About the missionaries
Right after the quake, volunteers from around the world flooded Port-au-Prince, Leogane, and Jacmel, as they responded to the many needs of the distressed. At the same time, international organizations and NGOs rushed to Haiti, overloading the streets with pickup trucks toting their respective insignias. Planes going to Haiti carried more foreigners than nationals. Some Haitians even adopt defiant attitude toward this flux of visitors, fearing hidden or undisclosed agendas.
By the end of 2011, many organizations have left, and volunteers have shifted their attention to newer crises. However, one category of volunteers continues to come to Haiti: the missionaries. Nowadays, in any plane going to Haiti, you can find teams of missionaries, easily recognizable by their uniform T-shirts, mostly youngsters accompanied by experienced adults. They volunteer to church-led projects, particularly orphanages and mobile clinics. They stay at guest-houses managed by fellow missionaries. They’d travel to isolated towns and villages. Many such teams also fund local projects, such as school and clinics.
As the missionaries work with low profile groups that maintain little interaction with state entities, government reports barely include their contribution to the rebuilding effort. Nevertheless, their contribution is valuable to the health and social sectors, and even to the larger economic sector. Thanks to missionary funding or direct work, many Haitian patients access no or low cost care, many guest-houses and hotels remain in business, many young professionals enjoy steady income, and many families live in their own houses.
The Quake has planted a compassionate seed in many hearts. For most volunteers, this seed has birthed a small tree that couldn’t resist the test of time. But for missionaries, the seed has sprung a huge tree, whose many roots plunge deep into the soil. Thus, even though Haiti is no longer in the spotlight, missionaries are still flocking to this island nation, which still needs much help to become self-sufficient.