Dateline Haiti. Feb 7, 2010 We have just completed four days of in country assessment for ERDO’s response to the crisis in Haiti. We spent considerable time with PAOC’s global workers, Michel and Louise, Bob and Tammy.
Michel drove us through the heart of downtown Haiti. We were left reeling by the complete destruction. CNN images only supply a small slice of the reality. Through the busyness of our documenting, observing, and evaluation; we stopped in the realization that people lived here, died here and still remain under the concrete. We paused for a moment. A child’s photograph lay on top of the rubble outside of a broken prison wall. A Christmas tree, white with dust, lay wedged under the weight of two floors collapse.
People pick up the pieces and move on. Street vendors sit outside of what were once shops and businesses. Dazed, overwhelmed by loss and yet forced by the urgencies of hunger, thirst and shelter to continue moving.
We met with a number of the agencies that were first on the scene. Our review of the efforts to this stage had us connecting with the Samaritan’s Purse relief team director; with CRI, the coordinator of the medical response facilities in the country; as well as our long-time partners at the Canadian Food Grains Bank.
We drove out of town to listen to rural community leaders describe their plight. Large businesses have collapsed, not only burying buildings but also employment in the aftermath. The nations flour-mill is gone, the flour for bread will now need to be imported.
We visited with David, who until a month ago was simply running a small orphanage of 50 children. Today he was heading out for his second distribution as he attempted to feed the 5000 people who are calling for help. The local mayor called and asked him to care for another 200 children. David would like to say yes, but he is not sure if he has the supplies or the capacity.
Notions such as relief, recovery and rebuilding suddenly take on a depth of meaning beyond another headline. These priorities may actually mean life and death for the hundreds of thousands who remain camped in the temporary shelters on any spare bit of rubble-strewn ground.
The government directive has asked the people to continue to sleep outside rather than go back inside of the listing walls of their homes. Very few were inside anyways, fear rules here, wondering when the next shock will come. For thousands there are no more homes only blue tarps and braided palm tree walls.
We are challenged but committed to simply walk forward into the next step. This is what we know: we need to pray, continue to listen, engage, and give.
It is 10:30 pm and the rain has just begun, the first since the quake. It looks like the brief delay in the start of the rainy season is over; these temporary shelters won’t last long.
David Adcock and Mark Crocker