ELCA NEWS SERVICE
April 1, 2011
Give Generously to Haiti, Says ELCA Presiding Bishop to Orion Samuelson
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- Continue to pray for the people of Haiti and give generously to help Haitians rebuild their country, said the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), in a television interview with well-known agricultural journalist Orion Samuelson. But Hanson said that even though the spirit of the Haitian people is strong, it is important not to underestimate the challenges ahead.
Hanson, who was interviewed by Samuelson for "This Week in Agribusiness," an agricultural news program, suggested that people advocate for Haitians who fled to the United States following the devastating earthquake of 2010. He said many Haitians living and working in the United States are sustaining their families in Haiti with the wages they earn.
The complete interview is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L43YIAz4rr8 on the Web.
Hanson spoke with Samuelson after he returned from a visit to Haiti Feb. 21-22. The Rev. Joseph Livenson Lauvanus, president of the Eglise Lutherienne d'Haiti (The Lutheran Church of Haiti) and Hanson visited several ELCA-supported recovery projects in Haiti initiated in the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake.
ELCA members have given more than $12.9 million to the ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Appeal in response to the earthquake in Haiti, 100 percent of which is being used to provide relief and recovery in Haiti. The ELCA is now engaged in a five-year redevelopment plan in the country. A hallmark of the ELCA's response to widespread disasters is to assist with both immediate needs and engage in long-term sustainable redevelopment efforts, working alongside people who live in the area.
Hanson told Samuelson that when visiting Haiti, there is a temptation to only see the devastation and the poverty. But as he and Lauvanus walked through the rubble, Lauvanus told him that "Haitians will not be defined by the rubble, but by restoration, for we are a people of the resurrection."
"That opened my eyes to see beyond the rubble," Hanson said in the interview. "What I began to see was the impact of the capacity of the Haitian people to rebuild their lives." That restoration is happening through the generosity of the people of the ELCA and the generosity of people all over the world, he said.
Samuelson asked Hanson to comment on agricultural restoration in Haiti. The ELCA is involved in a reforestation project with Haitians and partners in The Lutheran World Federation and the Lutheran Church in Haiti, Hanson said. Two-thirds of the forests in Haiti have been cut down, and there is no process for reforestation, he said.
Chickens are being provided to some 200 farmers to develop an egg production cooperative in places such as Bell Au-Fonds des Negres, Vialet-Petit Goave and Poste Droit-Les Cayes. "That's going to bring capacity to feed families that (are) part of this cooperative," Hanson said.
Hanson also spoke of a Haitian coffee cooperative initiated years before the earthquake through a gift from the ELCA World Hunger program. That cooperative is a now a $1 million-per-year business, he said. It employs about 200 women in the community and is part of the ELCA's commitment to sustainable development.
Another hopeful sign is the construction of a vocational training center, to be built on the structure of an old sugar factory, Hanson said. The day he was there, 40 young people signed up for the vocational training program in building construction, Hanson said, adding that the center was made possible through funding provided by ELCA members.
Information about the ELCA's response to the disaster in Haiti, including how to give, is at http://www.ELCA.org/disaster on the ELCA Web site.
A news story about Presiding Bishop Hanson's visit to Haiti is at http://www.ELCA.org/News/Releases.asp?a=4720 on the ELCA website.
About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with approximately 4.5 million members in more than 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.
For information contact:
John Brooks, (773) 380-2958 or firstname.lastname@example.org