Friday, April 23, 2010
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Sunday, April 4, 2010
President and Executive Director, American Jewish World Service
As many of us have been paying close attention to the long-awaited passage of health care reform last week, it was easy to miss something else that was absolutely extraordinary. Former President Bill Clinton said at a recent Senate hearing that he regrets the impact in Haiti of the free trade policies that became a hallmark of his presidency.
"It may have been good for some of my farmers in Arkansas, but it has not worked. It was a mistake," Clinton said this month. "I had to live everyday with the consequences of the loss of capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people because of what I did; nobody else."
Sadly, he's right. The rapid lowering of agricultural trade barriers in Haiti combined with misguided U.S. food aid policy allowed American agribusinesses to flood the country with cheap surplus rice and force tens of thousands of local farmers out of business. According to the Associated Press, six pounds of imported rice now costs at least a dollar less than a similar quantity of locally-grown rice. So how can a Haitian farmer compete? The past 15 years have shown they simply can't.
Prior to the era of so-called "free trade", Haiti could feed itself, importing only 19 percent of its food and actually exporting rice. Today, Haiti imports more than half of its food, including 80 percent of the rice eaten in the country. The result is that Haitians are particularly vulnerable to price spikes arising from global weather, political instability, rising fuel costs and natural disasters, such as earthquakes that register 7.0 on the Richter scale. In fact, since the January earthquake, imported rice prices are up 25 percent.
It is especially fitting that President Clinton's mea culpa comes as the Jewish community worldwide prepares to observe Passover. The story of Passover is a stark reminder that communities cannot rely solely on others to provide for their needs. Until people are empowered to help themselves, in-kind assistance from the outside is useful only in the immediate aftermath of acute emergencies. Long-term needs must be met principally through a community-led approach. The lesson we take from Passover is that once the Israelites spoke out against slavery their prayers for freedom were finally answered.
Today, the people of Haiti are speaking as loud as they can. They desperately want a voice and central role in the reconstruction of their country, including the ability to meet the country's nutritional needs with food produced by Haitians in Haiti. In fact, President Rene Preval, himself a rice grower, has asked for international food aid to be replaced by financial support for farmers and the re-development of the agricultural sector. Preval knows that sustained success in rebuilding depends on food sovereignty, or the ability for Haitian farmers to grow their own crops and feed their own communities.
Is the international community getting the message? It's hard to say. The AP also reported that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided nearly four times as much in-kind food aid since January as it invests each year in Haitian agriculture. There is of course a need in grave circumstances for actual shipments of food - but for decades we've used in-kind food as a tool for destroying local agricultural markets on an ongoing basis, not as a last resort measure to be used in emergencies after all possibilities for local purchase have been exhausted. Until our government abandons a system that dumps surplus from American agribusiness on the developing world, its efforts at ending hunger will remain counterproductive. Then again, if you are the D.C. lobbyist for Big Ag, maybe that's the point. Maintaining the developing world's cycle of dependence is profitable business.
The time has come for us to pay attention, to heed the wishes of the Haitian people to be empowered. We must demand that the purpose of our work in Haiti is not to merely rebuild an export market for our surpluses, but rather to support a Haitian-led effort to create a country that can stand on its own, build a sustainable economy and feed its people. Over the next couple of months, Congress will be discussing how to allocate more than $1.6 billion in supplemental funding for Haiti. I urge you to contact your elected representatives and let them know that this money must be used to empower communities, not corporations.
Each year, during Passover, we say "let all who are hungry, come and eat." Then, ironically, we proceed to enjoy a wonderful meal with our families and friends while our front doors remain closed. If you will be celebrating Passover this year, I ask that you open your doors -- at least metaphorically -- and hear those calls from a country just a few hundred miles off our shore. Recognize that the people of Haiti may not need our food. Rather, they need us to listen as they tell us how we can really help.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
NEW YORK, United States, March 8, 2010 – A delegation of human rights experts is preparing to visit Haiti to assess the human rights and aid situation in the earthquake-crippled nation and to urge the international community to follow a series of guidelines they have prepared to help donors to "overcome the mistakes of the past."
The team will be conducting its assessments through interviews and onsite visits both inside and outside of Port-au-Prince, focusing on towns where dislocation has been most acute since the January 12th earthquake.
The trip, scheduled for March 9th to 12th, comes ahead of the March 23rd hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, where members of the delegation will provide testimony aimed at encouraging the commission to formally investigate the human rights impacts of post-earthquake aid on behalf of the Organisation of American States.
It also precedes the much-anticipated March 31st Haiti Donors' Conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York, where future aid to Haiti will be discussed. The groups recently issued a list of recommendations outlining a rights-based approach to aid delivery in advance of that conference, and have a long history of working on aid and human rights issues in Haiti.
The delegation will consist of representatives from prominent human rights organisations - the Centre for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) at NYU School of Law and the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights (RFK Center) - and Haitian experts from the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) and Zanmi Lasante/Partners in Health.
They plan to conduct what they describe as the first of a series of assessments that will span the coming year.
