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Hurricane Matthew - Looking back a year later

Before you do anything else, go look at Espere's photo album of our work after Hurricane Matthew here: A picture is worth a thousand words, and we've got an album!

A year ago this month the southern coast of Haiti was devastated by category 5 Hurricane Matthew. After the multiple, intense hurricanes of this past summer, it seems like the world can barely catch its breath. But after Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti, you, the friends and family of Espere donated helping people achieve peace of mind, recover from trauma and be agents in their own recovery.

Just 4 days after the Hurricane, Espere team members were able to travel to some of the most affected areas with immediate relief supplies (such as drinking water and rice), meet with community leaders, and perform an initial mental health needs assessment. As we walked among neighborhoods, we saw trees where roofs should be, and roofs were where trees should be. It was humbling to see the strength of this storm, but even more humbling to see the strength of the people. Everyone was busy putting their walls back up where their houses once stood, laying all their belongings out in the hot Caribbean sun to dry, and sharing what little they had left with neighbors who had even less.

After that first visit, our Haitian mental health workers made regular visits to hospitals and hurricane camps around Les Cayes for six months following the hurricane. Team members lead group counseling sessions in the temporary shelter communities with over 150 adults and children. The team also gave out 162 gallon-sized hygiene kits and other essentials from in-kind donations to Espere. In therapy sessions, especially with children, the team was able to use new play therapy toys and art supplies that will benefit many more children in therapy sessions to come.

The team remembers seeing the children each time they entered the shelter camps. “Each time they saw us, they were so happy. They can’t express what they feel.” Old people also said about when they saw us, they were so glad to share their story with someone of how survived the hurricane. They feel relieved to have someone listen to how they feel.” Another team member added, that people in that area have always lived in a bad situation. After a storm like Matthieu, losing everything, speaking with people regularly helps raise hope. Doing activities to deal with stress was necessary, even amidst the other relief needs that people had.

It has been an honor for all of us at Espere to provide our services in the wake of this disaster. We learned a lot form the project. When the team was asked if they thought it would be a good idea to repeat this project in the future, one person said, “Yes! We don’t need a hurricane. Any disaster. Maybe an accident. When people have a problem, and we can listen.”

All of the relief we were able to offer was possible because on generous donations from people like you. Without your contribution, we couldn’t send out our team members for regular counseling sessions or provide relief supplies. Thank you for participating with us in this project.

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