The Words of the Phillips Family

Message from SFP President on Disaster in Haiti

Charles Phillips
January 13, 2010

Dear Friends:

I know you will have shared my sense of shock and sadness today as we gradually became increasingly aware of the extent of the devastation in Haiti. The loss of life and the destruction of schools and hospitals would be too much for any country to bear but when you also consider that Haiti was already the poorest nation in the Northern hemisphere, then the level of suffering is unimaginable.

As U.S. President Obama said this morning, "This is a time when we are reminded of the common humanity that we all share. With just a few hundred miles of ocean between us and a long history that binds us together, Haitians are neighbors of the Americas and here at home. So we have to be there for them in their hour of need." The President encouraged all Americans to support the urgent humanitarian efforts, even though America is experiencing tough economic times, and pledged to the people of Haiti that "you will have a friend and partner in the United States of America today and going forward."

Service For Peace is also determined to play a role in offering assistance. As the extent of the disaster continues to become more evident, the Service For Peace chapters in Santo Domingo and Miami are working with their Haitian contacts to assess the situation and to see where Service For Peace can best offer assistance. Both chapters have also begun collecting donations of medicine, clothing and food.

SFP is not equipped to be a first responder on a large scale but we will be looking at the long-term impacts and implications of the disaster and will act accordingly. Following the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean, SFP's Asian chapters spent a year working in Thailand focusing on the thousands of children who were orphaned by the disaster. We are considering a similar response in Haiti.

We know that there is very significant damage in the community of Jacmel on the south coast and this is where SFP proposes to focus its efforts. It is likely that most aid will go to Port Au Prince and this is appropriate. However, a BBC World Services report says that 20% of the buildings in Jacmel have been destroyed, including the hospital, and that 5,000 people are seeking shelter at the Jacmel airport.

SFP already has strong connections in Jacmel where we opened a community clinic last year. We were already planning a project there in March and this will now be part of the relief effort.

We will be keeping you updated on our efforts but, for now, we wanted to let you know of our plans and our commitment. We will provide additional information as the details become confirmed.

President Obama encouraged those Americans who want to support the urgent humanitarian efforts to go to where they can learn how to contribute.

If you would like to support SFP's efforts in Haiti, then please send donations by clicking here and specify Haiti Relief and Recovery.


Dr. Charles Phillips
International President 

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