Plant With Purpose mobilizes community relief efforts in Haiti following Hurricane Matthieu.

The earthquake that changed everything and nothing

Plant With Purpose committed to showing up.

Few events stand out in the memory of Plant With Purpose’s executive director Scott Sabin like the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti. As news broke on that Monday in early January, the organization had to quickly figure out how to respond to an event that claimed 300,000 lives and displaced over a million people.

Relief operations are a rarity for Plant With Purpose. The organization’s program focuses on development, proactively empowering communities to be strong enough to develop good infrastructure so that they will be in a better position to handle emergencies like natural disasters.

The earthquake in Haiti demanded a response, however, as its magnitude changed life on the already challenged island for good. Scott knew that the needs would be great. Scott also knew Plant With Purpose could help.

“Plant With Purpose’s local staff has partnered with Haitian farmers for over 15 years. When the earthquake struck, we were ready to respond to the emergency. Our long-term relationships enabled us to integrate our emergency relief efforts with our long-term agricultural development programs,” he recalls.

Relief tents were a common sight in Haiti in the days that followed the earthquake
Relief tents were a common sight in Haiti in the days that followed the earthquake

Since the earthquake, partnering communities have come a long way.

Almost a decade later, many Haitians still feel the effects of the destruction caused by the earthquake. The nation has also weathered a few severe hurricanes throughout that timeframe. In spite of this, Plant With Purpose has continued to work in some of the poorest areas to accomplish some of the following:

  • Distributing over 1,300 potable water systems to help prevent the spread of cholera and other illnesses
  • Providing training in sustainable agriculture to over 22,000 rural families to contribute towards environmental health and nourished soil. These two factors greatly mitigate the damage of an natural disaster
  • Built over 1,000 miles of soil conservation barriers to protect farms and protect deadly mudslides
  • Planting over 2,000,000 trees to provide food security, environmental health, and natural resilience
Plant With Purpose's in-country networks allowed it to respond to emergencies swiftly.
Plant With Purpose’s in-country networks allowed it to respond to emergencies swiftly.

Our goal is to build resilience BEFORE the next disaster strikes.

All these efforts not only reflect an incredible recovery after the disaster, but better preparation for the next one. Having a healthy environment is key to reducing the risks that a disaster brings, and increasing the ability of an area to recover from one. For a country that is geographically prone to natural disasters, this is extremely important.

“The resilience of my Haitian friends tremendously inspires me. We have seen great progress in the communities where we are working, despite the ongoing challenges,” Sabin comments. “We remain committed to helping rural communities restore their lives and lands, and to live with hope for a better future.”

The best sort of disaster recovery is the one that you don’t need to do. Sustainable development allows places like Haiti to be strong before and in the face of a disaster.

Plant With Purpose is committed to Haiti during hopeful seasons and challenging times. So much of the work that is done while things are quiet pays off during a time of urgent need. To help contribute towards the resilience of rural farming villages, consider becoming a Purpose Partner! Your $22 donation will pay off in countless ways.

Philippe Lazaro

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