Last week workers for the Coconut Creek-based charity Food for the Poor came upon 240 people living in a cave in a mountainous area near Jérémie, Haiti. That’s on the country’s southwest peninsula, which was devastated last fall by Hurricane Matthew.
Shortly after the October's hurricane, more than 500 Haitians had been found living in caves in that region. But last week's discovery was the most troubling sign yet that post-hurricane conditions are worsening in Haiti.
“Before we discovered these people, there were 13 deaths because they were eating things that were poisonous – because of the desperation of hunger," says Food for the Poor's executive director Angel Aloma as he returned from Haiti over the weekend.
"Hurricane Matthew destroyed their crops and drowned their animals. Then they planted again, then a drought came. They’re completely desperate," he said.
Aloma said he won't be surprised if relief workers find more cave dwellers there. And he added that the continuing cave crisis means housing aid is just as important as food aid for the half million people affected in that area. He urges Americans to donate to that now since the Haitian government lacks housing resources.
“That would be a huge help to us because housing is not inexpensive, although I think we do a great price," he said. "We need to give these people sturdy homes.”
Aloma says groups like Food for the Poor can build small but sturdy single-family units in southwest Haiti for about $3,600 apiece.
Donations to Food for the Poor for food and housing for affected Haitians can be made at here.