The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta and its members are praying for those who lost their lives and livelihoods in Haiti following the 7.2 earthquake that killed more than 2,200, injured more than 12,000 and destroyed nearly 53,000 homes.
The Right Reverend Robert C. Wright, Bishop of the diocese, issued the following message in response to the devastation.
“Our hearts break for our brothers and sisters in Haiti. So many of us have visited Haiti and been blessed by her faith and resilience. We pray God‘s grace and mercy on her now as she faces the tremendous trials of another earthquake and continued political upheaval. May God have mercy on the nation and people of Haiti.”
Many Georgia Episcopalians have long standing personal and ministry relationships with the people of Haiti.
Terry Franzen, founder of an Episcopal medical ministry in Haiti, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution she awoke Sunday to pictures and messages of the devastation. Franzen said the nonprofit, Haiti Companions, was still able to operate its clinics in areas close to the quake that did not suffer damage and the group’s country director was tending to those injured when buildings collapsed. Franzen said she expects torrential rains forecast for this week will prolong rescue operations.
Light from Light doctor Tram Jones and wife Hannah recently left Haiti when violence erupted following the assassination of the country’s president. The Joneses, who work for the nonprofit that sprouted from an Episcopal mission in Haiti, plan to return following the devastation. Tram Jones told the AJC that limited medical supplies and the ongoing unrest will complicate providing aid to the rural areas most damaged by the earthquake.
Episcopal Christ Church in Macon began Haitian Hope in 2006. The nonprofit operates a school that they rebuilt following the 2010 earthquake. The ministry partners with St Francis Episcopal in Macon and Episcopal Church of the Holy Family in Jasper, Georgia to support the secondary school. Churches in the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia also work with Haitian Hope to support a trade school that provides teens with trade skills such as sewing, cooking and computers.
Haiti, the most populous of The Episcopal Church’s 109 dioceses, is still recovering from a massive earthquake in 2010, that killed more than 300,000 people, seriously injured more than 250,000, and left 1.3 million homeless.
Support Episcopal Haitian Ministries
The medical director of Haiti Companions, Dr. Frantz Codio, is also the administrator of Hospital Lumiere in the Les Cayes area along the coast. The hospital building was damaged, but staff are working to treat the injured. Haiti Companions expects to pay its staff to assist at Hospital Lumiere when they are able to travel to the area. Terry Franzen, a member of Holy Family in Jasper, is the founder of Haiti Companions. Information about how to donate to Haiti Companions is at haiticompanions.org
Bishop Tharp Institute
According to reports from Episcopal News Service, several buildings at the Bishop Tharp Business and Technology Institute in Les Cayes were damaged and will need to be demolished. Some from the Diocese of Atlanta have visited BTI in the past and still know people there. A medical team from Hôpital Ste-Croix in Leogane is working from the grounds at Bishop Tharp Institute to treat the injured. People who lost homes are sheltering on the school grounds.
Several congregations in the Diocese support this partnership with a school in Trouin, in the mountains of Haiti. While the area was not immediately affected by the earthquake, the disaster is likely to affect food supply and medical care throughout the country. Donations to Haitian Hope, Inc may be sent to P. O. Box 7326, Macon, GA 31209. You can also donate here.
Episcopal Relief and Development
Episcopal Relief & Development has a constant presence in Haiti and has trained local community health workers to respond to ongoing medical needs as well as disasters. They work with many local partners, including the Diocese of Haiti, Bishop Tharp Institute, schools, hospitals, and congregations. They are also providing financial assistance to people in remote areas not reached by other organizations. Donations to the Haiti Fund will be used for emergency assistance and long-term recovery.
On the Occasion of a Disaster
Compassionate God… Draw near to us in this time of sorrow and anguish, comfort those who mourn, strengthen those who are weary, encourage those in despair, and lead us all to fullness of life; through the same Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen
— Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints (Church Publishing: New York), page 733