Earthquake Follow-Up #4

Most of the emergency aid organizations have left Jeremie already, since it is almost 2 months after the earthquake. But little has really improved for the population in the hardest hit areas of the earthquake devastation. The work becomes consistently more difficult because the needs remain so numerous while the situation in the country becomes worse.

The bridge in Jeremie is still not passable for trucks, and while many “experts” came to look, nobody has come back. Talk of a floating bridge is no longer heard. The scarcity of fuel is getting worse. Actually fuel is practically no longer sold at the pump, but rather in gallon jugs on the street.

Despite all this, Haitian Connection is continuing its work and standing with the people of the Grand’Anse. Our community mental health workers are doing an amazing job teaching people stress reduction techniques and having listening sessions to unburden people’s distress and anxiety. Pastor Erik relates how he was able to spend time with a family who lost two people who drowned in the Voldrogue river, a mother and her child. He was present during the funeral and stayed with the family all day, providing a great comfort with his presence. We also held a number of meetings and taught stress reduction and other ways to help people live with the experience that they just underwent. The meetings are always very well attended and people are asking for more.

Parents of school age children are very anxious regarding the beginning of the new school year. The do not even have school bags for their kids to send them to school with. Haitian Connection has purchased backpacks for distribution in Latibolye.

The backpacks also contained notebooks and pencils and pens.

We also had a food distribution in Latibolye for about 100 families.

Both distributions were organized by the women leaders in the community.

In Jean Bellune we continued our work by distributing tarps, so people can protect their homes better from wind and rain.

We also had another food distribution in Jean Bellune.

These food kits are truly appreciated by the people, because they have so little, and prices at the market are skyrocketing due to the difficulty getting goods into the area.

Another way that we are collaborating with the community of Jean Bellune is by providing some funds so they can begin to level some of the terrain and ready it for new construction once there is financing for it. School has not opened in Jean Bellune, because the elementary school has been completely destroyed, and the secondary school has also sustained damage. It is not safe to conduct classes there. Haitian Connection has sent some funds to clear the grounds so, if and when construction can begin, all is ready.

We also sent funds to start construction on two houses; we will build five houses altogether in the months ahead. Logistically, this is not easy, and the price of cement is rising daily. Photos will follow once they have been built.

None of this would be possible without the help of all of you who have so generously responded to the crying need of a people so tested by one calamity after the other. Many thanks to you.

Renate Schneider

President, Haitian Connection