Dear Friends of EAPE,

My job as executive director of EAPE often carries me far from my street-level work, writing and loving my neighbors in inner-city Cincinnati. Just before Christmas I found myself in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where my old friends David Diggs (of Beyond Borders), John Engle and Kent Annan (of Haiti Partners) introduced me to the most dignified, courageous poor people I’ve ever met, who were cooperatively transforming their communities in ways I can hardly imagine happening here in my own neighborhood.

I met parents and teachers who had built schools for their children with their own hands, and who were learning to educate those children in a new, more hopeful way. I met a group of rape victims who had organized themselves to provide the medical care and emotional support they never received, despite the fact that most were hungry and illiterate. I met young Haitian activists who were working like slaves to abolish the restavek system of child slavery in their country through intervention, advocacy and economic development. I saw miracles in slow motion.

Three weeks later came the terrible earthquake we’ve all seen and heard so much about. Now I am wondering what will become of all that good work, and what has become of all those good people. The good news is that almost all of our staff workers in Haiti escaped death and serious injury. Kent and David were in the USA at the time, and John’s Haitian house shook badly but didn’t collapse on him and his family. Their key Haitian staff members were similarly fortunate, though virtually everyone in Haiti has lost close family and friends.

Indeed, having seen the desperation of Port-au-Prince just before this terrible earthquake, it doesn’t surprise me that even hardened reporters are calling it the most terrible place on earth right now. My inner-city neighbors are desperately poor in spirit, but our government consistently provides most of their basic physical needs. In Haiti, however, I encountered many people who had literally nothing but faith. Now they have less than nothing, and yet according to our guys who are there, they somehow have discovered even more faith. Our job now is to give all we can to make sure that faith is not in vain.

Many of you have already contributed to EAPE’s Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund, and that money is already at work, helping Beyond Borders and Haiti Partners provide emergency relief, safe havens for orphans, and the transitional education opportunities that are so crucial for children working through trauma in the immediate aftermath of this kind of disaster. Over and over we are hearing from others that our sister ministries’ long experience, Christian humility, and grassroots relational network is enabling them to deliver more and better help where it is needed most.

Moving forward, EAPE will help Beyond Borders and Haiti Partners rebuild those schools and programs that so amazed me on my pre-quake visit, which are the long term hope of this long-suffering country. At the same time, we will keep up the good work we are doing in other needy places, both here in the USA and abroad. It won’t be easy, and it won’t be cheap, but I – and a whole lot of Haitian children – thank God we can count on you to give sacrificially. Keep the Faith, Bart Campolo

Tony Campolo

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