Time running out for Haiti's poor

Coconut Creek, FL (May 5, 2009) —A new crisis is looming in Haiti, where four devastating storms tore through the tiny island nation in the span of a month last year, and a leading charity says thousands of destitute Haitians face starvation.

According to Angel Aloma, Executive Director of the Florida-based charity Food For The Poor, the situation in Haiti is critical. The majority of Haitians are worse off today than they were this time last year, and without immediate action, thousands of malnourished Haitians may die.

“From the global food crisis to the storms, the floods, the decimation of crops, and now a global recession, Haiti continues to suffer terribly,” says Aloma. “Already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti keeps getting beaten back.”

The average family in Haiti lives on less than $2 a day. In April 2008, the global food crisis sent prices for staple foods soaring in Haiti, leaving many with nothing to eat. Months later, the tiny nation was devastated by four storms that caused extensive mudslides and widespread flooding, killed hundreds of people, and left tens of thousands homeless. The storms wiped out the nation’s meager crops and severely damaged Haiti’s antiquated infrastructure. Just as Haiti was beginning to recover from the damaging storms, the recession has cut into charitable donations to the country.

Aloma says each of those events hindered Haiti’s progress in the fight against poverty. But, he says, the four storms themselves did the most damage.

He says that after the storms, Food For The Poor set up six emergency feeding centers in Gonaives, one of the cities hardest hit by the last storm. At the height of the disaster, nearly 30,000 Haitians with no other source of food visited the feeding centers every day. Aloma says the feeding centers were originally set up as temporary sites, but the ongoing need has been so great that Food For The Poor has kept four of them open. Today, nearly 3,000 Haitian storm victims still have to make the trek to those centers for their one meal of the day.

Aloma says that one bright spot in the charity’s efforts to help Haiti is the fact that Food For The Poor is able to acquire food in such large quantities that it can feed a family of four for a month for just $12. And, he says, because Food For The Poor has been in Haiti for more than two decades and has an extensive distribution network on the island, the charity is able to get help to those who need it most.

“We’re not giving up hope for Haiti,” Aloma says. “One day at a time, one village at a time, one family at a time, we’re not giving up – we’re not losing hope.”

Food For The Poor, the largest international relief and development organization in the United States, serves the poor of the Caribbean, Latin America and the U.S. Food For The Poor provides food, emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, basic housing, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. More than 97 percent of all donations received go toward programs that help the poor. For more information, visit www.foodforthepoor.org.

Hugh Graf
(954) 427-2222 x 6610