Prayers, Fasting Mark Haiti Quake's One-Month Anniversary

( [email protected] ) Feb 12, 2010 01:17 PM EST

Haitians are fasting and taking part in prayer vigils to mark one month since a devastating earthquake struck the Caribbean nation on January 12.

As the Haiti government revised the death toll from last month's earthquake to at least 217,000, Friday was declared a day of mourning.

According to the results of a new World Vision survey, 92 percent of survivors in devastated capital Port-au-Prince have lost a loved one.

Survey results were based on the experiences of 150 people across three sites in Port-au-Prince where the Christian humanitarian organization is aiding survivors.

Of those surveyed, 49 percent said they had lost an extended family member, while 43 percent had lost a member of their immediate family.

The Christian aid agency said the quake response needed to deal with more than just the material needs of survivors and help them come to terms with their grief.

World Vision’s emergency specialist, Joanna Trevor, said Haiti was a nation in mourning.

"The effects of trauma on an individual can be devastating in the long term but when it’s on the scale that we’re seeing in Haiti, the country’s recovery is under threat," she said. “The focus now has to be on helping men, women and children to begin to cope with their loss."

“Simple things done now can make all the difference," she added. “Giving children and families the opportunity to grieve, to establish a routine, and to access the basics – food, water, shelter – are all critical steps in this process."

Billions of dollars worth of aid have flowed into the island nation in response to the tragedy. Christian aid agency Tearfund warned that survivors still have very little in basic necessities.

Tearfund partner the Federation of Protestant Schools of Haiti is launching the SOS Project to help meet the basic needs of 3,000, including 1,800 children.

Meanwhile, clean water experts working in Haiti are racing against the clock to prevent more deaths.

“More Haitians could die in the aftermath than from the quake itself without ongoing access to safe water and sanitation solutions,” said Molly Greene, founder of Christian engineering relief and development organization Water Missions International. “Our team is busy installing and training local people to operate our long-lasting solar-powered water treatment units, each able to provide the daily water needs of 3,000 people for at least the next 20 years."

Water Missions International began working in Haiti in 2004 to provide clean water in a country where some 97 percent lacked access to it. Following the devastation, the organization has tripled its work in the country to install 64 water treatment systems, which would supply the daily water needs of more than 300,000 Haitians – the equivalent of delivering 2.8 million bottles of water every day for the next two decades.

Water Missions International works with other Christian relief organizations, including Samaritan’s Purse and Operation Blessing, to provide immediate and long-term access to clean water – and the “living” water – in disaster areas like Haiti.