Haiti Relief Observations
March 11- 25, 2010
A little over 2 months had passed since the devastating 7.3 earthquake first gripped Haiti centering in the middle of Port- Au-Prince, Carrefour Leogan, Jacmel. Since, many lesser quakes have continued to shake the foundation of the Nation.
Port-Au-Prince, Haiti was a city built with sand. Pre - 1/12/10 You would regularly see trucks loaded with white sand delivering into new building sites dumping their load often in the street blocking from a quarter to a half of the narrow street, making it nearly impassible. Teams of eager workers would shovel, sift the sand and mix it with cement to pour into small steel molds forming cement blocks to dry in the sun. These blocks when dry would be cement stacked into walls, and concrete floors poured on top. Every so often the builders would pour a rebar reinforced concrete pillar. The home builders would often build with cash, paying for materials when they had some cash ahead. The homes were rarely finished. The constant look was to view each home with the top floor having rebar reaching to the sky waiting for a new row of block to be laid in place.
Before the quake people were gathering into P-A-P to build homes, go to high school, college, go for medical treatment, and search for jobs even though over 60% of workers were unemployed. Land and homes in desirable areas often were priced from $75,000 for a starter home, many nice homes averaging $250,000, and the tops of the hills were covered with $million dollar mini estates.
To navigate the streets one would often have to slow way down to squeeze your way through narrow winding, hill climbing streets cluttered with pikes of sand, rock for building, trash waiting for the street sweepers to shovel into a truck. Swarms of merchants pass along, carrying their wares on their heads or seated along the narrow street displaying their small collection of goods for sale, guarding their mini market. Each vendor would mark their sales space with a towel spread on the ground and cover it with peas, vegetables, or maybe a few mangoes stacked 4 to a pyramid. The merchants had to rise early around 4AM to leave their country side garden with the day’s fresh produce and make their commute to a small spot among the Port-Au-Prince street vendors. The first arrivals would choose their market space in the public area of the street. Private property owners most all had a small markets lean-to to display their goods on a table and to shade them from the hot tropical noon day sun.
Since January 12, 2010 many things have changed while many remain the same. First about 1 in 10 in these areas hardest hit by the quakes lost their lives. Second many about ¼ to ½ of the people in these areas are now homeless. Their homes were either totally leveled by the earthquake or the structure was cracked, damaged so that the building is no longer safe and needs to be demolished and then rebuilt according to the World Standard Codes as used in the USA. These are new codes for Haitin Contractor - Engineers, with most all not educated to the new Engineering Standard and schooled knowledge is now being required to rebuild.
Most all of the central government buildings were destroyed, burying the government records under tons of rubble. Some of these records include property ownership records, birth records, passport, business licensing, administrative, legislative and judicial records. About 17% of the central government leaders perished on the job crushed and buried under the tons of government building rubble. Now most all of the facilities of the routines of family life, schooling, working, and government have to be rebuilt from the ground up.
Today the same roads and markets seem to have half the pedestrians with much more traffic of cars and trucks. UN, government organizations and Non Government Organizations NGO’s from all over the world have filled the devastated Capital City with new, Nissan, 4 wheel drive, diesel, Pathfinders paid for by public contributions or UN budgets. (Local Haitian middle class who have cars typically drive 10 -20 year + old Toyota 4 runners.) Today P-A-P is a city of NGO government. It appears that many who once crowded the open air markets and streets either perished, or moved.
Most houses, business, government building were either leveled or damaged not suitable for human occupancy. So many, beyond numbers, live in make shift shelters. The fortunate ones live in tent camps replete with chemical toilets, water
tank stations, shower stalls, etc.
These are often run by UN sponsored large to Mid size NGO’s such as World Vision, Mercy Corps, Save the Children, Samaritan’s Purse, ADRA, CRS, Samaritan’s Purse, Secours Islamique, ACDI VOCA, ACTED, Viva Rio. These organizations and staff under the weight of UN program goal responsibility, appear to be going through a transition from Compassion motivation to program administrators. The difference is that many fall through the cracks of programs where as Love Never Fails.
