And here we go

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.

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About Leslie

I'm Leslie. Wife. Mother. Missionary. In the day to day my husband and I are responsible for running Clean Water for Haiti, a humanitarian mission that builds and distributes water filters to Haitian families. Living in Haiti full time provides lots of stories, and as I tell my husband, our grandkids probably won't believe most of them. Maybe writing them down will give me some credibility.

8 thoughts on “And here we go

  1. Hi Leslie…
    I just wanted to add a little to your thoughts on pitching in there in Haiti now. Thanks for all you are doing for the Haitian people Leslie and Chris!!After spending two years in Port au Prince I am still waiting on word of friends I can’t get in contact with. My first thought was that I need to be there doing something. Surely someone needs my kreyol and knowledge of the city. I want to share a response from a Haitian friend in Port when I asked him what I should do for now. His response made me realize that I am where I need to be for the moment:)

    January 16 at 9:22am
    Well…wait and prepare. We are gonna need you at some point, translation, and human ressources from the US like you who know Haiti pretty well. You`re a great asset now for effective action in the US to your authorities. For now we need water, food and medecine. Send as much of it as you can. Use existing networks to send them in such as the red cross, UNICEF, Salvation army,etc. Thanks so very much for the concern. We know we can count on you. You`ve always been a friend and a fellow Haitian.

  2. Thank you for keeping up this blog as part of your long day and many chores – I’ve been reading it every day and keeping you and Chris in my thoughts.

  3. Chris and Leslie,
    I want to help and will take your advice about waiting. Though your story was emotional you told the truth …reality… now. I am intrigued by your clean water Biosand product. , I have contacts with sources of bottled water but your filter is a self-sustaining product. I would like to help you. Contact me if interested.A.P.

  4. Thank you so much for taking time to post on your blog, each day. Even though I’ve been to Haiti, “just” three times, I can almost see what things must look like now. Your descriptions are excellent. Be sure to take care of yourselves, so you are able to take care of your visitors. Easy to say, right? We saw Peter and Sara and the boys, yesterday. What a great family!! :)

    Sharon Smith

  5. sending tons of prayers for you all! Especially Chris, its so hard and difficult to understand why this happened to both him and jacqueline. There was nothing more that he could do. period. somethings are just out of our hands, even when we can’t see that they were probably never in our “hands” to begin with. His hands shaped the world. His hands put it into motion. and His hands will hold Chris through this. unfortunately, I don’t think his experience will be unique to him, I’ll bet that rescuers in port have had to make tough calls like this and will have yet to make more. I’m soo sorry that this has happened to you both and to all those suffering in Haiti, to ask them to “suffer” some more. its just not right. resting in HIS hands tonight and sending prayers your way,
    hugs Amy

  6. Just read something and wondered if it could help you break through the adoption road block.

    It’s about allowing Hatian orphans to have temporary entry to the US, but the last paragraph sounded like it describes your situation.

    “Also eligible are children previously identified by an adoption service as eligible for inter-country adoption and who have been matched to prospective adoptive American parents, the Homeland Security Department said.”

    I’m sure ‘temporary entry’ is not what you need, but who knows? If the US is greasing the adoption wheels and the Hatian government is smashed, maybe this could help you move your adoption forward… somehow?

    The most shocking images coming out of Haiti right now are related to the burial of the dead. I know you have internet, but not sure if you have the bandwidth to watch videos. These are horrific.

    They are tossing corpses into large dump trucks along with garbage and rubble. The contents are then trucked to what looks like a landfill 15 miles outside of Port. The images are of bulldozers spreading out the dumped contents with rubble and body parts flying everywhere. It is a grizzly thing to watch.

    Reporters say that truck after truck are constantly making rounds trips to and from Port. And one thing seems clear, we will probably never know how many died in the quake because nobody is counting.

    Maybe the lack of government and infrastructure makes this kind of thing inevitable. But it’s a gruesome reminder that in war and disaster, respect for the dead quickly vanishes.


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