Making a difference in Haiti, two years after the quake

Millions of Americans in thousands of congregations are concerned about the continuing humanitarian crisis in Haiti. Many volunteers continue to fly south to help on the ground. Our report on Haiti’s recovery at the two-year anniversary of the earthquake contained links to other helpful stories and resources. If you turn to that report, please note the links to our coverage of Kent Annan and his Haiti Partners projects. In April, we also published news about an inspiring documentary film from Haiti, called When the Drum Is Beating.

We invite our readers to tell us about inspiring work you are doing in Haiti, this year. Just email us at [email protected].

One reader who did just that is Cynthia Alloway, a nurse therapist and a Presbyterian minister in New Jersey who co-founded Foundation for Peace and volunteers in Haiti. She is heading to Haiti this week and, at the end of her story, asks for our readers’ prayers for her team.

Today, we are publishing …

Why I Am Inspired to Volunteer in Haiti

By Cynthia Alloway

Click this image to visit the Foundation for Peace webpage on Haiti. This nonprofit makes the same point that Haiti Partners’ Kent Annan made earlier: Despite news reports of ongoing crises, well-managed non-profit efforts are making a difference in many Haitian communities.Once I held little Alberto in my arms, I could never forget him. He was a 10-month-old baby wearing just a raggedy red t-shirt. I was in love the minute he smiled up at me with his big brown eyes. After his brother let me hold him for about 30 minutes, Alberto tried to hold onto my neck when it was time for us to depart. It broke my heart when he kept reaching for me—as his brother carried him home and my team returned to our transportation to take us to our housing at the end of our first day. 

I met little Alberto in a batey called Algodon in the Dominican Republic while on a mission trip with the Foundation for Peace. Our team came from the US to work in partnership with their local church, and to build a clean water system for the whole community. The bateyes are a village of shacks created to house the Haitian migrant workers who are willing to work in the Dominican Republic sugar cane plantations. There are rats and snakes in these sugar cane fields and the work is extremely difficult for very low pay.

Alberto was being cared for by his 6-year-old brother because his parents worked in the sugar cane field from sunrise to sunset. Most of the workers we met had no gloves or shoes, so they suffered much while doing this type of slave-like labor cutting down sugar cane by hand with machetes.

After a week of working together with their local church and making many friends, the water was flowing through the filtering system. There was great celebration when there was clean water for all. These people had been barely surviving on the stagnant water in the irrigation canals. Now, instead of water that was brown and green with many contaminants, they had clean pure-tasting water. The people told us that first day that they didn’t know water could look so clear!

I fell in love with little Alberto and his family and friends that week a few years ago. I continue to feel the nudging of the Holy Spirit to seek more ways to share the blessings and talents I have received during my comfortable life in the US.

We are all members of one global family and I look forward to meeting more of my global family in Haiti. I will be traveling with student nurses from the University of Pennsylvania under the leadership of their professor, Carrie Steele. I offered to help shepherd this group of student nurses as they work in a health clinic providing free healthcare to new mothers and babies in a town called Fond Parisien outside of Port au Prince. I am a psychiatric nurse therapist and a Presbyterian pastor so I will help to guide the students and provide healthcare teaching and pastoral counseling. A friend from our church, Susan Perry, a yoga master, has offered to join us to teach yoga. She plans to teach the new Haitian mothers simple yoga techniques to benefit their health and will help the student nurses learn yoga to de-stress after working all day in the clinic.

Please keep us all in your prayers! Our team will be in Haiti from May 3-10th.

Got a story about your volunteer assistance in Haiti?

We invite our readers to tell us about inspiring work you are doing in Haiti, this year. Just email us at [email protected].

Originally published at, an online magazine covering religion and cultural diversity.

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