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MCC in the News

The Ontario branch of The Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), based in Kitchener, ON, has been a long time client of PeaceWorks.  We are pleased to work with clients that are doing such great work both locally and around the globe. 

Read more about the work MCC is continuing to do in Haiti on the 5th anniversary of its devastating earthquake.

Waterloo Region Record
by Jeff Hicks

KITCHENER — Five years after a devastating earthquake believed to have killed hundreds of thousands, the relief work anchored by local efforts continues in the Caribbean nation of Haiti.

"Those relief supplies we distributed within weeks are long gone," said Rick Cober Bauman, executive director of the Kitchener-based Ontario branch of the Mennonite Central Committee.

"The response continues to be bigger than houses that were damaged. It's how do we create livelihoods back in rural communities. Some of that is ongoing."

And the work to rebuild thousands of toppled buildings and crushed lives in the wake of a 7.0-magnitude quake that struck outside Haiti's capital on Jan. 12, 2010 carries on thanks to an extraordinary effort from residents of Waterloo Region, Cober Bauman says.

Since the quake, MCC donations from Waterloo Region have totalled $1.35 million, including $156,937 collected through local schools and school boards.

That local total represents nearly half the $2.83-million the organization collected for Haiti from all of Ontario. It's about nine per cent of $16.9 million collected across North America.

"There was an enormous response here," Cober Bauman said.

"This community really did, we feel, stand out."

Immediately after the tragedy struck, warehouse space at Charles Street and Ottawa Street in Kitchener was donated for the Kent Avenue-based committee to use. Then, the rest of the community showed up on site to help, mostly in the weeks after the disaster that hit the capital Port-au-Prince and surrounding cities hard.

"Crowds of people helped us out on lunch hours and evenings," he said.

"We had everybody from radio stations to service clubs to youth groups coming up there. Generally, they brought goods to contribute and then they helped pack those goods into what we call a relief kit."

The Kitchener Rangers collected items for hygiene kits at a junior hockey game while local ambulance stations became drop-off points for items to go in relief kits.

Stores in Waterloo Region started running out of items people wanted to purchase for relief kits bound for Haiti.

"We had people calling us, saying they'd just been to X store and they couldn't buy a towel or a maxi-pad," he said. "We started realizing that's because there was such an amazing material response."

Some work-and-learn tours from Ontario, including about a half-dozen volunteers from Waterloo Region, went to Haiti to work alongside locals in the cleanup effort.

"A lot of our work is in rural areas," he said. "We try to make it less likely that young people will leave rural communities and sort of flee to the big city where you put pressure on infrastructure and there's no work and so on."

Mennonite Central Committee has nearly $2 million in more earthquake response projects planned for Haiti in 2015 and beyond.

jhicks@therecord.com
 

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