A real-life loaves-and-fishes story
The disciples replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” And Jesus said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full.
— Matthew 14:17-20
St Jean du Sud is a picturesque fishing community at the very southernmost tip of Haiti, where brightly painted homes sit just meters from the Caribbean Sea, and fishing boats sway gently in the surf. During a recent visit, spring rains collected in heavy clouds over the water, a reminder of how dangerous proximity to the sea can be in the late summer hurricane season.
The area was devastated when the eye of Hurricane Matthew roared over Haiti’s southern peninsula in 2016. But with the help of an MCC-supported agricultural project, St Jean du Sud is starting to recover—thanks, in part, to the generosity of the project’s participants, who are turning this project into a real-life loaves-and-fishes story.
On October 4, 2016, when Hurricane Matthew struck St Jean du Sud, Louisa Georges was in her house with her family. “I was shaking with fear,” she remembers. “All we could see was rain everywhere.”
Hurricane Matthew was a strong Category 4 hurricane when it made landfall over Haiti, the strongest hurricane to hit the country since 1964. Its wind speed was estimated at 150 miles per hour, causing high winds, heavy rainfall and deadly storm surges. In the two departments most affected by the hurricane, including St Jean du Sud, crop loss was estimated at between 90 and 100 per cent.
When Georges and her family emerged after the hurricane-force winds and rain had died down, they found almost everything they owned had been destroyed. Their house was ruined, their garden was flooded and, worst of all, all their livestock had been lost. The livestock had been the equivalent of their life savings, and without goats to sell at the market, they had lost their means to buy food to eat, pay school fees or access medical care. Like thousands of residents of southern Haiti, Georges and her family quickly found themselves in a state of crisis.