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Rotary club hears report on Lutheran Haiti relief project

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.

Submitted

Our Saviour Lutheran Church has adopted a project to help a Haitian community and especially its orphans.  So says Pastor Justin Miller and church Elder Terry Ollerhead, in an address to Dryden Rotary January 13.

Haiti is still recovering from its devastating earthquake, and Pastor Miller recounted how he came to adopt the small, remote town of Thomassique as a personal mission.   While not impacted directly by the earthquake, it is host to many refugees, many of whom are children, and many of these are orphans.  He commented “International aid does not get to such remote places, and many are living in horrendous conditions”.

Terry Ollerhead has joined Pastor Miller in making this an important part of his life.  He stated that they have visited the village several times and established a group of local people they can work with.  They have purchased a piece of land, and intend to travel to Thomassique in February to work with that local group in building a Community Well on that site.  Many people do not have access to safe drinking water.

While there, they will set the wheels in motion to do a ‘Needs Assessment’ to help them define a project to directly help the kids.  Pastor Miller indicated “it might be an orphanage, perhaps bricks and mortar on the property we own, perhaps some other arrangement.  There are orphanages in a larger neighbouring town of Hinch, funded by international aid, and these will be a model for us.”

In response to questions, Mr. Ollerhead acknowledged there have been problems with international aid to Haiti going astray.  He stated “We will be there on the ground so that we can make sure the money goes where it is intended”, adding “we are fundraising for the well through our church, but will no doubt have to fundraise more broadly for the orphans project.”

Thomassique is comparable to Dryden in size, but is now home to about 40 000 people, as many as 30 in a house.  It is only about 70 km from the capital, but it is at least 3 hours by jeep on mud roads, so it is very isolated, and receives little attention from the government.

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