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22 January 2010

Norwich church to help Haiti earthquake victims

Norwich church to help Haiti earthquake victims

By Keith Morris, Network Norwich

A Norwich church has committed itself to helping, praying for and raising money for earthquake victims in Haiti after one of its members recently returned from helping to build an orphanage and hospital in the stricken country.  

Last Sunday (January 17), Norwich Gateway Vineyard church dedicated its whole Sunday service to Haiti, led by member Annie Rangecroft (pictured right in Haiti). Annie is a senior paediatric physiotherapist at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, who has recently been in the earthquake-struck country, and by the end of the service £2500 had been raised.  

Annie, aged 28, and some others from Gateway met a couple who are establishing a hospital and orphanage in Haiti at New Wine in 2008. Since then Annie has been out twice, the last time for six weeks in the autumn.  

Gateway church leader, Hannah Deal, said: "We have previously given money to build furniture suitable for the physical development of children with disabilities who Annie met on her first visit and pray for the work.   "When the earthquake happened we felt it right to respond. Since January we have started a new series on Sundays called' Is your gospel too small?' Looking at the life of Jesus and how his message was life and community transforming and yet so often we've watered it down. The earthquake gave us an immediate opportunity to act.  

"Last Sunday Annie shared about Haiti, the county, the people, the poverty and the hospital and orphanage and the work they are doing post earthquake. We spent time praying for the people and took an offering. So far we will be able to send around £2500.   Annie returned twice to Haiti last year to continue the work at the hospital and help families learn to live with disabilities."

The hospital, about 70 miles north of Port-au-Prince where the earthquake struck, is not open yet but is now being used to treat earthquake refugees seeking urgent medical treatment.   Annie's friends who run the hospital have told her it is a "living hell" in Haiti. "They have made the hospital ready to treat injured people and more are turning up each day," she said. "The staff are doing what they can but many have children missing themselves.

"It is absolutely heartbreaking to see what is happening out there. Before the earthquake people were living in the most basic conditions but now it is unthinkable what is happening to them.

"People live in primitive shacks surrounded by waste and rubble, most do not work and 98pc of the country has been deforested. It is extremely depressing. And roads are barely-constructed and full of pot-holes so it takes ages to travel anywhere, which is why it must be such a struggle to get aid to them."

Haiti's government has been plagued by corruption since the beginning of its existence, and voodoo - comprising black magic curses - makes up much of the substance of Haitian religion.

It is partially due to this religion that so many disabled children are abandoned because many regard them as "evil" or "cursed" and families are scared to care for them.

Annie said: "There have been a lot of sleepless nights and tears since the earthquake. To know a country so well and to have friends out there makes it so close to home and I will do anything I can to help.

"I am desperate to go back out there but it is hard because I have a full-time job. Perhaps when the chaos has died down a bit and patients will need rehabilitation I will go back and use my physiotherapy skills.

"Most families live on less than one dollar a day, but they are the most genuine, caring people I have ever met.   "It is difficult to see how such a destitute country can survive this earthquake but I hope it has made the world sit up and take notice of how much help these people need."  

More info on the Haiti Hospital Appeal

For more stories from Norwich visit Network Norwich