Convoy of Hope began in 1994 with just a few people delivering food out of the back of a pick-up truck to needy neighborhoods in their area. Today, it’s an established faith-based humanitarian organization operating in more than 100 nations. “Before Jesus talked to the people, He fed them,” notes Jeff Nene, senior director of communications and technology for Convoy of Hope, pointing to Christ’s hands-on ministry as the model for their work.
Trusted organizations like Convoy of Hope were on the front lines in Haiti following the earthquake. They’ve worked in Haiti for years, specifically with their Children’s Feeding Initiative, which provides meals to 21,000 school children in four different countries. Almost providentially, their warehouse near Port-au-Prince was freshly restocked only days before the events of Jan. 12. The country director had also recently arrived, and was able to begin mobilizing Convoy of Hope workers to deliver hundreds of thousands of meals almost immediately. Four weeks after the initial quake, they’ve distributed almost 3 million nutritious meals.
Convoy of Hope maintains a fairly lean staff despite its wide realm of influence, and relies heavily on volunteers trained in disaster response. They also work as much as possible with the locals, recognizing them as the people who will be able to contribute long-term. “We’re trying to empower the local community and local leaders to be the go-to guy from that point on,” Nene explains. Convoy of Hope seems to be well-equipped for the job. The credible organization has earned four stars from Charity Navigator for the past six consecutive years. They also ensure that 93 cents of every donated dollar makes its way to the field.
The devastation seen in Haiti would be remarkable anywhere, but is even more significant in a fragile nation infamously known as the poorest in the Western Hemisphere. Unemployment was already at 80 percent prior to the quake. Now, countless displaced civilians gather in tent cities. “You’re faced with death and destruction every day,” Nene says. He adds that their teams were shocked to discover many whose homes remain intact huddling in the temporary shelters of sticks and blankets, now fearful of living beneath a concrete roof while aftershocks continue to rattle the ground.
How do the workers with Convoy of Hope, as well as numerous other relief organizations, persevere in such heartbreaking conditions? “The hope comes from our faith,” Nene says. Still, Nene believes their work will become more difficult in Haiti as their plight slips from the headlines and inevitably from the minds of the giving public. “We feel like we’re trying to re-fire the story in people’s minds. We can only give what we have been given to work with.”
You can continue to help Convoy of Hope as they provide food for the millions of people affected by the earthquake in Haiti. Look for ways to give on their website, follow them at twitter.com/convoyofhope, or text “CONVOY” to 50555 to make a $10 donation. Says Nene: “We really believe that it’s an opportunity for us to live what the real example of Christ is, and that’s to help people where they hurt.”