Bishops’ Storehouse Blesses Lives in Haiti
By Jason Swensen, Church News contributor
In January of 2010, a massive earthquake staggered this island nation, claiming more than 300,000 lives and leaving millions more without immediate access to food, clean water, and safe shelter.
The Church responded immediately, dispatching dozens of truckloads of food and other lifesaving provisions to help sustain the Haitian members and their neighbors. Welfare officials also enlisted medical and social work professionals and volunteers to help care for the quake’s many victims.
Many of the immediate needs following the historic disaster have been largely met, but the Church continues to provide assistance to those members struggling to feed and care for their families.
A simple, efficient LDS bishops’ storehouse operates in the Freres community of this bustling capital city. The brown stucco structure opened last year and offers local priesthood leaders a resource to help meet the essential needs of their members.
The storehouse is managed by Berthony Theodore, a convert who learned firsthand the value of the Church’s welfare efforts in the aftermath of a catastrophe. In the late morning hours of January 12, 2010, Brother Theodore was attending a college class in Port-au-Prince when the ground began shaking violently. Leaving his books behind, he made a desperate dash for the exit doors before the walls of his school collapsed.
“I ran out just in time,” he said.
In the days and weeks that followed, he witnessed many of his fellow Haitians being sustained and blessed, thanks to the welfare relief made possible by the generosity of fellow members worldwide. His own deep testimony of caring for others in need is manifested within the walls of Haiti’s only bishops’ storehouse.
The storehouse is stocked with staples that define the Haitian diet—beans, rice, canned seafood, cooking oil, and other basics. Such provisions are generally purchased within Haiti, helping support the local economy. The storehouse is also stocked with kits stuffed with essential household items such as cups, utensils, and a small broom.
Haiti’s only bishops’ storehouse was opened in 2012 in the Freres neighborhood of Port-au-Prince.
Each week, bishops from across the country arrive at the storehouse and collect items to be delivered to their members in greatest need. Provident living remains the ultimate goal here, said Brother Theodore. The storehouse items are designed to help families make do until they are able to provide for themselves.
A new stake center is being constructed just a few yards from the Haiti bishops’ storehouse in Port-au-Prince.
Haiti’s bishops’ storehouse is built on Church-owned property that will soon be meeting both the temporal and spiritual needs of the local members. A new stake center is being built just a few yards away from the storehouse and is expected to be dedicated later this year. The meetinghouse is expected to be a gathering place where Haitian Latter-day Saints can worship together.