Despite their dire conditions and empty stomachs, about 240 people living inside a cave in the rugged mountains in Haiti’s southern peninsula were singing joyful hymns. And their voices led a team from Food For The Poor right to them.
Now the starving parents and children are receiving food and other essential items from the Coconut Creek-based charity, said Robin Mahfood, president and CEO of Food For The Poor.
The group, which include 84 women and 62 children, have been living in the cave near Fonds Rouge Dahere since they sought shelter from Hurricane Matthew when it pummeled the island in October. They were discovered by the charity’s agricultural director on Wednesday.
Trucks from the charity’s warehouse in Port-au-Prince delivered goods to the families on Thursday. Initial relief included food, blankets, hygiene kits, kerosene stoves and tarps.
Food For The Poor also launched a campaign to build homes for these destitute families.
“They have no food, they have no water, they have no shelter. They are sleeping on the ground in a cave. It really is a crime against humanity,” said Mahfood. “We are working on the next steps to bring them out of these horrible conditions.”
The New York Times reported last fall that more than 500 people were found taking refuge in caves near Lacadonie in southwest Haiti after Hurricane Matthew scoured the area with 145 mph winds last October, destroying their homes.
Despite the deplorable conditions, darkness and humidity, the people said they were thankful for the caves because they were the only shelter they had. “It is our house that God created when we most needed it,” one of the hundreds of villagers told the New York Times.
Those families have since moved on and those caves are now empty, Food For The Poor said.
This latest crisis comes on the heels of a severe food shortage in the Grand’Anse region of southwest Haiti. The crisis is so severe that Food For The Poor staff have seen starving families turn in desperation to fruits and plants known to be poisonous in an attempt to quell their hunger.
Last week, the charity announced it was sending an additional 100 containers of food a month for the next four months to keep people from starving in the area.
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SOURCE: Sun-Sentinel, by Rebeca Piccardo