We’ve had three good days of work in Sassier, but it’s just the start of a long process, as the needs are many and great.
While providing immediate relief is still our top priority, we’ve also begun to lay the groundwork for the rebuilding efforts ahead. Rebuilding involves not only all the structures that have been devastated, but also the lives of people in the Sassier community, many of whom have lost almost everything.
We spent all of Thursday meeting with our local partners, and planning the next steps in the recovery efforts. Our collective goal is to meet the immediate needs, while transitioning to recovery and rebuilding as quickly as possible.
While the Catholic Parish in Sassier plays a major role in these efforts, assistance is provided to everyone who needs it, regardless of religious belief. The reality is that the Parish is the social safety net in the Sassier area.
We have four major areas of focus over the next few weeks:
- Continue to provide food and basic human needs until larger organizations can take over that role. In addition to the supplies provided this week, we will make a large food delivery next week. The Parish is still housing more than 500 people in the parish center and school. The Parish Council and Fr. Tony are managing the important work of distributing supplies.
- Provide short-term employment. We will provide the opportunity for short term employment to about 100 people, to clear debris and assist in recovery efforts. Work provides a hand up, not a handout, and allows people to maintain their dignity by providing for their families.
- Providing shelter. We will assist those whose houses are structurally intact but need roofs. We are also searching for large tents with raised floors and cots for those whose houses have been destroyed.
Reopening schools. Our schools suffered no lasting damage, for which we are very grateful. However, our students have lost everything – books, backpacks, uniforms, etc. In addition, the two public primary schools are in ruins. Our plan is to open our schools on a phased basis in early November. We will also assist the public schools and their students.
Our work is both a sprint and a marathon. While we are off to a good start with our relief efforts, it is still only a start, and the hardest work lies ahead.
The people of Sassier are regaining hope, and they have determination and a willingness to work. But rebuilding their lives and community will require significant resources, which they cannot provide for themselves. In the end, none of the work of rebuilding can happen without your continued generosity.