Earthquake Disaster Response
Posted by rightsbasedhaiti on January 14, 2010
In my thirteen years of working in Haiti, not once before have I seen such massive destruction as we are experiencing now. Nor have I seen such motivation, determination, compassion, and solidarity among people. When we entered portoprens after the quake struck, the city had fallen and was continuing to fall as a result of continuous aftershocks. The streets were full of people sitting together. Everyone was sitting in the middle of the roads for fear that the houses would continue to fall on them. They were singing. The whole city was singing. They were singing songs of solidarity. They were singing songs of thanks and praise that they were still able to sing and to be together. These people have lost everything. The city is now a city of refugees. But they are putting their voices together to be thankful.
After recovering our loved ones that we could find from the wreckage, we spent the rest of the night assisting others in the street, strategizing and attempting to rest to prepare for the coming days. The whole night we passed hearing people singing, people screaming and crying when their loved ones died. People were dying all around. And the tremors continued all night. The hospitals are full and cannot accept more people. All over PAP there is danger from the destruction. There are still no cell phone communications or internet available. Coordinating activities is extremely difficult.
What is needed now is a way to get people out of the city. I am working with several organizations on a coordinated disaster response that is focusing on reinforcing the countryside so that people can leave portoprens and go back to their families in the province. Almost everyone in PAP has family in the countryside. The efforts that I am supporting are helping haitians to support their family members in leaving PAP and in receiving the care that they need when they leave.
If not organized strategically, this disaster will soon have huge consequences to the food producing regions that depend on PAP to purchase their product and services. We need to reinforce these areas and set up services in the communes so that people can flee the cities and find the support that they need in the communes. We need to support grassroots organizations in the commune by sending them resources to buy food, by sending them medical experts and materials, and provide them with other basic services that will support them in staying in the province and getting their lives together.
I am working with grassroots leaders in zones all over PAP as well as leaders from the provinces to identify strategies to move the people out and to assist the people in PAP who cannot leave in finding food, water, shelter and medical care. I am helping these leaders to coordinate and to facilitate outside help as well such as foreign doctors and supplies being sent by other countries. These leaders are identifying the needs in their communities and the network I am working with is coordinating thier needs with the resources that are bging sent from outside the country as well as from zone to zone within the country. I am assisting in the coordination of this effort on the ground in Haiti and Melinda Miles of Konpay is currently handling the logistics and coordination from the US. I am also partnering with AMURT-Haiti to coordinate emergency food relief in slums in the bourdon area of portoprens. We need help. We desperately need money to be sent to use for gas, transport, food, supplies co,ing from the US such as medical supplies and web phones, and to pay Haitians working to help Haitians. Many Haitians are working together without compensation to help one another. But this is not sustainable over the next month as resources begin to dwindle and people’s needs become desperate. We need to be able to support their work. Please send contributions to Konpay and go to their site where they are developing a page on our disaster response efforts at http://www.razoo.com/story/Haiti-Earthquake-Emergency-Relief-Campaign. You can find donation information on that page. You can also visit the Konpay, AMURT-Haiti and Beyond Borders websites to learn more about the work of those partners.