Praying for a box of cornflakes

Help and hope come to those in Haiti whose lives were shaken in the August earthquake through Compassion’s local church partners.

Haiti is no stranger to environmental disasters, but the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck the country’s southwest on August 14, 2021 seemed particularly cruel. Five years earlier, the same communities were torn apart by Hurricane Matthew. The country is still reeling from a presidential assassination in July. This political turmoil, coupled with severe poverty, gang violence and Tropical Storm Grace – which unleashed 10 inches of rain on the region just 48 hours after the earthquake – created another crisis for the country. An estimated 800,000 people have been impacted by the earthquake, 40 percent of whom are children. 

Thousands lost homes, livelihoods and loved ones to the rubble. Ana and Soraya are two of those who lost their homes. They escaped with their lives but now face homelessness. 

“When my mom came to pick me up [from the church], I asked her if our house fell down. She said our house collapsed,” says Soraya, twisting her hands together as she speaks. Soraya’s “mom” is her grandmother Ana, the only mother she has known. 

Ana will never forget that morning. It was just before 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, August 14. Ana was walking down the wide, dusty road toward her front gate. Perhaps she was thinking about chores, or breakfast, or six-year-old Soraya, whom she had just dropped off at the Compassion centre. She certainly wasn’t thinking that, in the next few minutes, their lives would change forever. She reached the gate, took a step forward and the ground began to shake violently.

Before her eyes, a gaping hole appeared in the wall and rubble spilled onto the ground like crumbs. She stumbled backwards. In front of her, the first floor of her home collapsed in on itself like a house made of cards. In one moment, Ana and Soraya lost everything. Thankfully, Soraya was safe at the Compassion centre and Ana was still making her way home when the earthquake struck.

“After the earthquake, our house was completely destroyed. It was no longer safe to live there,” Ana said, three days after the quake. “Soraya and I were at the church at the time of the earthquake, so we were safe, but we weren’t able to get any of our belongings, including food to eat.” They returned to the Compassion centre for temporary shelter. “That is when Soraya told me that she had prayed to God for a box of cornflakes, her favorite cereal,” Ana said. “I was amazed to see that prayer become a reality.” The first box of emergency food that Soraya opened had a red box of cornflakes.  

With Jesus, hope. With his church, help.

Following the earthquake, the Compassion centre provided emergency food packs, like the one that contained Soraya’s favourite cereal. Since then, Compassion’s local church partners across southwestern Haiti have been doing likewise – providing shelter, food and medical care through the generous donations of Compassion supporters. They are best positioned to know and meet the needs of the children they serve because they are present and will remain present throughout the country’s recovery. 

A girl opens a box of cornflakes.
Cornflakes for Soraya.

“With Jesus, I have hope,” says Ana. “And I feel grateful because my community, Compassion, my church, my pastor and God are all there to help me.”

Soraya and Ana’s home was one of the 12,000 homes of Compassion-assisted children and their families that were destroyed or significantly damaged this summer. It is a great need. Each one of these families have their own story of loss. But there is great hope. There is hope because the Church can rise up to meet this need and be the faithful presence of Jesus in times of crisis. The Church can bring help and hope to those whose lives have been shaken. 

Soraya and her grandmother face a long road of heartache and recovery. But even something simple like one cereal box can be a reminder that God sees and hears them, and that the Church loves them.

Photos by Erick Jura.

Video link.


  • Rebekah Malbrecht

    Rebekah Malbrecht is a Content Specialist at Compassion Canada. She loves to wrestle with words, shape stories and document happiness. You're bound to find her where there are books, people and birthday cake.

  • Erick Jura

    Erick Jura is Compassion International’s Photojournalist in Haiti.

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