At Mission of Hope, Haiti’s Cedar Park headquarters, there is a lot going on for a Wednesday. But this isn’t your typical middle of the week workday. Staff there are in the throes of mobilizing teams and readying supplies. They are being sent to deliver much needed relief to Haiti after Hurricane Matthew left a wake of destruction in its path.
“We are able to quickly mobilize food, water, and medicine and we have a proven track record of doing that,” says VP of Stateside Operations, Annette Boorman, adding, “we have over 400 partners there, and we can say we know what’s coming, how can we plan, and now we are able to execute this plan.”
Mission of Hope, Haiti, was founded in 1998, in Haiti. The non-profit not only provides relief during natural disasters, but they also help to improve the daily life of Haitians through education and ministry. A message that the organization’s Home Building Coordinator Ruben Cenea learned about firsthand. “I grew up a quarter mile from mission of hope. I was one of the kids that would come there every day,” he says, “I would connect with people, I learned English there, I got my first job there. I am so grateful to be part of it.”
In 2010 Cenea was in class in Haiti, when the earthquake flattened his school. He was buried in the rubble. “It was pretty devastating,” he says thinking about the day that would change his life forever.
Ruben came to Texas at the end of that year. He had met his future wife Amy while she was living in Haiti. Fortunately she was already back in Texas when the earthquake struck. The two were married, and now have a two-year old child.
Ruben has been working for Mission of Hope, Haiti here in the United States for the past six years. “To have someone who has lived it, to know what it’s like to grow up Haitian, that knows what it’s like to experience the things that most of us will never even see, much less experience and to have that on our staff,” Boorman says about Ruben, “is huge.”
He started at their Cedar Park office around the time Mission of Hope, Haiti moved their U.S. headquarters to Texas. “Right after the earthquake, there were so many volunteers from the Austin area that we knew this was the place that we needed to have our Austin support office,” says Boorman.
Boorman, and Cenea, like much of the organization’s staff, and volunteers travel regularly to Haiti spending their days helping the Haitian people to further their education, and to provide food, and medical attention.
They are also building much needed homes for the thousands still living in tents after the hurricane practically levelled the entire country. “There are 700 families that we personally know of that were living in concrete block homes when this hurricane hit,” says Boorman, adding, “we moved 40 families on Saturday, Reuben was part of that, moving 40 families from tents into concrete homes which makes all the difference in the world.”
But because of Hurricane Matthew, millions are left helpless. “Their temporary shelters was supposed to last for 3 months and it lasted for 6 years. So these people they have no place to live, nowhere to go, food or water or medical supplies,” Cenea says.
That’s why this trip home is needed now more than ever, “we are shipping everything we have in the warehouse at mission of hope to send it to the south region of this country,” Cenea says, as he heads to catch an overnight flight to Haiti.
And while one of the world’s poorest nations tries to win its latest battle, Cenea is optimistic, “We are resilient people,” he says, “we are going to move on and get out of this and see a new day.”.
But until then he, and the thousands of others who are making the trek haven’t made plans to come home, “we are just going there to help as long as it takes.”
And give hope to people, the same way they gave it to Ruben.
To help Mission of Hope, Haiti, you can donate by texting @mohhaiti to 52014, or through their website.