Hurrican Irma Update

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In September, we were informed that Hurricane Irma damaged the home of one of our sponsored children, Sterson Bonhomme (HA075000415), in northern Haiti.  We were also told that his family lost its source of income.  We immediately sent an extra family gift to help.  We have now received a letter, sent by him in June, and so perhaps his project has recovered enough to let you know how Sterson and his mother are doing.  Has the home been repaired?  What was the lost source of income?  Has it been replaced?  Are they okay?  We realize it is too early to expect news directly, and so we are hoping you can find out something for us in the meanwhile.  We're very concerned.  Thank you for your help.  --Kathleen Young
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Mitchel and Kathleen

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  • concerned but confident

Posted 1 year ago

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Sarah, Sponsor and Donor Relations, Social Media

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Hi Mitchel and Kathleen! It is so good to hear from you again! I completely understand the concern you have for Sterson and his family after Hurricane Irma damaged their home. That must have been so scary for them! Regrettably, I don't have information on how they are doing, nor is that information I am able to find out for you. You can certainly ask Sterson in a letter how his family is doing. Know that the staff at Compassion will have been checking on he and his family and making sure they have their basic needs met while they try to rebuild what the hurricane damaged.
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Mitchel and Kathleen

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Hi, Sarah

We sent a postcard to Sterson via Compassion's online letter-writing system in September, shortly after learning of his plight.  Since his June letter got through to us earlier this month, I will send him another card today to inquire how he and his mother are doing and hope we will soon hear from him. 

However, my husband and I are not encouraged by the lack of communication we have received from Compassion staff regarding the welfare of Sterson and his mother.  We're grateful for the prompt news of their losses so we could respond with prayer and gifts; however, we find it difficult to comprehend why Compassion can't give us an update after more than two months have passed.  Having received the June letter from him, there must be some type of communication available now between Compassion staff in the U. S. and in Haiti.  Therefore, we again request an update on the status of Sterson (HA075000415).

We understand the delay in receiving any news directly from Sterson since it takes quite awhile for letters and gifts to be processed under normal conditions.  Certainly we can be patient while the project staff and church staff, as well as Sterson and his mother, are recovering from their losses due to the hurricane in September.  It is difficult, however, to be patient with the lack of any news whatsoever about our sponsored child after finding out that he lost his home and the family lost their source of income.  These losses are huge!  We're very concerned. 

Please help us.  Please let us know something.

Thank you.  We appreciate whatever help you can give us.
--Kathleen Young
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Susan, Sponsor and Donor Relations, Social Media

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Kathleen, again, we greatly appreciate your care and concern for Sterson and his family. We are very grateful for kindhearted sponsors like yourself who deeply care about children in poverty. I agree with you completely that the loss of home and income is a huge blow to a family, especially one in extreme poverty where insurance and other safety nets may not be available. 

Let me give a little more of an explanation of how Compassion handles crises and natural disasters. Compassion works exclusively through local churches who administer our program. They have a heart for their communities and know the neediest families personally. Our program is long term and child focused. This means that while we are not a disaster relief organization, sometimes disasters happen and we serve children through these situations as well. We were there long before the disaster hit and we will be there for long afterwards caring and meeting the needs of families. Each of our staff members are trained in how to respond to needs within a community during and after a natural disaster or other crisis. They are there caring for the families on a daily basis all the time, but especially through a crisis. We provide the local centers with funds on hand to respond immediately with food, water, hygiene supplies, etc. as needed. Many student centers become shelters for families in our programs as well. If additional funding or needs arise, they will reach out to us through their country office for assistance. While we are providing immediate needs, we are also collecting information so that we can notify supporters like you. Once the disaster or crisis funding and communication process has ended, supporters continue to receive updates and stay connected with their children through letters. 

Recently, we have cut down the time that it takes for letters to go back and forth. It now takes between a few weeks to a few months for letters to be delivered through our streamlined process. On the other hand, inquiries to our field offices still take about six to eight weeks to be processed because it involves a staff member making an additional home visit and extra communication outside of their normal procedures. I hear that you are very concerned and would like to receive an update on Sterson and his family. That said, I believe that the quickest and easiest route to get that update would be to ask him in a letter and to wait for the response. I see that you sent a letter just recently expressing your concern and asking how he is doing. This letter is already in translation and will likely be delivered very soon in the coming weeks. There is another letter in process from him. 

I am sorry that I am not able to provide more information to you immediately. Thank you for your patience as we wait to hear back from Sterson. 
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Mitchel and Kathleen

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Thank you for this explanation.  It helps us understand why waiting to hear back from Sterson will give us info quicker than waiting for field office response.

Compassion has been around quite awhile and knows how to operate efficiently; but I'd like to make a suggestion.  Perhaps, during disaster recovery, church or Compassion staff or volunteers could ask children who attend how they're doing at home after the crisis event and just mark a chart with simple status columns showing whether their situation is same, improving, back to normal, or if worse, briefly state why--something to mark easily and quickly, even if children's responses are vague.  That kind of communication could be conveyed in a single e-mailing of the checklist and provide something your staff could reference when sponsors inquire.  It would help us sponsors feel connected and informed.  Specific information provided by a home visit would be a wonderful luxury that never even crossed our minds.    

Thank you for taking the time to respond and for letting us know another letter is on its way soon!  We appreciate all Compassion and its church partners do to help children, especially those we have chosen to love.
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Sarah, Sponsor and Donor Relations, Social Media

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Kathleen, I will certainly pass your suggestion on to the right party here at Compassion! I hope Sterson's letter gives you more information on how he and his family are doing :).

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