I had several orphanages, tent community leaders; church camp leaders approach me for help to obtain food, water, tent shelter and the basics. I showed them a map of their community showing the organizations that had the UN administration of food, water, supplies. I pointed out who to talk to about getting their share of the UN support. They told me their frustrations of either finding their offices, or talking to them to find out that supplies were gone.
Another group told me that a team of Dominicans had come to their aid with hot meals. The refugee Haitian was not familiar with the food flavors and passed their blessing along to others that were hungry. These people needed a way to obtain, purchase, work for food stuffs that they could prepare in their own camp. I promised that I would talk as a fellow NGO to try to help them get on the map with the UN sponsored teams so they too could benefit from the regular administrations.
In Haiti I called the Samaritans purse leader of food operations 3 times with my phone call dropped before I could reason with him concerning the immediate need of the orphans. The Samaritan’s purse leader responded that the third phase of the UN program, “work for food and money” would be starting in a week and it was too late to get the food from the second phase of the UN program. I never have gotten through with food or shelter to help the orphanage and church of several thousand that I had promised to assist in City Solei.
The less fortunate survivors do not have a NGO supervised tent city to live in. Many have received a donation of a Coleman tent and have pitched it in their yard, or in front of their house along the street curve. Many times they occupy half the street, blocking normal traffic flow. Those who camp in the street have gathered recycled cement block from the house rubble and laid them end to end providing a floor for their family tent. This lifts them above any water that would run under them on down the street. They’ll cover these blocks with card board or whatever to build a floor to lay their sleeping blankets. Some sleep on a Dormi Deuce which is a thick comforter that we in the cooler climate wrap up in for warm comfort.
The rain season in Haiti is the month of May. The most suffering will likely come from many who have built temporary shelters. They gather sticks from green bushes and tie them together with rags, placing both ends of these tent poles in the ground to form an arch. They’ll tie a half dozen of these in the center forming a frame to support a covering to shelter their new residence. Some cover with blue plastic tarps, and others who do not have a waterproof covering use a blanket or sheet or scrap of tin tied on to the frame of sticks. The blanket/sheet covered shelters do offer some privacy and some shelter from the sun, but offer very little relief from the anticipated rains.
One of my early child memories was camping in the rain and trying to sleep in rain soaked sleeping bag resting in a puddle of water. This was pure misery. The Haitian have had a positive spirit in spite of loosing dear family of Mothers, Fathers, children, etc in the recent quake, losing their life’s savings and possessions invested in their homes. Night after night of rain drenching their every fiber of being could be enough to break the tormented spirit of any people.
I had privilege to visit and take food to several orphanages, to distribute 35 activated cell phones to Family Outreach volunteers, to attend many UN cluster meetings concerning Food, Early Recovery, Wash water and sanitation, Agriculture, and most issues facing Haitian recovery. I attended the cluster meetings searching for sources of finance, supplies, information, materials to assist the many orphanages, clinics, schools, churches, people who look to Family Outreach for help. A person could spend their whole day every day attending the many meetings. These meetings seemed to be full of talk with the real money sources for partner collaborators hidden several layers of bureaucracy away.
I was privileged to stay with a good family friend. He was once Rose’s driver when she operated the Good Samaritan orphanage and hospital pre 1989. Since them God has chosen him as a special vessel with Spiritual gifts of hospitality and giving. God has blessed his Stevedoring business so he can assist the Kingdom. he received me as a King and prepared the finest Haitian cuisine, air conditioned room in his home, bug spray, jeep with a driver.
Both Sundays, I was blessed to visit 2 churches and preach for them. One church group led by Pastor Lyonel Joseph had fled the earthquake destruction around their church at Delmas 9, and moved 2 ½ hours away into the countryside They have a cozy compound comprising of tents and block buildings with tin roofs for dormitories, toilets, trucked in tank water supply, kitchen and eating areas. They worship under a big top tent with side tarps surrounding the area to provide shade for the over flow seating about 2,000. I have heard that God has raised a donor for a new tent that they’ll own as well as a well driller to punch in a reliable continuous source of water. The people all need gainful employment as they all depend on donations of food and water to survive.
