Google+ WTN Haiti Partnership: Update from Haiti Outreach Ministries

Monday, January 25, 2010

Update from Haiti Outreach Ministries

This is an update from Bill Glass/Leon Dorleans of Haiti Outreach Ministries which works in Cite Soleil, Blanchard, Repatriote and Ibo Beach in the PAP area. They have three schools, two clinics and four churches. Bonnie Elam and I have worked with them for many years.

- Chris Northup

I spoke with Leon last night on Skype. There was another significant aftershock yesterday. He said that, not surpriginly, everyone is afraid to go into buildings. The damage to our facilities is greater than initially thought. Azt Blanchard, the storage building - the one with the solar panels on top - has been seriously weakened. My read of the pix is that the corners - which provide the strength - are badly damaged. While the walls - blocks - are bad enough in terms of danger, the roof is a rebar reinforced slab, making it dangerous for anyone underneath it. So, at least for now it means that what is in the storage room is inaccessible. And it puts the solar panels and water tanks on top at risk. As well, both of the one story school buildings in Cite Soleil are damaged. The estimate of $1M in damage to our facilities seems realistic.

Again, not surprisingly, the city is at a standstill in terms of normalcy. The stores that are left can't open since no one will go into them to manage them. While I expect that capitalism will eventually prevail, it may not do so in a timely manner and we cannot expect the international aid effort to do much more than deal with the big damage (which we do not have). As a result, Leon and I agree that we will have to assume that we will need to ship in whatever we need. That will include meds for the clinic and teams, new solar panels, batteries and an inverter to replace the ones we will probably lose at Blanchard, other building materials (maybe everything except cement) and everything else. Since electricity is othewise not available, I think that we have to hustle on the solar panels to ensure we have that at Blanchard.

Leon had no additional info about conditions and injuries, except that every time it shakes some damaged buildings fall. It has not yet rained there, so when the rain comes there will be other problems to deal with. We have ordered a 10,000 sq ft tent and are looking for 40 x 40 ones plus the various items needed to set up a spartan team accommodations. We hope to get that stuff shipped together in a couple of weeks. Since we need it now, we will have to bite the bullet and ship via CASCO.

MOH has been coming to Blanchard with more food (100 SHN [Stop Hunger Now] boxes each day) and a med team. So, in addition to the 31,000 meals passed out on Sunday, 2 days of 100 boxes = 36 x 200 x 6 = 43,200 meals. Dieu merci for SHN and the partnership we have had - it is a Godsend for the Haitians. I am booked on AmAir to go down on 2/5 and spend time with Leon sorting out what the next steps will be. If current conditions - aftershocks - continue, then it is possible that AmAir will delay again. But, right now they are advertising the end of january and I hope that I've allowed enough buffer to make it a do-able event. Once back I will get with the board re what we should do. Rough order of magnitude, I think it will be a phasing plan for teams to go - stressing that we need a steady effort and not a spike - , setting up team facilities, getting resources ID'd for shipping, and setting up a plan of action for making our way through the community and our facilities. A note on that - Luc, Profaite and Denis have suffered damage to their homes. In the latter two cases, the homes are destroyed. I am deeply sympathetic to them and want to help. But, we have to appreciate that we cannot focus attention only on the leaders or even the leaders first. Our efforts have to treat everyone fairly. This will be difficult and a challenge and does not mean that our hearts aren't torn in two when we see what has happened to these good friends and faithful leaders. Our commitment to them is as it is to all, we will keep faith with them, but that it will take a while to do so with a balanced effort.

Everytime I think of Haiti I am reminded of the watchwords of the French revolution - liberty, equality and brotherhood. While the French execution of that was unfortunate, the philosophy is on the mark. At this point, the immediate rescue phase is pretty much over, the relief effort is working - Leon et al have that in hand - and we have to be deliberate in organizing ourselves and teams for the long haul of reconstruction. As you talk to folks about this, please counsel patience and the need to sustain this reconstruction effort - which includes a steady effort of med teams to provide community care since the med system in Haiti has been hammered - for a very very long time. This will make the New Orleans effort look like a walk in the park and that for Mississippi seem to be the promised land. As well, please convey to your churches, friends, civic groups et al the same thing - that the initial outpouring of help will help feed and remove debris, but that bringing conditions back to even what they were will take far more. I think that the estimate for that for us of $1M for our own damage and seed money of $5M to start helping the communities is a reasonable estimate for now.

Sending stuff to Haiti. We've been asked many times about how to get material goods to haiti. It is expensive and difficult. My request of all who want to send collected items is to instead have a yard sale and send the cash down. Even if the items are useful they carry with them shipping and storage costs and may not be what is needed right now. However, a host of yard sales converting stuff into cash would be exceptionally helpful. The good news remains that the deaths in our areas have been far fewer than other areas. We know, still, of only two students who were killed in the quake - out of a population of about 1250. that number may still climb as information is assembled, but it remains an exceptionally bright spot for us. The other good news is that the needs are clear and the direction relatively evident. We just need to have the perseverance, patience and courage to continue with our Haitian brothers and sisters. So, in addition to constantly lifting them up in prayer, we should pray for ourselves and our North American friends to have the necessary perseverance, patience and courage. The CNN crews will leave. The current political will abroad in our country and the world will fade, but we must settle in for the duration - which is likely the rest of our lives for many of us.

Shalom - Bill

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