Thanks to the efforts of the people of St. Andrews and our partners in the Capital District, Fr. Milor, the Rector of the Church of the Holy Sprit and the six mission churches he oversees, was able to purchase a truck to replace the one destroyed in the earthquake. This vehicle will allow Fr. Milor to transport needed food and supplies to all the parishes he supports including Christ the King Church in Lahoye.Fr. Milor thanks us all for the work we are doing and bids us God’s peace. To help us help the people of Haiti's Central Plateau after the earthquake click here.
As we continue to work with our partners at Christ the King in Lahoye Haiti, I am reminded of a morning trip to the market place. It is always a visual challenge to visit an open-air market in a third-world country. This one was no different. It can be hard to look this kind of poverty in the eye, and wonder how this is possible. It was relatively clean when compared to the ones we had witnessed in Port-au-Prince. What was hard to come to grips with, was how little there was and how much the many people who live in Lahoye, and the surrounding area depend on the products sold in this market to survive. At the same time, if you look deeper and listen to the conversations, the transactions and the interplay between the women that do the lion’s share of the daily trading, you can see a deep seeded culture at work. The faces, color and texture woven into this tapestry were striking. Yet now after the earthquake, with even more stress on the resources, you wonder how they can stretch what little they have even further. And, with some of the towns water once again testing positive for contaminates, our mission objectives could not be more timely. According to one of Haiti’s premier health organizations, Partners In Health, “Haiti has the worst malnutrition, the highest rates of infant and maternal mortality, and the worst AIDS epidemic in the Americas. Nearly half the population is chronically undernourished. Healthy life expectancy at birth is only 43 years. Of every thousand children born in Haiti, 139 die before reaching the age of 5, in stark contrast with nearby Cuba where the rate is only 7.5 deaths for every 1,000 live births.” They go onto say, “The leading causes of child mortality are diarrheal diseases, acute respiratory infections, and malnutrition. Acute respiratory infections and diarrheas cause half of the deaths in children under five years of age. Only half of the child population is vaccinated. Infectious diseases, led by HIV and TB, are the major causes of adult mortality. Maternal mortality, largely due to obstructed labor and hemorrhage, is at 523 per 100,000 live births, compared to less than 20 per 100,000 in the United States and only 2 per 100,000 in Sweden.” To help us help the people of Haiti's Central Plateau after the earthquake click here.
My trip to LaHoye - Casse on the central plateau of Haiti, revealed both increasing needs and the continued hope and faith of the people I encountered. It is an exciting time. I am writing to discuss the current conditions at the church and school, including how they have changed following the earthquake. Along with this assessment I will discuss specific next steps. As we move forward, two communities of God's children, we will need to dedicate our time, talent and resources. What we can do may be challenging, but the outcomes can be life changing, both for our partners in Haiti and ourselves. The needs from the aftermath of the earthquake are similar to throwing a stone in the water. The major destruction was at the epicenter and northeast through Port-Au-Prince. The effects then projected out like waves from the center with 600,000 refugees leaving Port-Au-Prince and traveling to their home villages. This has put a strain on everything. There are 50 more children at the school for a total of between 305 and 315. At the same time, families of the school children have now taken in family from Port - au-Prince. This leaves less money for tuition. The school was already too small so with 50 more students, the school is more crowded now. I calculate between 4-4.5 square feet/ child (2'x2'). The roof of the main shelter is in very poor condition and is leaking. The roof on the secondary shelter is made of vegetation. We contributed funds to repair these roofs. The concrete rooms needed for storing lunch program that was to start in January are pretty much completed. One 9'x10' room is now being used as a classroom for 30 children. Unik, Franz and I discussed the following needs. Medical-Water-Food The lunch program from World Vision was scheduled to start about January 20. It has not started as the resources are going to Port-Au-Prince. The school is being told that the program will start but there is not a date yet. A representative from World Vision came to the school in the middle of April and wrote down the number of students. The distance from the water well to the school is a full ½ mile. My water test showed bacteria in the water. I am not able to test to determine the type of bacteria. The existing wells in that area were all drilled by Safewater Plus, with joint funding provided by World Vision and Rotary International. The next step is to explore with them the feasibility of drilling a well at the school. There are a number of issues to be overcome, including whether it is possible to get a drilling rig to the school. This is also an expensive proposition. Unik and Franz requested that a clinic be at the school. There is clearly a significant value of a health assessment and vaccinations for all of the children. Just as important is that when we identify a child who needs medical assistance, there needs to be a means and mechanism for follow-up. For this reason, any type of clinic for the school needs to be done with medical personnel who are already