We had an outstanding move of the spirit as the young people’s choir sang. God was present to comfort his displaced survivors. After this rich out pouring of the Holy Spirit they invited me to speak. It was a blessing to present the Gospel to these victorious displaced survivors. This church affiliation of The Body of Christ has about 30,000 members in Haiti only reported about 40 people dead or missing since the earthquake.
The second Sunday I was able to visit Pastor Forge’s Church on the Rock in Tabarre. They have been displaced from their church building and meet across the highway in a vacant lot. There they rent several large tents to house about 6,000 worshipers over 2 Sunday services. They too have overflow seating under temporary blue or grey plastic tarps held aloft by stick poles secured with twine. This church has trained 6 different worship teams. Young people flock to hear the dynamic worship music. While I was there I felt overwhelmed with God’s presence to heal his people. I saw one man who came forward for prayer throw his crutches to the ground and walk back to his seat. I went home fulfilled seeing the Salvation of God among His people.
They always have fed the neighborhood poor, provided well water and electricity generated from the church‘s diesel power plant. Now they have inherited about 300 orphan children that are resident under the tents and play in the same vacant lot. They need a building, beds, schooling and so much more for these orphans. They have received some UN aid to feed, and are beginning the UN money and food for work program. A Church from Douglasville, GA is shipping them a large tent for worship.
They have started a clinic using some of the 25 pallets of medical supplies that we had airlifted early in the crisis. The clinic is run out of a donated kaki green tent. It looks like a MASH TV Show Clinic. They faithfully disbursed the surplus supplies to area hospitals and clinics.
I passed out many bottle of SilverDYNE to leaders instructing the people how to place one drop from the squeeze bottle into a drinking container of untreated water, Wait 30 minutes and you can drink secure in knowing that the water is now Safe to drink, One orphanage immediately after hearing the benefit, topped the young lady carrying 2-5 gallon buckets and treated the water. We need more SilverDyne to hand out and to train sales staff to sell it so people who live by the rivers have the option to drink treated water.
This Orphanage home to about 16 teens needs complete furnishings for their home. Beds, mattress, table, chairs, desk, computer, kitchen utensils, etc. They are in constant prayer for a bag of rice, beans and other basic staples. I promised to assist when our 38 pallets of rice mix hit’s the shore. One generous donor could make a big difference for this small orphanage family.
Another orphanage I was privilege to visit and take cases of jars of baby food was located in the country outside of Port-Au-Prince surrounding La Plane in Santos. They are guests on 7 fertile acres with well, partially finished with roof, 6 room
school, home foundation laid with building blocks ready for the block layers. Many of the 300 orphans sleep in 2 tents. Many need beds and many beds need mattress. One local business man has taken an interest in this orphanage and bought those about 10 bags of rice, beans, etc. After we left I heard that armed robbers came into their storehouse and store the children’s rice, shooting one man in the leg.
This orphanage was displaced during the collapse of their building. The resident Pastor lost his wife in the quake while rescuing children. Another adult worker who was the business man’s sister also perished in the orphanage rubble along with nearly a dozen orphan children.
The current 7 acre site is an ideal location to raise children. The farm land is rich; they have a well, and a block building. It is ready to be blessed. It is for sale for only $72,000 as the current owner of the property is willing to walk away from his plans to build a new home there in favor of the children having a new home. This is a donors dream to be able to play such a big role in the lives of so many children
Today I am in Atlanta and the remaining Haitian survivors are flourishing under extremely challenging conditions, living in Hope. I may be the only voice they have that you can hear.
Remember your brethren in Haiti.
Prov. 22:2 The rich and poor meet together, the Lord is the maker of them both.
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Richard and Rose Edkins