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May6FriRebuilding lives and hope in Haiti. May 6, 2016 by Lt-Colonel Lee Graves
It is winter in Haiti—cool by local accounts at 28 C. For those of us from Toronto, it would be hot in our summer wear; it's even more suffocating in our formal serge uniforms. We are here to participate in the official opening of the Salvation Army primary health centre and social services office, exactly six years after the devastating earthquake that killed 250,000 people and caused billions of dollars in damage to the country's infrastructure.
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- Opinion & Critical Thought
January 12, 2016, signalled a new beginning as we celebrated the opening and dedication of these newly constructed, seismically engineered structures, which will offer programs integral to the community. The reconstruction was made possible through funding from the international community, including a significant amount from the Canada and Bermuda Territory. Reconstructing buildings is less challenging than reassuring a shattered people. Though faced with natural disasters and human-made economic crises, the resiliency, grace and gratitude of the Haitian people was inspirational. Clearly, The Salvation Army's decades of faithful programs and ministry were foundational to bringing hope to multitudes of people.
Beyond celebrating the construction of new buildings, what impacted me most significantly was observing the strength-based approach of investing in people through education. We travelled to Fond-des-Nègres to participate in a graduation ceremony for 200 young adults who had successfully completed vocational training in the areas of electrical, plumbing and agricultural skills, through a program funded by the Canada and Bermuda Territory. As they walked across the platform in their colourful gowns, it was thrilling to greet them and present their graduation certificates, to the applause of friends and family.
The work of our world missions department is regularly highlighted in the pages of Salvationist. This small team ensures that financial support is used to improve the quality of lives and build community all around the world. They travel tirelessly to impoverished countries, partnering with local leadership to equip people with new skills and the means to build a better life. Philosophically, they start from a place of strength, not poverty. The Haiti redevelopment project is a prime example of how The Salvation Army works in partnership to achieve sustainable results, supporting programs designed by local participants.
For the last three years, I have had the privilege of working closely with this department, and have been blessed by their depth of commitment to others. They embody Isaiah 58:10: “Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon” (NLT).
Lt-Colonel Lee Graves is the secretary for business administration for the Canada and Bermuda Territory.