Haitians return to quake-damaged churches

Haiti quake-damaged churches

Parishioners in Haiti are returning to worship in quake-damaged churches following the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that devastated Haiti’s southern peninsula.

At an evangelical church in the Bergeaud neighbourhood, parishioners sang hymns under beams of sunlight streaming through holes in the roof and walls.

Pastor Sevrain Marc Dix Jonas said Sunday’s service was special because his congregation had been unable to meet since the quake.

“Today was a must,” Dix Jonas said, standing below a gaping opening high in his church’s façade. “To thank God. He protected us. We did not die.”

His church was one of the few where congregants could worship inside. At many others, services were held in the street outside collapsed sanctuaries.

Taking that into account, the Roman Catholic church in Les Cayes moved its morning service to 6:30 a.m. to avoid the heat of the day.

For many Haitians, their only source of aid throughout their lives has been the church in the absence of strong government institutions.

In the city of Les Cayes, which was particularly devastated by the quake, clerics despaired even as they sought to project hope and resolve to rebuild.

“We are the only thing here,” said the Rev Yves Joel Jacqueline, 44. He works at the cathedral in Les Cayes with Haiti’s cardinal, Bishop Chibly Langlois, who was hurt in the quake.

“There is no support from the government.”

“Our church is destroyed and many churches around Les Cayes, and in Haiti are quake-damaged. But we have faith and know as long as people are still here, we can build back our community,” said Father Jacqueline.

Meanwhile, a Haitian gang leader on Sunday offered a truce and support for communities shattered by the earthquake.

Gangs have blocked roads, hijacked aid trucks and stolen supplies, forcing relief workers to transport supplies by helicopter. In places, desperate crowds have scuffled over bags of food.

But, it wasn’t immediately clear how much impact the truce offer might have.

While powerful, Jimmy Cherizier, alias “Barbecue,” is far from the only gang leader in Haiti.

Social media reports suggested an earlier gang truce failed to prevent attacks on the expanding relief effort.



The New York Times


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