KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Friday marked eight years since a massive earthquake shook the small island nation of Haiti.
On the eve of the anniversary, President Trump sent shock waves of his own, allegedly calling Haiti and a handful of other nations "s***hole countries" and saying he'd rather welcome immigrants from better countries, like Norway.
Many local churches and organizations have strong ties to the countries Trump spoke against, including Haiti.
Pastor Victor Borden is proud of the work his church continues to do in Haiti.
"These kids are now alive and growing and thriving. They're well fed. They're educated," Borden said.
Through a nonprofit that Red Bridge Baptist Church started called Haiti Home of Hope, hundreds of orphans and their families have been nurtured and cared for.
"It will change your life when you go there and serve in some capacity because it gives you a great appreciation for what we have here, of course," Borden said. "And it gives you great appreciation for the struggle people there are going through, and how as best as they can, they are eking out an existence. So you have respect for them."
Although major infrastructure is better, there are still plenty of signs of the earthquake from eight years ago.
Borden said the resilience of the Haitian people in their day-to-day struggle to live is humbling, and despite their circumstances, there is still immense joy and hope.
So when President Trump apparently called the country a less-than-desirable place, many in Kansas City felt disheartened. Borden believes bonds formed with Haitians are valuable to us all.
"We are absolutely better because of it," he said.
The church said if anything good comes of Trump's comments, it's bringing attention to Haiti once again. Borden said his congregation remains committed to Haiti and improving the lives of all those there. If you'd like to help their efforts, learn more here.
Heart to Heart International, based in Lenexa, has also done extensive work with Haiti. CEO Jim Mitchum released the following statement late Friday:
"Heart to Heart International is sending this letter out to Kansas and Missouri senators and other state department officials regarding the recent discussions going on throughout the country.
"In light of the recent national discourse around some of the world’s poorest countries, we at Heart to Heart International felt compelled to share our unique perspective on the nation of Haiti and its people.
"As a global humanitarian aid organization, we respond to needs and disasters all around the world. After responding to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, we established Heart to Heart International–Haiti and have developed a close relationship with the people of Haiti. This branch of our organization provides essential medical care and is now run exclusively by Haitian citizens in Haiti. After Hurricane Matthew in 2016, they proved so effective at treating patients, particularly those suffering from cholera, that their work was funded in part by USAID.
"When Hurricane Maria devastated the US territory of Puerto Rico in September of 2017, Heart to Heart International responded with teams of medical volunteers from both the US and Haiti. The Haitian doctors and nurses delivered exemplary medical care while working side-by-side with our US medical teams. The 10-member Haitian team concentrated their efforts in the hardest-hit, most difficult-to-reach areas in order to deliver care to people no one else had helped.
"The two and a half months spent away from homes, families and personal lives is but one example of the dedication these men and women showed to the well-being of Puerto Ricans in need. With skill and ingenuity, these professionals crafted relationships with US officials, religious leaders and local government representatives and were able to treat more than 2,600 US citizens.
"This team of Haitian medical professionals was one of the most successful teams Heart to Heart International has ever sent into a disaster area. They exemplified the creativity, compassion and hard work that has always been a hallmark of Heart to Heart International’s humanitarian and disaster responses around the world. We could not be more proud of our team of Haitian doctors, nurses and logistics personnel, and feel that the rest of the United States should be made aware of the incredible work they have done on behalf of United States citizens.
"During this time, as countries like Haiti are publicly demeaned and maligned, we felt it was important to highlight the successes and accomplishments of these incredibly talented Haitians. We at Heart to Heart International have the privilege of knowing these women and men; we believe the world needs to know them too."