Disaster Relief Update

Dear Friends,

We wanted to take a few moments and share with you where we are in our disaster relief efforts in Port-au-Prince and how we have been using the resources you’ve helped to supply.  As Pastor Diogene indicated in our update Monday, we have supplied food to approximately 10,000 people since the earthquake in January, and for many of those, this was their primary source of food.  Our family sponsorship ministry – where sponsors have committed to supporting a family for a six-month period while they re-establish their lives – has been going strong for the last two months, with more than 100 families sponsored.  And now we are preparing to help families reconstruct homes lost in the earthquake.

Our approach to this reconstruction will be to support Haitians as they rebuild.  Where some might be inclined to descend on Port-au-Prince and rebuild for them, we believe this kind of supportive partnership is a better course of action.  And our support will come in several ways: 

  1. Financial.  The way we’ve done this in the past (after the 2008 hurricanes) was to pay for materials for one phase of construction at a time, such as the foundation or the walls.  The homeowner provided the labor.  And when that phase was completed and inspected, we financed the next phase.
  2.  Labor assistance in specific, specialized areas.  We brought in a team that installed the metal roofing on several of the homes built in 2008-2009.
  3.  Guidance through the construction process.  Using our Haitian partners, we want to visit and encourage these homeowners regularly while ensuring proper construction.

Pastor Diogene has suggested that we reevaluate some of the outdated construction methods used on many Haitian homes.  We agree with him that, while we want to use familiar and available materials (concrete blocks, metal roofing, etc.), there are techniques that will streamline construction and produce a better, more solid home.  These range from small changes in the mortar that will increase its strength to better methods for tying together walls.  Our goal is to keep things “Haitian” while being good stewards of the resources we’ve been given and producing well-built homes that will last for many years.  So Glenn and Doug, along with our Haitian construction partners, are in the process of evaluating building methods right now.  Pray for wisdom for them as they consider these things.

As always, thank you for the part you play in supporting our Haitian brothers and sisters, especially during these difficult times for them.

Serving our Lord together,

Bernie, Sheryl & Philip Bovenkamp