Food For The Poor: One Month After Haiti Earthquake
Over the past month, Food For The Poor has been able to provide relief to Haiti through the acquisition and delivery of more than 7,100 tons of food, medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, building materials and other goods to support the victims of the Jan. 12 earthquake. The 359 containers have provided lifesaving goods to those suffering from the effects of the earthquake. The people of Haiti have been provided with more than 20 million meals from the rice, beans, canned goods and water shipped into Haiti. Food For The Poor was able to immediately respond to their needs because there were goods in the Port-au-Prince warehouse, containers already in the port, and more containers on the way when the earthquake hit.
In addition, Food For The Poor found alternative ways to deliver aid. The second day after the quake, the agency trucked in from the Dominican Republic five loads of medical supplies. The following day, staff was delivering food and water, and the Monday after the quake, Food For The Poor served the first hot meal in Port-au-Prince. Relief also has been directed to Cap-Haitien so relief could be trucked to Port-au-Prince. Some of the aid has continued to go in through the Dominican Republic. A team recently took water, fuel and 1,500 bags of cement across the border into Haiti. The cement will be used in rebuilding homes and facilities.
The staff in Haiti has been able to get food and oxygen to struggling hospitals, reopen our feeding center in Port-au-Prince and begin feeding several thousand hot meals a day, and we were able to distribute beans and rice to some of the omnipresent tent cities around the capital city.
Assistance from 150 members of the Jamaica Defense Force helped the agency by providing security for the warehouse, and guarding supplies so that food and medical aid could be delivered safely to those who needed it most. Because of Food For The Poor’s longtime presence in Jamaica, the country sent the members of the force immediately to aid Haiti. While 30 members of the force are soldiers, the others are medical personnel, engineers and technicians. They will stay in Haiti at least until early March, when the need for their continued presence will be evaluated.
FFP/Haiti distribution includes a network of more than 2,000 beneficiaries who are either orphanages, schools, hospitals or beneficiaries such as associations, parishes, churches, congregations and community groups that, in turn, distribute to other people in need. They usually receive an assortment of products including rice, beans, canned food, water and personal hygiene items that allow them to serve the various needs of the destitute, especially those living in the tent cities.
Geographically, we are primarily focused on Port-au-Prince, because that is the area of the worst devastation. But Food For The Poor has sent truckloads of supplies to Leogane and Jacmel, which suffered extreme damage. We also have sent supplies to Cap-Haitien, where refugees have fled looking for food, clean water and shelter. Royal Caribbean agreed to bring in supplies for us to that northern port, and that is the source of some of that aid being delivered there.
In addition to tons of container shipments of bottled water to distribute in Haiti, Food For The Poor installed an 8,000-gallon water tank at the Delmas 40B tent city, where about 50,000 people are said to be living. The crowd is estimated to grow to 70,000 at night. The water tank is replenished four times each day. We continue to have a solar water purification tank in the Red Cross compound in Port-au-Prince, and through that we are able to provide several thousand gallons of clean water each day for people living in tent cities.
Medical supplies and aid to hospitals
More than 28 containers of medical supplies have been shipped and distributed in Haiti. People are receiving aid in a variety of ways.
Bernard Mevs Clinic, a program supported by Food For The Poor, has been receiving medical supplies, oxygen and pharmaceuticals from the agency. Also, patients and their families at Bernard Mevs have been receiving hot meals that are cooked and packaged in the Food For The Poor feeding center kitchen and delivered to the hospital.
Aided by Food For The Poor, a medical team from West Palm Beach, Fla., traveled to Petite Goave to provide care for the town’s injured. The team of 20, plus 11 doctors and nurses from the town, treated more than 1,200 patients over the course of the week. Dr. Jean Monice, a West Palm Beach pediatrician who led the team and is from Petite Goave, personally treated 84 pediatric patients in just one day. The team was treating mostly infected wounds from earthquake injuries, fevers, diarrhea, conjunctivitis and skin rashes, and high blood pressure. Food For The Poor provided antibiotics, other medicines, topical gels for skin, as well as rice, beans, canned goods, hot meals and water. “It was both heartbreaking and inspiring,” said Dr. Jean Monice. “Thinking long-term, it is heartbreaking. This is just the beginning, what will happen when it begins to rain? I’m working back in my office in West Palm Beach right now, but I’m really working on my return date,” Monice said.
Some of the other hospitals receiving aid from Food For The Poor are:
- Saint Francois Salle
- Asile Francais, Rue de Centre
- Bernard Mevs
- Communaute Haitienne, Rue Audant, Route de Freres
- Le Mesi
- Saint Espirit
- Maternite de Petion-Ville, 1 Rue Goulard
- Canape-Vert, Route du Canape-Vert
- Foyer Saint Camille
Angels of Hope homes
For the most part, the Food For The Poor orphanages sustained minimal damage, but new details have revealed more than originally thought. At the older girls’ home, one girl was killed when a security wall fell and crushed her. The Salesian Gressier home for older boys fell during the quake. The 24 boys who live there are camping in tents on the grounds of the home. Also, one of the girls at the Maison d’Amour (House of Love) home was injured by a falling wall on her way back into the complex. After being treated for two weeks in Haiti, she was airlifted along with a caregiver and is being treated for a leg injury at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. Three of the other girls from Maison d’Amour are being treated for fever and dehydration at Bernard Mevs Clinic in Port-au-Prince. The nurses there fear that more children will need to be treated for similar symptoms from drinking contaminated water.
Twenty-nine of the 30 fishing villages are operating. The thirtieth village is not operating because of earthquake delays. Also, Neply and Bausan would bring the total number of villages to 32, but these are not yet completed or inaugurated due to the earthquake.
Plan for rebuilding
In addition to meeting the immediate needs of food and clean water, Food For The Poor has established a goal of building 5,000 homes this year. Food For The Poor can build a simple house for $2,600; one with a latrine costs $3,100 to build. We already are meeting with government agencies to determine where land is available for building. Work already has started on homes in Pierre Payen, and new homes are being started now in Trou Du Nord, Demier, and Chastenoye.
- After homes, schools will be built in communities as needed. We are approaching the rebuilding with a holistic community concept rather than individual homes, just as we have in the past with our villages.
- With so many hospitals destroyed, there will be a need for clinics, and our goal is to build the clinics for partners with necessary credentials to run them. Then we will continue to support them as needed through donations of supplies.
- More fishing villages will be added where it makes sense. Haiti certainly has the capacity to sustain many more fishing villages along the coast, and we have the expertise to identify good locations, train local fisherman and monitor the results in the communities.
- Agricultural projects have been a mainstay of our desire to create a self-sustaining economy in Haiti, and we will examine how best to move forward and consider migration patterns when looking at new agricultural projects. Again, we want to focus on the holistic community concept.
- What we’re expecting of the international community is for them to come up with a cohesive plan for building infrastructure – roads, water, sewage and electricity. We believe this must be done as a unified body rather than piecemeal.
“We must really start to think beyond this immediate relief now, and plan for the rebuilding, the rebirth of Port-au-Prince. It will be a huge undertaking, and it will take a long time – I estimate it’s a job that will take 10 to 15 years. But Food For The Poor has been in Haiti since 1984, and we will be there with the people of Haiti as they recover from this terrible natural disaster,” said Angel Aloma, Executive Director of Food For The Poor.
Food For The Poor, the largest international relief and development organization in the United States, does much more than feed millions of hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian agency provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 96 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor. For more information, please visit www.foodforthepoor.org
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