle Adderley, assistant to Miami City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones, it was World Vision’s grant from USAID, as well as its reputation and integrity, that helped the commissioner press for the creation of a joint recurring relief effort.

This is not the first time that Miami and World Vision have partnered to provide relief to Haiti. Upon hearing concerns from her constituents in the weeks following the storms earlier this year, Spence-Jones, whose district includes Little Haiti, with a population of 29,000, spearheaded a local food and clothing drive titled “Operation: Hope for Haiti.’’

With the joint effort, an estimated $60,000, along with 50,000 pounds of food and water, were collected and delivered to Haiti. The drive ended in September, but Spence-Jones wanted to continue offering relief to the suffering nation. Her efforts led to the creation of the partnership between the city of Miami and World Vision.

“We're committed to working along with [World Vision] for as long as necessary,’’ Adderley said.  

That is a commitment which, according to Torres, is very important to the future of Haiti.

After the devastation in Haiti after four hurricanes hit the struggling country in August and
September, the situation became dire. The massive flooding left an estimated 800 people dead and approximately $1 billion worth of damage. Now, the storm survivors face a daily struggle for shelter, food and even clean water.

“It’s mind boggling the situation that they're facing,’’ Torres said.

To help the devastated country, World Vision, which has been providing relief to Haiti since 1959, has donated emergency materials including shoes, water, hygiene kits and even cooking utensils.

According to the organization, more than 18,000 have received aid since the hurricanes made landfall.

Haiti, which has been called the poorest country in the western hemisphere, has long relied upon foreign aid – food, materials and fiscal donations – to meet the needs of its citizens, since well before the hurricanes.

“Haiti is finding itself in constant need of relief,’’ Torres said. 

The final goal of World Vision’s aid is to enable local areas to become self-sufficient, according to Torres. So, in addition to providing emergency relief such as food, medicine, shelter materials and clothing, the partnership would also be used to continue to fund projects such as World Vision’s watershed management project.

The project is designed to reduce flood damage, provide access to clean water, and assist farmers in replanting their devastated harvests. 

Donations can be directed toward any of these 19 individual development projects located throughout Haiti 

For more information or to provide donations, please call 1-888-511-6400 or visit www.firstgiving.com/haitirelief.


Photo Courtesy of World Vision. Survivors of Hurricane Ike carry their belongings through the flood waters in Mirebelais, one of the hardest-hit regions in Haiti, on Sept. 8.