Donors need to be careful with aid they send
For most people, destruction caused by a Jan. 12 earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, may feel like it is half a world away, but it hit close to home for Brenda Jordan of rural Hillsboro. Her daughter, Jennifer Ebenhack, lives in Cap-Haïtien, Haiti.
When Jordan heard about the earthquake, she immediately tried to call her daughter. She was unable to reach her by phone, but she quickly learned via e-mail that Ebenhack and her family were OK.
She said she didn’t panic when she heard about the earthquake.
“As a mother of course I’m concerned about the safety of my kids,” Jordan said, but she trusted her daughter was safe because she is doing God’s work.
Ebenhack and her husband, Jarod Ebenhack, have been missionaries in Haiti since 2002. They began their work in Port-au-Prince, but moved to Cap-Haïtien to work with Kids Alive Haiti in 2003.
They have been trying to adopt three Haitian children — Jaden, Justin, and Daphne — since shortly after arriving in Haiti. They are still trying to complete the official adoptions but have been set back. The lack of official adoption means Jaden, Justin, and Daphne cannot leave Haiti.
Their two youngest children, Dora and Brendan, were born in Haiti in 2004 and 2005.
The Ebenhacks will visit the United States for a few weeks in February and March, but Jaden, Justin, and Daphne will have to remain with family and friends in Haiti.
Kids Alive Haiti operates three children’s homes and a school. Jarod Ebenhack’s most recent role has been administrating the school, but they currently are on furlough.
“I was rewiring my whole inverter system,” Jarod Ebenhack wrote on the family’s Web site.
“While I was out back, tugging on the wires and talking to Mackenson, I thought, ‘The wind must be blowing hard up on the roof because these wires are sure vibrating.’
“Then Mackenson asked me if I felt the ground moving. A second or two later, I felt everything shaking, but not in a terribly violent fashion.
“The kids were roughhousing on their beds and didn’t feel a thing.
“Talking to Mackenson, I said, ‘That must have been really bad somewhere else.’”
People in Cap-Haïtien were shocked when he described pictures he had seen of the damage in Port-au-Prince.
There were reports that the earthquake cracked the bridge across the Haut-du-Cap River at Cap-Haïtien, he wrote. With the river flooded, that would cut the city off from supply routes in the northeast, possibly creating another humanitarian crisis unless the U.N. intervenes.
How to help Haiti
Relief efforts will need food and money, Jarod Ebenhack said, but people should donate money to reliable organizations like the American Red Cross and U.N.
Direct food donations get bogged down in Port-au-Prince and the food will rot. Alternatively, food may fall into the hands of the wrong people, he said.
In the long term, Haiti needs development instead of handouts, Jennifer Ebenhack said.
Long-term good can come from the attention caused by the earthquake if America pressures the government of Haiti to bring the country into the 21st century, Jarod Ebenhack said.
The Ebenhacks have a Web site, jarodandjennifer.com.