On Tuesday October 4 Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti hard. Current reports include that the nearly 900 people have died, 350,000 people need help, at least 28,000 homes have been destroyed and almost 90 percent of some areas of Haiti’s south had been “completely destroyed.”
Haiti is one of the 8 countries where WE Villages works. WE Charity began work in Haiti in 2002, focusing efforts on the Central Plateau region, in four rural communities in the mountains outside of Port-au-Prince, which is the most rural and underdeveloped part in the country.
I am sharing this update from Erin Barton, Chief Development Officer at WE and WE Haiti Country Director. Erin shared this on Facebook this morning and I am sharing it here with her permission.
HAITI UPDATE, Saturday, October 8, 2016
Our team spearheaded by Fran-Dieu Napoleon, Chandler Merilien, Oxene Estinfil, Muricette Onel reached Les Cayes Haiti late last night after digging through mud and crossing rivers to arrive in one of the regions most affected by Hurricane Matthew.
I left them in Haiti 48 hours ago to return to Canada and report on the crisis.
The bridges have been washed out since Sunday, but finally roads were cleared sufficiently for them to get through.
As we waited over the weekend and at the beginning of the week we remained in constant contact with local representatives, our field doctor who was Les Cayes, Dr. Jimmy Almoza, the mayor and interviewed people via phone.
I have been inspired by the perservance of people, by the stories of neighbours helping lead others to safety, Haitian doctors attending to patients in a flooded hospital having to wade through knee deep water. Haitians are the first responders to the crises that impact their country time and time again, and this is no different.
Because we are agile, dynamic and fearless, our local WE team is one of the first NGOs on site, and I am so proud of them for giving so much of themselves to help.
Back in Hinche, as the team was preparing, when they shared with our communities that they would be going to assist some of our construction crew jumped into the back of the truck with their tools to join on the mission. They are volunteering their time to help repair roofs and doors to help get people back in their homes.
In addition to immediate relief supplies, we have established that our mission is to prevent the situation of dependency that was created after the earthquake. There are thousands of people who are pouring into temporary shelters which we fear will quickly become squatter settlements etc as people flock to aid distribution sites. Our interventions will be focused on empowerment. Empowering doctors by equipping their clinics and the hospital with supplies to serve more people and respond to the next wave of health emergencies which stem from water borne disease (predicting cholera, zika, chikungunya, skin infections, dehydration, etc). Empowering families to get back to their homes by repairing roofs, doors, and providing tents for their own properties. Empowering mothers (and fathers) with training and the means to restart small businesses and provide for themselves once again.
Today the team spent the day surveying the damage. The count of dead, destroyed homes, damaged schools and infrastructure continues. They described the scene and devastation to me with heart break. They have been meeting with community leaders and the most affected people, preparing and distributing hygiene kits, comforting people, making children laugh, congratulating exhausted doctors for their efforts.
As the day wrapped I asked them how they felt and they shared- thankful. Thankful that their own families are safe, that they could get there, that they have the opportunity to give back and make a meaningful impact.
Tomorrow brings another day, another opportunity to make a change and mobilize support.
Please support our Hurricane Relief Effort and keep Haiti in your thoughts this Canadian Thanksgiving.