Three Months After Haiti Earthquake: Rebuilding
The Haitian government and aid groups estimate that more than 95 percent of the schools in Port-au-Prince were destroyed by the Jan. 12 earthquake. With that knowledge and a list from the government that says at least 600 schools are urgently needed, Food For The Poor has made building schools a priority. The agency’s goal is to build 8 to 10 schools within the year. The first 24 schools have been decided upon and construction will begin soon.
Children now are gathering in tent cities and in open areas for lessons, as adults try to provide some sense of normalcy for them. In Haiti, children often depend on a nourishing meal at lunch and without a school-day routine, many are going hungry. Because of the need to build quickly, Food For The Poor is exploring pre-fabricated construction for schools.
Building homes, communities
Currently, Food For The Poor is able to build about 300 homes a month but the agency has a goal of 5,000 houses in Haiti this year. Acknowledging it is an aggressive goal, the charity’s leaders point to the imminent hurricane season and the general need to get people out of the elements.
“Right now, people are living in very bad conditions with only a tarp or blanket to protect them from the hot sun and drenching rains,” said Angel Aloma, Executive Director of Food For The Poor. “I saw the sick being treated essentially on the street with very little to protect them from the weather. Families are sleeping in the open and under inadequate covering. It is critical that we move quickly in home construction and relocate families so that they can begin to move toward a better future.”
Since the earthquake, the agency already has been building homes in Pierre Payen, and new homes are being started now in Trou Du Nord, Demier, Chastenoye, Delogner, Gros Chaudiere, Mahotiere and Grand Goave.
Providing proper sanitation is equally important as the reports of cholera, malaria and typhoid cases increase. Food For The Poor is installing sanitation for the homes it is building, but in the interim the agency also is building latrines near the tent cities. The conditions there are promoting disease – in most cases several thousand people share fewer than a dozen portable toilets.
Food For The Poor is installing solar lights near the latrines in tent cities and other communities to provide a higher level of safety for the people living nearby.
Continuing relief efforts
Food For The Poor continues to provide general relief for the Haitian people. Since the earthquake, the agency has delivered 530 tractor-trailer loads of food, medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, building materials and other goods. The people of Haiti have been provided with millions of meals from the rice, beans, canned goods and water shipped into Haiti. The feeding center at the warehouse and office complex continues to provide thousands of hot meals every day, and other food such as rice, beans and pasta are being distributed. FFP/Haiti distribution includes a network of more than 2,000 beneficiaries that either receive direct aid — orphanages, schools, hospitals — or beneficiaries such as associations, parishes, churches, congregations and community groups that, in turn, distribute to other people in need.
A story from the field
Aided by Food For The Poor, a medical team from West Palm Beach, Fla., has twice traveled to Petite Goave to provide care for the town’s injured. On the March 27 trip, the team treated more than 1,500 patients who made their way to seek help over the course of the week. Led by Dr. Jean Monice, a West Palm Beach pediatrician and a native of Petite Goave, about 20 medical professionals from the United States and from Haiti tended to everything from leg wounds to delivering babies. “We were treating a lot of skin infections, rashes on people who have to sleep on the ground,” Monice said. “Ordinary cases of ringworm, which could be easily treated here, get wildly out of control without the proper antibiotics and we have to treat both externally and internally.”
The group uses pharmaceuticals donated through Food For The Poor, and they distribute food as well to those who come to the clinic. A school that Monice started several years ago continues to draw about 140 children who show up even though there is no building, and no organized classes. The adults there gather the children for songs or simple games.
“They know they will get a meal,” Monice said, “so they come for the “school” but mainly they come to get fed.”
This visit, his second one, brought two life and death situations to his door within hours of arriving in the country. He and a colleague intervened for a young woman in labor. Without his help, the mother most likely would have died, Monice said, and she surely would have lost the baby. Another woman was close to diabetic coma when brought to them, and a simple diagnosis of diabetes and proper medication saved her life. Monice credits Food For The Poor with getting him the necessary supplies to help people. “The misery is huge, but I know that we are making a difference,” Monice said. He will go back with his team in August.
Thank you from the President/CEO
“Without the outpouring of support from our donors, we would not be able to reach out as compassionately to the people of Haiti,” said Robin Mahfood, President/CEO of Food For The Poor. “We know that people are struggling here with job loss and other economic challenges, and yet they have heard the cries of those stricken by this disaster and are responding with generosity and love. We know we face many challenges in rebuilding Haiti, but we know that the blessings will outweigh those challenges.”
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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