Haitians rebuild their churches

The holy places of Haiti were not spared by the devastating January 12th earthquake. Throughout the capital city, Port-au-Prince, many churches are rebuilding out of the rumble.

Holy Trinity Cathedral

Holy Trinity Cathedral, one of the landmarks of the city known for its beautiful murals painted by famous Haitian artists. ”Haiti will come back,” Father Ogé Beauvoir told a delegation of six church leaders from different parts of the world who visited the ruins of the church on 15 June 2010.

Clearing the rubble

Members of the Church of God are clearing rubble in the blazing sunshine during the hottest time of the day. ”The demolishing was started right after the earthquake, because we want to get people back here,” Brother Saül Raphaël from the Church of God told the ecumenical delegation.

Worship and reconstruction

In the courtyard of the collapsed Church of God the reconstruction work is under way. The four-floor building collapsed just before a service was about to take place. The choir members were able to run out through a hole in the wall, but the church lost two of its members. In two days the congregation will have its first service in the roofless space.

The Russian Orthodox School

WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit (right) and the Rev. Dr Carlos Ham standing on the roof of the damaged Russian Orthodox School in Port-au-Prince. The school is surrounded by a displaced people's camp.

Pupils at the Russian Orthodox School

Kay Nou community centre

On the outskirts of Port au Prince, the delegation visited a community centre supported by ACT Alliance member Norwegian Church Aid and run by their local partner agency Viva Rio.

Creativity in the camp

Kay Nou, the space formerly used as Viva Rio’s community centre in Port-au-Prince’s downtrodden Bel Air neighborhood, is now at the centre of a tent encampment housing some 1600 people. Children living in Kay Nou are benefiting from daily opportunities to learn creative endeavors like art, music and dancing, helping them deal with the stress of being displaced.

Churches must act together

In a panel discussion on Tuesday, 15 June 2010 involving representatives from several Haitian denominations, the ecumenical delegation shared their thoughts about the role of churches, emphasizing that the church must respond at all levels of reconstruction and remain in the community long-term. ”There are two tasks for the churches,” Tveit said. ”One is to be able to say what needs to be changed and the other is to interpret the vision revealing how to make that change. What churches and the ACT Alliance can do together is to help make the voices of the people heard on different levels.”

Ecumenical delegation

The ecumenical delegation who visited Haiti, 14-16 June 2010. From left to right: Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC general secretary; Dr Victoria Kamondji, vice-president of the French Protestant Federation; Gerard Granado, Caribbean Conference of Churches general secretary; Rev. Dr Bernice Powell Jackson, WCC president from North America; Mr Lorenzo Mota King, executive director of Social Services of the Dominican Churches, ACT Alliance; Rev. Dr Carlos E. Ham, WCC programme executive for Latin America and the Caribbean; Rev. Nilton Giese, Latin American Council of Churches general secretary.

 

All pictures © WCC/Catianne Tijerina.
High resolution versions of these pictures are available upon request.