Today Nick and I drove over the mountains to Leogane. It’s been the first time we’ve been over the mountains since the quake. We’d heard Leogane was bad. Wow. Didn’t quite expect HOW bad it was. You see, I have heard in Jacmel that around 50% of homes were destroyed. But that’s kind of a deceiving statistic as much of the major damage was in a few pockets. In these pockets, nearly EVERY house is destroyed but outside of those pockets, it’s not nearly as bad. Estimates for Leogane say that there is somewhere between 80-90% of homes are destroyed. Seeing what I saw today I would say that is VERY possible. The WHOLE city is in shambles. It’s not just in pockets. Downtown, uptown, in town, outskirts of town. It’s a MESS. All of it.
Even so, the people of Leogane continue to march on. There is a lot of aid we could see on the ground and things seemed to be running very smoothly. The streets were all cleared and swept. There were even women spreading water over the roads nearly continuously to keep the dust down. The main refugee camp was well organized. There were no tents—it was all makeshift, semi-permanent structures organized into sections. It’s still not great. I mean come on, it’s a refugee camp. People have lost everything. They still have many needs that are not being met. But they continue with their lives with a tenacity I just can’t explain.
We’d love continued prayers for the situation in Haiti. It’s out of the front pages now, but the need will continue for months and years, possibly decades, to come. Pray for continued provision. Pray for our families as we adjust to our new normal. But most of all, please pray that we would daily turn our hearts towards God—the giver of all good things.
Yesterday Leann and I headed over to the large refugee camp that’s now a part of our community. As difficult as it was to see, it was a good visit. We talked and played with a lot of different kids. It was kind of surreal. In so many ways it was business as usual. The kids were still just kids. They were laughing and joking and playing. Some were making kites, some were using sticks to build model houses, some were playing clapping hand games. Almost all of them wanted their pictures taken.
But when I took a step back—it made my heart grieve all the more because I knew th reality of the situation. Amongst the happy children there were deperate parents. Two specific parents who were hopeless enough to offer me two of their children then and there because they just weren’t sure how they were going to move on.
There was this other mother there. She was the mother of a very small six month old baby. Her baby was sick. Very sick. The baby had her face winced in pain the whole time I was there, but she could not cry louder than just a tiny, tiny whimper. She was obviously dehydrated. I asked the mother what kind of symptoms she’d been having and she said the baby has been throwing up and having diarrhea for several days. I asked if she’d taken the baby to the medical tent located in the center of the camp. She said that she hadn’t because there were always so many people there. She didn’t want to wait in line. I begged her to take the baby the next day. I told her if she didn’t want to wait in line she should get there very early. She said she could go, “demen si dye vle” (tomorrow if God wills). I plan to check on her tomorrow. I can’t stop thinking about her.
There ware an estimated 6,000 homeless people living in this camp. SIX THOUSAND! In a city of about 35,000 that’s a staggering amount. Where do you go from here?
God save Haiti. You’re the only one who can.
The world has come together to reach out to the earthquake victims in Haiti — and yet so much more needs to be done to ease the enormous suffering. Food For The Poor’s feeding center in Port-au-Prince is operational again, feeding thousands of people each day, but we need more funds to ship lifesaving food and clean water to benefit the countless families struggling to survive. Tent cities, some with more than 50,000 people, are scattered throughout the city and lack the basic necessities such as food and water.
The process of recovery in Haiti will be long and difficult. That’s why your continued support is so crucial to the relief efforts.
Please continue to keep Haiti in your prayers. Thank you for your compassion and generosity.
Day to day the needs seem to change on the ground here in Jacmel. We’ve spent the last few days working tirelessly getting food out into the hands of the people. We don’t spend a whole lot of time reading the news, (mostly because we don’t have the time to do so,) but today I saw a story on CNN.com about thousands of people crowding two trucks of rice that was being distributed. It was a first come first served situation and it was chaos. The UN ended up having to spray the crowd with pepper spray to control them. One Haitian man being interviewed said something like, “we’ve lost everything—our homes, our families… and now our dignity.”
The truth is, that’s not the kinds of things we’re seeing here in Jacmel. We’re seeing hungry people. We’re seeing desperate people. We’ve even seen a few demonstrations that you might call a riot. But that is the exception. In so many ways, people are moving on. The tenacity if the Haitian people is awe-inspiring. We’re desperately searching out normalcy for our family as well. We took all the kids to the beach yesterday as that was a pretty regular thing in our house pre-earthquake. It was good. But it was still weird.
As a ministry we’ve been focusing on distrubuting large quantities of food to the people of Jacmel through their pastors. Yesterday we moved over 15 tons in/out of our warehouse. ALL BY HAND. We’re tired. Today is a bit different, because we’re out of food. Not sure what this is going to mean quite yet. The good news is that there IS food to be had in Jacmel right now and the larger governmental organizations are starting larger scale distribution. It would seem God is leading us to refocus once again and figure out how to best serve families in our community. Lots of ideas swirling around, but nothing definite yet. Today we’re going to try to breathe a little bit and invite God’s rest to inhabit us and strengthen us.
We are still all sleeping in tents outside. Our house doesn’t appear to have any major damage, but we’re still nervous. We continue to have strong aftershocks and have been hearing that we may continue to feel them for months to come. They are unnerving. We have a team of structural engineers coming in tomorrow to check on all our buildings. I think once that’s happened we might be able to start the process of moving back indoors. Well, maybe.
We’re so thankful for the prayers on behalf of our family and our ministry, Joy in Hope. I am thankful that God positioned us where we are at this time to be able to walk through this, but it is stretching us beyond what we thought we could bear.
