After 14 years we have stopped shipping containers of goods to Haiti. The reasons are increasing ridiculously high import duties by the Haitian government, fewer available funds, and volunteers are getting ever older. By far the main reason is the duties charged. Earlier container costs were reasonable, but the last two containers were unreasonable in costs . The last container costs were–$1,300 for paper work plus another $8,000 in duties all in US dollars. Adding in our shipping costs put the total at C$29,455.00. The value of the goods still exceeded the costs, but money and time are now not well spent. Over the years these goods helped the people in Haiti in many diverse ways.
The main item shipped was clothing. In total close to one million pieces of clothing were shipped. Also lots of shoes, kitchen items, (including over 1,000 lbs. of cutlery, over several containers), toiletries for hygiene, school supplies, bedding, sewing machines and material, tools, chairs, sleeping mats, wood for rebuilding and many other useful items. The goods were especially appreciated after a weather disaster. A side benefit of handing out goods was the people would then listen to any Christian message given. The voodoo priests made many demands, but the Christians just gave things away. This did not go unnoticed. The largest items shipped were diesel truck engines and a small bulldozer used to clear earthquake ravaged yards. These items certainly helped many people survive better. We thank you for your donation of goods and funds making the shipments possible
From 1994 to 2004 our society was basically project orientated. Pastor Benoit would make a request and the board would deliberate over it and send funds as per their wishes and ability. Things took a turn in September 4th when a tropical storm, the likes of which they had not seen in 40 years, hit northern Haiti and sent 7 feet of water came rushing into the city of Gonaives. Our society felt that we could not sit idly by and not try to help our brothers and sisters in dire need. We gathered goods together and sent our first container (20ft) in January 5th. We barely had enough to fill. The following year we repeated those efforts. While we had sent a few skids of goods down with our Armed forces when they were part of a U.N. peacekeeping contingent, these 2 – 20 footers were the start of a humanitarian side to our society. The following year we managed to fill a 40ft and all subsequent containers have been 40ft, with the last seven or eight being hi-cube—an extra foot higher or 13% more.
In September 2008, another severe storm hit Gonnaives and the water rose to 9ft this time. Although levels were higher than the first, less lives were lost due to experience. Our response was to send a second container that fall. This was repeated in 2009. I will include here that we also shipped separately a huge D-8 bulldozer in the fall of 2008, which cost the society approx $85,000 CAD, landed but yielded the Lutheran Church of Haiti over $400,000 US dollars in revenue. January 12, 2010 while brothers Wally and Howard Bogusat along with another person were in the city, the earthquake struck Port-au-Prince and the surrounding area. The societies response that year was to send three containers. We swore never to do that again as we wanted to remain retired. The years 2011 thru 2017 saw two per year shipped, one in the spring and one in the fall. Various organizations were used to handle the ingress of our container with the government recognizing our humanitarian efforts. That changed in the fall of 2017, they began treating our goods as goods to be resold. These duties almost doubled the costs for our society and it has been decided to end container shipping.
In the end 25 containers were shipped!! Were they to be all stretched out they would take up 960 feet (almost a fifth of a mile) all stuffed with good used items.