Haitian Update

by Matt Robold on January 18, 2010

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From all accounts the outpouring of help and concern from around the world for the people of Haiti has been incredible.  Money has been donated at an amazing rate, and help and supplies are coming in as quickly as they can be organized.

Before we start patting ourselves on the back, however, let’s remember that there’s a lot of work to be done.

A friend of mine had been in Haiti since before the earthquake struck, working for CHF International to help build the nation’s infrastructure.  After the quake hit, those of us who know him waited anxiously for him to check in for over 5 days.  When he was able to let us know that he was OK, he also shared a bit about what’s going on in Haiti today.

My friend has always been a bit skittish about putting his identity out on the Internet, so, considering the fact that he is one of the sets of boots on the ground, let’s call him Boots.  Boots has found himself stuck not in Port-Au-Prince, where you see most of your news coverage coming from, but in one of the outlying areas.

These outlying areas, like Petite Goave, Grand Goave, and Leogane are more hard-pressed for aid than the capital city of Port-Au-Prince.  Roads are still being reopened, and most of these areas have seen little to no aid from outside.  Luckily for these people, organizations like CHF International, the Red Cross of Haiti, and the Boy Scouts have been very active in helping people however possible.

Boots also directed me to the CHF blog, where you can read dispatches about what’s going on in those areas outside of Port-Au-Prince.  For example, in Petite Goave, a town with a population of 12,000 people:

  • About 1,000 dead so far (cadavers still being discovered)
  • 1,813 confirmed injuries
  • Petite Guinee completely destroyed (built on rubbery land not rock)
  • Downtown roughly 5-10% destroyed instantly, especially old brick buildings and churches without iron reinforcements
  • Public buildings and hospital damaged or destroyed.
  • Virtually everyone is living in the streets
  • Most water pumps were electrical rather than manual pumps, so much water is inaccessible
  • Very limited gas/diesel supplies
  • Very limited potable water options
  • No outside aid has reached Petit Goave yet

CHF is assisting the following organizations:

  • Red Cross/Boy Scouts – we have given tools like wheelbarrows and shovels, plus loads of facemasks, shirts, hats, and gloves
  • The local Mayor – we gave some gloves and facemasks
  • And we are partnering with more local Haitian organizations during their relief efforts

The information from Boots then goes into some details about how he and his teammates are holding up (CHF staff in Haiti suffered ZERO losses – a real miracle considering where they work and the amount of damage the country has sustained).  One of the most important points that he made was that aid needs to be directed to the outlying areas, and not just to the capital.

When asked about donations, Boots asked that people consider earmarking at least some of their donations for areas outside of the Haitian capital:

[F]or 50 miles west of [Port-au-Prince] there is pretty total destruction, through Leogane and on to Petit Goave, with damage everywhere in between. Also, Jacmel [to the south of PAP] appears to have been beaten up. Cabaret up north of PAP was affected to some degree.

If you haven’t donated any money to Haiti yet, please consider CHF’s efforts and donate today.  If you have, consider doing it again.

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