by James Morgan
HAITI – Haiti Lutheran Mission Society (HLMS)—Canada continues to prove a lot of things and a lot of love can fit into a 40 foot long shipping container. Approximately 40,000 lbs. worth! HLMS has sent its fall 2014 shipment of items to assist the various ministries of l’Église Luthérienne d’Haïti (the Lutheran Church of Haiti), and its President, Rev. Revenel Benoit. HLMS began sending container shipments to Haiti in 2005.
Among the diverse contents of the latest shipment were three truck engines and a Quonset hut. The engines were still attached to part of the vehicle frame after being partially taken apart to save space. Longtime HLMS volunteer and Shipping Director Howard Bogusat says the engines were all made before 1995, and therefore have fewer electronic components, which will make it much easier for Haitians to do any necessary mechanical work on them. The engines would have cost $7,500 each in Haiti—an astronomical price tag in the impoverished Caribbean country.
Mr. Bogusat said it was a challenge to properly fit the automotive items into the container with the Quonset hut and the hundreds of other items. Among the other supplies sent in the 1,314 item container were sewing machines, gardening tools, clothes and shoes, medical supplies, school supplies, tables and chairs, and office supplies. HLMS is hopeful that this shipment will be released by Haitian customs authorities faster than in the past.
French and Creole-speaking Haiti is one of the world’s poorest and most politically corrupt countries. It forms half of the island of Hispaniola, the other half being the Dominican Republic. A devastating earthquake hit Haiti in 2010 which complicated life for its citizens even further. Public works and infrastructure are very poor in the country. As a result, much of the Lutheran Church of Haiti’s ministry involves providing services that in other countries would be provided by governments or the private sector. Most of its 200 congregations also operate primary schools. The main congregation in Gonaives operates an orphanage for boys, a medical clinic, and a home for the elderly. The church also operates a bakery, computer training school, and a stone quarry that produces sand and concrete blocks. HLMS also provides $2,500 on a monthly basis to assist the Haitian church with its operating expenses.
The Haiti Lutheran Mission Society is a registered charitable organization under Canadian law and is a listed service organization of Lutheran Church–Canada. It is based in St. Catharines, Ontario and composed of Lutheran volunteer board members from the Niagara Region.
James Morgan is a writer and former broadcaster living in Gatineau, Quebec where he is completing a Ph.D in History. His home congregation is Trinity Lutheran near Gowanstown, Ontario, and he worships at various Lutheran Church–Canada congregations in the National Capital Region.