So far this morning I’ve done three loads of wash. Mostly sheets. We’ve had friends staying in the round house for the last few nights and now they’re on their way back to Port to take care of things there. We had a group of 14 pastors stay here last night last minute and they left this morning on their way to Port as well. All beds have been stripped and we are changing over to welcome other friends who have been trapped out in Leogane with all the kids from their orphanage. Leogane was hit badly, just as bad as Port au Prince, but little help has gotten out that way yet. An email sent on their behalf last night said that there are about 5,000 people camping out in a field near the city.
The medical team we’re expecting is working at a field hospital in Port. We may or may not see them depending on what their travel arrangements are. Communication is still very difficult. Only about 10% of phone calls go through right now. We’re going with the degaje method of life so well known here – make it work.
With all the media hype out there over this it’s easy for things to get said and then passed on that may or may not be valid. One thing that we keep reading and some have even commented on is that little aid is getting where it needs to go. I’m not on the ground in Port so I can’t speak as to how it’s being dispersed, but what I can tell you is that there are aid planes flying overhead CONSTANTLY. Day and night, it doesn’t stop. The aid is coming in. Medical professionals are arriving.
What is hard to understand from the outside what those of us here totally get, is what a logistical nightmare that things are right now. They are a logistical nightmare on a good day. Now the country has been completely crushed. Roads are blocked and difficult to get to. You can’t expect that to get easier right now just because there is a need. There isn’t usually running water or electricity for most people so the expectation that it be available now or the shock that it is all gone is nothing new here. There is one runway at the Port au Prince airport. For the amount of traffic that comes through there normally it is sufficient. In a crisis like this it is a logistical nightmare. The tower is also down, apparently. I commend the people on the ground that are landing one plane after another and trying to move people and supplies out of there. Thinking about it makes me want to curl up in the fetal position.
On a good day it can take over an hour to drive across town in Port au Prince. Now add people and rubble blocking the streets. Yes, it is going to take a while to get supplies where they are needed. It will be difficult for recovery and rescue crews to work. There are some that are still having a hard time with the choice Chris made to leave Jaqueline in the building on the night of the quake but they do not understand what challenges he was facing. They are the same challenges that rescuers are still facing, but the teams coming in are working with jack stands, sniffer dogs, and heavy equipment. When the sun goes down in Haiti and there is no electricity the dark is unlike any darkness many will ever experience. It is so dark you cannot see your hand in front of your face when it is inches away. In Canada and the US we also do most of our construction with wood or steel. Until you are familiar with all cement buildings you do not understand the difficulty of working in nothing but rubble. Pray for those that are doing rescue and recovery now. The job they have ahead of them is not easy in any way, shape or form.
We have been contacted by many people wanting to join one of our Vision Trips (for more info see the Vision Trip page) if they are still a go for March etc. Yes, they are still on as best we can tell. BUT, if you are interested in them because you want to help with relief work then they are not for you. Our Vision Trips are designed to give people a chance to see what we do first hand from start to finish and to see some of the area. We will not be changing the purpose of the trips to make them work trips etc. We have a staff of 17 local people that do all the work day in and day out. They are trained well and do a fabulous job. The work we do is technical and cannot be perfected in a few days. For that reason visitors can participate, but they won’t be making a huge dent in things while they’re here. Those dents happen over months and years when you can do it every day.
All that to say that if you are looking for ways to pitch in here in Haiti I would say absolutely do so, but wait a few months. I would even go as far as saying wait a few weeks to start contacting missionaries and organizations here about how you can be involved. Right now the people here on the ground are just trying to get through the next 24 hours. Things are still too raw to even be able to assess what needs to be done. Yes, they may have a wall that needs repair, but they are probably trying to save the lives of those in the neighborhood. The reality is that no one has any answers right now about anything. We don’t know what food supplies will be like in two weeks or even a month. We don’t know how much fuel will be available. Nobody knows much of anything right now.