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Saturday, May 28, 2022

One year ago, Kevin Smith stood on a soccer field in Haiti surrounded by running children and makeshift tents.

Smith, the director of emergency disaster services for the Salvation Army of Florida, flew to Haiti the day after the earthquake with about 3,000 pounds of supplies in tow. 

“The most shocking observation I had was just the magnitude of need,” he said. “I’ve never seen need as bad or as great as it was in Haiti.”

A year later, the Salvation Army continues to provide relief efforts in Haiti. The organization has provided aid there since the 1950s, running clinics for first-aid treatment and schools to educate locals.

In the past year, the Salvation Army has provided about 27,000 clinic visits, 7.9 million meals, 606 transitional shelters and 1.5 million gallons of water to the Haitian people, among other services, according to a press release.

It has also raised $10.8 million through worldwide affiliates as well as $29 million via domestic resources.

Of these funds, 50 percent has been used for immediate response projects, while the rest will be used for more long-term recovery plans.

While the Florida division of the Salvation Army is no longer involved in the daily Haiti relief plans, it still provides support by using its Miami base to funnel supplies and by passing on local donations earmarked for Haiti.

Sky Georges, president of Gators United for Haiti, visited the country last September and was overwhelmed by the amount of need he saw there.

“It’s too much. How does anyone know where to start and how to get anything done effectively that’s going last through the ages?” he said. “It starts by having people who are passionate [and] who have a desire to see Haitian people prosper … for real change to start taking place.”

While immediate relief efforts included sending task forces like Smith’s to Haiti and using volunteers to create food bags for survivors, the organization is now able to focus on more long-term goals. Its clinics continue to provide medical treatment for survivors, including follow-up visits for those who underwent surgery following the earthquake.

Meanwhile, the organization has plans to rebuild its infrastructure within Haiti so it will be prepared for future problems, Smith said.

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“It could happen again tomorrow. It could be a flood, it could be the cholera outbreaks,” he said. “We feel it’s the proper investment to re-establish that infrastructure that was here year-round [before the earthquake].”

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