there. A medical clinic, run by Project Medishare, is temporarily housed in the public school building about 1 ½ to 2 miles from the school. It operates 5 days/week. The permanent building for the clinic was damaged by the earthquake and is being repaired. While I was there I Spoke to a representative from Project Medishare about a clinic for the school. Her answer is what I expected, they would like to but they don't have enough personnel to handle what they are already doing. She did offer to train a nurse if we had one at the school. We don't. I will be in contact with Project Medishare to see what needs to be done to allow this to happen, and how we can assist. Shelter for school/church The rainy season has started. The coconut frond roof is clearly not adequate. The roof on the main building leaks and needs to be replaced. We provided funds to put a metal rough replacing the frond roof and making some repairs to the main roof. The roofing situation will be improved but significantly more needs to be done. With 50 more children, the school needs 50 more places for them to sit. We provided funds to build 5 new school benches. This will be enough for 25 children. Education Teacher' salaries - because families have less money for tuition, the school was four months in paying the teachers. We left enough money to pay for two months of teacher's salaries. This is an area that needs a long term solution. Supplies - There is a chronic need for school supplies. We are hoping that we can be included in a one time shipment of school supplies which is scheduled for this summer. Uniforms - Fifty more children means the need for 50 more uniforms. Children are able to come to school without them but this should be addressed. It is important for the children to integrate into the school and not feel or be identified as outsiders. Next steps: 1. Part of what we need to be involved with is helping our Haitian Partners to develop relationships with other agencies in Haiti who may be able to help meet some of these needs. 2. Ongoing contact with Project Medishare to see how we can jointly monitor and improve the health of the school children. Since part of the problem is the lack of personnel, a potential solution might be a medical mission trip. At this time, it is much to early to predict how this issue will play itself out. 3. Contact with Safewater Plus to determine the feasibility and cost of a well for the school. There will be a significant cost to doing this. It may be appropriate to seek out a local partner. In the meantime we need to work with our Haitian partners to determine how they can meet the need for water, at least for hygiene. 4. Be in contact with "To Love a Child", who is working with the Saratoga Development agency to deliver a load of school supplies to Haiti. At this point we have no idea whether this will be possible. It will be dependent upon the means of transport and the amount of materials they already will be transporting. 5. These actions will cost more money than they will be able to find in Haiti. In order to do this, we need to contribute significant resources. It is important for us to develop local partnerships and raise a significant amount of money. Summary: It is an exciting time as we identify ways to assist our Haitian partners that will have very significant impacts in a relatively short period of time. At the same time it produces a clearer understanding of the resources needed to do this. It is a call for action. To help us help the people of Haiti's Central Plateau after the earthquake click here.
On Thursday, the first official meeting of the full Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission (IHRC) will take place in Port-au-Prince. Bellerive is co-chairman of the commission along with former U.S. President and U.N. Special Envoy Bill Clinton. Under the terms of the reconstruction, the commission must approve all projects, from schools to hospitals to roads. At the same time, countries are asked to donate money to a trust fund. So far, only Brazil has signed a $40 million payment, and the Haitian government has been criticized for not having a clear plan on what a new capital should look like, and how to remove an estimated 1.5 million quake victims from public plazas and private lands. Jeniffer Kay of the Associated Press reports - "Haiti's prime minister visited Florida on Tuesday seeking potential investors for an estimated $5.3-billion in rebuilding projects he is overseeing along with Bill Clinton in the earthquake-ravaged nation. Jean-Max Bellerive said major financing and construction contracts will be issued shortly and some smaller contracts for road rebuilding have already been signed as the Caribbean country seeks to recover from the Jan. 12 quake that devastated Haiti's capital. Bellerive sought to assure potential investors that corruption and bureacratic red tape pre-dating the quake have been addressed, that rebuilding will spur jobs' creation and that Haiti's leaders are committed to holding presidential and parliamentary elections later this year. "People know Haiti, and they know Haiti badly. I'm here to stop that," Bellerive told The Associated Press in an interview in which he also sought to boost Haiti's image. Haitian President Rene Preval's five-year term expires Feb. 7, 2010, though the country issued a law in May allowing an extension of his term up to three months if the elections are not held as scheduled Nov. 28. Bellerive reiterated Preval's pledge to abide by that timetable and noted that investor confidence is closely linked to unblemished elections. "If we don't have transparent elections, we won't have investment, either," he said. "It's one deal." Bellerive and former U.S. president Clinton, presently the U.N. special envoy to Haiti, will oversee the more than $5 billion in donor pledges for the next 18 months.