As you continue to pray, please lift up our families. Our orphanages are not traditional orphanages. They are families. Large families. And all of our family members are experiencing grief, loss, anxiety, fear and dozens of other emotions… We need prayers for the ability to walk our children through the chaos that has become their lives.
To learn more about Joy in Hope please visit http://www.joyinhope.org/earthquake/index.html
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – As international relief groups rush to Haiti following the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake in its capital city, MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) has a permanent presence there, positioning the organization to fulfill a unique role in the distribution of earthquake aid.
Currently MAF is serving an essential role in coordinating arrival and distribution of relief through its hangar at the Port-au-Prince international airport. Its staff is well positioned to assist the media with up-to-date information and interviews in covering the Haiti disaster.
MAF, a Christian missionary organization that provides air transportation, communications, technology and education specialists to support missionary efforts and humanitarian needs in hard-to-reach areas of the world, has served the people of Haiti since 1986. MAF knows Haitian culture, language, people and geography.
Seven MAF missionary families, seven national staff members, and three aircraft have served 16 airstrips from a base of operations in Port-au-Prince.
• As MAF’s role in the rescue and recovery operations involves helping many international relief agencies and humanitarian organizations that have arrived in the country coordinate their operations, MAF can give an overview to the media concerning these efforts.
• MAF is setting up a critically important GATR VSAT emergency communications system that will provide high-bandwidth communications for relief workers at the Port-au-Prince airport. MAF also provided this critical satellite telephone and Internet access service through the inflatable, deployable satellite communications system for FEMA and other workers when Hurricane Ike hit Texas in 2008.
• Disaster response is an MAF area of expertise. In past disaster situations, including the Indonesian Tsunami of 2004, Hurricane Felix and Cyclone Sidr in 2007, and the Haitian hurricanes of 2008, MAF provided communications systems, delivered relief supplies, transported medical teams and assisted humanitarian organizations in reaching people and areas that had been otherwise cut off from assistance.
Founded in the U.S. in 1945, MAF (www.maf.org<http://www.maf.org/>) missionary teams of aviation, communications, technology and education specialists overcome barriers in remote areas, transform lives and build God’s Kingdom by enabling the work of more than 1,000 organizations in isolated areas of the world. With its fleet of 55 bush aircraft – including the new KODIAK – MAF serves in 31 countries, with an average of 101 flights daily across Africa, Asia, Eurasia and Latin America. MAF pilots transport missionaries, medical personnel, medicines and relief supplies, as well as conduct thousands of emergency medical evacuations in remote areas. MAF also provides telecommunications services, such as satellite Internet access, high-frequency radios, electronic mail and other wireless systems.
Youth With A Mission – YWAM, in partnership with the Mennonite Central Committee – MCC, will be collecting donations for the Haiti earthquake victims. The goal is to provide Relief Kits, sheets, blankets, and comforters that will be sent to earthquake victims in Haiti. MCC is asking for donations of 10,000 comforters and 10,000 flatsheets as part of its response to the Haiti earthquake. In addition, donations of 20,000 Relief Kits, are requested. Relief Kits and blankets provide valuable supplies to families traumatized by the earthquake.
For information about a sending a donation or making a Relief Kit, or specific details about blankets and comforters you can contact us at: Youth With A Mission, 1275 Birch Road, Lebanon PA 17042. Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone: 717.274.9010
Cornerstone Christian Church in Duncannon, PA is joining the efforts of earthquake relief in Haiti by collecting items to aid the country. More information for donations we are collecting is available on their website www.cornerstone-efca.com.
MCC sends structural engineers to assess soundness of homes in Haiti
By Linda Espenshade
Jan. 22, 2010
AKRON, Pa. — Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is sending three structural engineers to Haiti on Saturday Jan. 23, for one to four weeks.
The engineers will examine houses and other buildings to determine if they are in danger of collapse or if they are safe for occupation. Currently many Haitians are sleeping on the streets or in open areas because they don’t feel safe in their homes.
“People are scared to go back in their buildings without someone looking at them to be sure they are sound,” said Ron Flaming, director of international programs for MCC.
Leading the engineering team for MCC is Johann Zimmermann, a licensed structural engineer from Harrisonburg, Va., who served with MCC in Burkina Faso, Mozambique and Nicaragua. He attends Community Mennonite Church, Harrisonburg.
He will be joined by Peter Pereverzoff of Rochester, N.Y., and Marcus Schiere, from the Netherlands.
Zimmermann, who is self employed and a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, said he was motivated to go to Haiti as he thought about the safety of the people. From his personal experience of living through an earthquake in Central America, he understands the uncertainty that survivors feel.
“You’re afraid. Am I safe or not?” said Zimmermann, explaining the uncertainty. “It’s really anxiety producing. If you have children, you are worried about them more than you are about yourself.”
In Haiti, Zimmermann hopes to work alongside Haitian builders because they are the ones most familiar with the local building techniques. He would like to teach them how to assess the structural soundness of buildings, so the work can continue after he and the other engineers are gone.
The engineers’ task involves a significant element of judgment and probability, Zimmermann said. They will look at the way cracks in houses were formed to determine if they are only aesthetic or if the house is in danger of falling down.
In anticipation of sending a second crew of structural engineers, MCC is inviting people who would be willing to volunteer for two to four weeks to send an e-mail to Jan Siemens in human resources, email@example.com.
In addition to engineers, MCC is recruiting a disaster coordinator to lead MCC’s earthquake relief and rebuilding efforts over the next three to five years in Haiti. For a complete job description and contact information, visit mcc.org/work/positions/haiti-disaster-coordinator.