Colorado Springs, CO—“I couldn’t attend the training,” a friend explained to Jean Charles, a Haitian pastor and one of the leaders of Schekinah Ministries, Haiti. “Can I borrow your trauma kit?”
Jean Charles surprised himself when he emphatically said no. “If you borrow the kit, I’ll never get it back. You can look at it. I will even go with you to the copy store so you can make copies, but I can’t give up the kit. I need it. My people need it too much.”
Since David C Cook made the Haiti Trauma Kit available for free this spring to any community group that could get it into the hands of church leaders in Haiti, over 80 Christian groups responded. This is one of the biggest cooperative efforts ever among Christian mission groups. Today 8000 Creole kits are in Haiti or on their way. An additional 1000 in English are available.
The kit contains (1) an 11-session curriculum that guides pastors and leaders through the healing process, (2) a case study between a pastor and a young man who lost his beloved wife in the earthquake, and (3) a Scripture guide for those who minister to hurting victims. For children, the kit contains (4) a lesson that helps children replace their fears with God’s peace and (5) an interactive children’s book that uses art therapy to help children express anger, hurt and pain.
Stories are finding their way back from Haiti. A young Haitian leader named Billy stood in front of the group of 15 of his peers and told the story of Jean and Marie, a couple who lost their home in the quake. Jean’s arm was crushed, and because it was a week before he could get medical attention, it had to be amputated.
Jean realized that even if the factory where he had worked opened again, he could not do his job with just one arm. He was angry at everyone. He started beating his wife. As Billy continued the story, Haitians began to nod their understanding.
Jean is just one in thousands who continues to deal with the trauma of the earthquake. Six months after the 7.0 magnitude quake, trauma symptoms were worsening. Billy talked about Marie, the wife. She is not angry, but she feels very sad inside. She isn’t interested in eating and often thinks about dying. She becomes frightened for no reason and has trouble sleeping. Her nightmares terrify her.
When Billy finished sharing Jean and Marie’s story, people started to talk about their own feelings, a culturally unusual phenomenon. In Haiti, verbalizing personal feelings and emotions is not acceptable. Yet if church leaders don’t deal first with their own emotions, they will never be able to help others who turn to them and the church for help.
The trauma kit Billy was using was brought to Port-au-Prince by “Mission to Haiti.” OM Caribbean and Compassion International have delivered hundreds of kits. Among other groups participating are Church of God Ministries, Kids Alive, Mercy Ships, and Somebody Cares America.
Henry Janowski, field leader for OM Caribbean, said, “The Haiti Trauma Kit supplied free by David C Cook is one of the best tools we have for helping Haitian people deal with the trauma from the earthquake.”
OM Caribbean bought 62 pastors together in Carrefour, Haiti, to train leaders to deal with their own trauma and then return home to help others deal with theirs. Again, unlike the cultural norms, there was a tremendous amount of dialogue and interaction. In the final session, attendees wrote their worst experiences and placed them at the foot of a cross. Then the papers were burned, symbolizing that God helps His people through any situation, no matter how horrific. Janowski explained, “It was like the weight of the world was lifted off the attendees.”
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. 80 percent of the population lives in abject poverty. Today only 28,000 of the 1.5 million people displaced by the earthquake have moved to safe transitional housing. 250,000 people died in the quake. 40,000 more children will die this year from diseases caused by malnutrition. Crime is rising and desperate people see little hope for recovery. The crisis is not over.
Contact David C Cook (Marlene.LeFever@DavidCCook.org) for more information on how to get Haiti Trauma Kits into the hands of Christian leaders.
Since 1875, David C Cook continues to be a leading nonprofit global resource provider serving the Church with life transforming materials Headquartered in Colorado Springs, Co, with offices in Elgin, Illinois, Paris, Ontario, Canada and Eastbourne, UK, David C Cook resources are published in over 150 languages, distributed in more than 80 countries, and sold worldwide. The Kingsway music division produces over 30% of the top 500 praise and worship songs sung around the world. For more information visit www.davidccook.com