“Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

The enthusiastic refrain comes from a small group of farmers living in Miragoâne, Haiti—a region devastated by Hurricane Matthew, which slammed into the country seven months ago. After 800 of the most vulnerable families received emergency food rations through a PWS&D-supported project with Canadian Foodgrains Bank, the hardworking women and men were keen to share their thanks.

A major concern looming over this group has been the crops they lost—breadfruit, avocados and bananas almost ready for harvest—when powerful winds and rain ripped over their land. In this remote mountain community, their families’ survival depends on what they grow. Food is too expensive to buy.

Letèse shares the challenges she and her family faced in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.

But these women and men lost more than crops. They lost animals, homes and livelihoods. They faced unimaginable hardships, yet hopeful smiles filled the sunlit room.

“Congratulations for what you do!” exclaims Letèse, a mother of three, rising to her feet. Her expression sobering, Letèse explains that she had nothing to feed her children after the hurricane and that even before the storm each day was a struggle. Her husband is disabled and it’s difficult for him to find work. Basic necessities and school fees are beyond their means.

When Letèse heard that her family would receive food, she was overjoyed. An enthusiastic “bon bagay”—an expression in Haitian Creole meaning “good things”—is her description of the rice, corn, beans, herring and oil she got.

Micheline, a neighbour sitting close to Letèse, nods in agreement.

Food rations have been crucial for Micheline and her family.

Micheline is a single mother. Like Letèse, she had a hard time feeding her three children before the disaster. She managed to meet her family’s nutritional needs through welfare. The rations have been crucial for their survival.

“When I learned that the food distributions were starting, I was crying,” says Micheline.

The gratitude and joy that surfaces in challenging circumstances like this one is truly inspiring. But the spirit of community and partnership among this group of farmers was unparalleled.

Every single beneficiary, just beginning to pick up the pieces of their lives, said that they shared their rations with families who were not part of the program, even those outside of their own community. It’s an inspiring show of compassion and a testament to the importance of this project that is empowering communities as they work together to recover and rebuild.

*This project received support from Canadian Foodgrains Bank. PWS&D is a member of Canadian Foodgrains Bank, a partnership of 15 churches and church agencies working together to end global hunger. This project is undertaken with matching support from the Government of Canada.