Operation Blessing Provides Jobs to Haitians

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- In addition to all of its other earthquake relief, Operation Blessing International is also employing some Haitians, giving them the jobs they need to support themselves and their families.

Amidst the heartbreak and dire conditions of Haiti, one long-term problem is unemployment, which right now is worse than ever. Elyse Mondestin lost everything, including his home.

"Seven people died here in this apartment," said Elyse Mondestin, an earthquake survivor. "It was an apartment of two floors, so those people they already picked their dead body. So we picked them up, send them to the morgue, a private morgue."

"I'm helping sixteen people," Mondestin added. "So, I didn't have any money at the bank. I didn't have a bank account. I'm just broke, totally broke. I lost all my clothes, all that I had."

The main street of Port-au-Prince looks like any average street in Haiti, littered with debris following the earthquake. The earthquake has shaken up the lives of Haitians in just about every way, including their ability to earn an income. And prior to the earthquake, a Haitian on average earned less than one U.S. dollar a day.

Taking on the task of transporting doctors and providing laborers for the international relief efforts, Operation Blessing offers a short-term solution to the needs of some desperate Haitians.

"Operation Blessing right now has a couple of truck drivers that we're employing," said Eric Lotz, Haiti's national director for Operation Blessing. "We're hiring hands to help move goods. We've got a couple of translators that we're hiring for those teams that are going out into the city that need a translator with them. We've been hiring some guys to help us install water purification systems, just hands to be there to lift heavy things. We're trying to do our part to help out. It feels like it's just a drop in the bucket, you know it's not much , but it's going to help out some families."

In the end the long-term plight of men like Mondestin can only be addressed when people return to work. Right now he works for Operation Blessing as a translator. In the meantime, memories of that cruel day haunt Haitians day and night and yet there remains an unbelievable resilience in the lives of the people.

"These people used to be my neighbors, so we lost them. But thanks to God we're still alive. What is so amazing to me is, why was I saved?," Mondestin asked. "Why God has saved me?"

*Originally published January 27, 2010. 

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Efrem Graham is an award-winning journalist, who comes to CBN News from the ABC owned and operated station in Toledo, Ohio.  He received his master's degree from the Columbia University Journalism School. He also holds a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.  Follow Efrem on Twitter @EfremGraham and "like" him at Facebook.com/EfremGrahamCBN.