One member of the delegation, Monika Kalra Varma, executive director of the RFK Centre, told IPS "Rhetoric and goodwill go only so far. Forging a real partnership with the Haitian people will require a total change in the culture of delivering aid to Haiti. Yet if that kind of partnership is not achieved, we will have more of the failures we have seen for decades.”
Noting that this is a requirement not only for country donors but also for the large number of international NGOs operating in Haiti, she said the Haitian people "must have an active voice" in what is being planned for their country.
"This is not simply a Port-au-Prince problem," she stressed. "A million people have fled the capital for safer locations elsewhere, usually with family members. Those people too must be included in the new partnership."
The groups are recommending "a rights-based approach”. They want donor states to act with full transparency and accountability, making information about their plans and programmes available to all, and work with the Haitian government to set up public monitoring and reporting mechanisms.
They called for the creation of a multi-donor fund that includes Haitian officials, civil society and community-based organisations as voting members on the governing committee, and urged that donors build the capacity of the Haitian government to manage its own aid programmes.
"This requires donors to work directly with the government of Haiti to identify needs and to develop, implement, and monitor programmes to provide basic public services, including education and public health, water, and sanitation services," the groups declared.
The capacity of the Haitian government to budget, disburse funds, and implement projects in a transparent way should be a high priority, the groups say. They are also recommending the creation of a "public web-based database to report and track donor pledges, disbursed funds, recipients, sector areas, and expected outcomes under the aegis of the Multi-Donor Fund."
"This is not simply a Port-au-Prince problem"
--Monika Kalra Varma
They must prioritize programmes benefiting vulnerable groups, including women and children, the disabled, the elderly, and internally displaced persons.
Accountability plays a major role in the series of recommendations. The groups propose the establishment and funding of a mechanism "to measure and monitor the outcomes of assistance projects at the community level”.
“All findings should be made public. This mechanism should be administered by the Government of Haiti in partnership with civil society and community-based groups and should include a mechanism for Haitians to register complaints about problems with implementation of projects,” they propose.
International aid to Haiti has been problematic for decades before the earthquake flattened the country's capital city, Port-au-Prince, leaving a million homeless and killing an estimated 200,000.
Aid to Haiti has been marked by frequent interruptions, particularly in assistance from the US, for political and ideological reasons. (IPS)
Friday, March 5, 2010
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
'Post Disaster Needs Assessment' - Whose Needs? Whose Assessment?
by Beverly Bell
Thursday, February 25, 2010
As Haiti moves forward from the current point of devastation of its
population, capitol city, and economy, what could a different nation
Who knows better than the Haitian majority? Why not ask them what they
need and want?
Their perspectives have been sorely lost from the post-earthquake plans
of some of the world's strongest powers. Their analyses went unheard by
the foreign ministers and financial institutions at the international
donors meeting in Montreal on January 25. Their voices have been lost
amidst the declarations of the International Monetary Fund, President
Obama, and the leadership of the 32,500 troop-strong U.S. and U.N.
military operation now underway.
On February 13th and again on the 20nd, more than fifty organizations
representing grassroots sectors met in Port-au-Prince to develop their
political, economic, and social priorities, and to make their voices
heard. The declaration from February 13th read in part: "[We have]
decided to launch a national and international campaign to bring forth
another vision of how to redevelop this country, a vision based on
people-to-people solidarity to develop the opportunity now facing this
country to raise up another Haiti. We [want] to build a social force
which can establish a reconstruction plan where the fundamental
problems of the people take first priority. These include: housing,
environment, food, education, literacy, work, and health for all; a
plan to wipe out exploitation, poverty, and social and economic
inequality; and a plan to construct a society which is based on social
Discussions toward a cohesive forum of social movements are still
underway. In the meantime, a subset of the grouping -- the Consultative
Group of Social Movements on Reconstruction -- committed itself to
organizing a meeting on March 12th and 13th to explore priorities and
how to achieve them. The Consultative Group will seek broad
participation from different sectors and regions. The groups leading
this network include the Platform to Advocate Alternative Development
in Haiti (PAPDA, by its Creole acronym) and its six member
organizations, the Alternative Justice Program (PAJ), the Society for
Social Mobilization and Communication (SAKS), and a few others.
Dozens of interviews with social movement leaders reveal a clearly
emerging consensus on the priorities for reconstructing the country --
or, as some call it, "constructing the country," since few are served
by reconstructing what existed before. The priorities are as follows.
* Creating participatory democracy. This has been at the heart of
social movements' demands from the moment Haiti emerged from the brutal
30-year Duvalier dictatorship in 1986; it may be more relevant today
than ever. Government must serve the people, be accountable to them,
and include their participation. Community organizer Marianne Moïse
captures the objective when she says, "We have to be the principal
actors in changing our country. No one else can change it for us."
Citizens assert that it is their right to be involved in decisions
regarding future policies and programs. After all, they are the ones
who will have to live with the impacts.
* Rebuilding under a new economic paradigm, one which breaks free
of the old path where agricultural production is undermined by unfair
trade rules, where food and many other basics are imported, and where a
coveted job is as a sweatshop worker earning $3 per day. Social
movements are adamant that Haiti from here on out must be based on
principles of economic justice, including:no more payments on a
long-since-repaid foreign debt, trade rules that privilege Haitian
producers and Haitian goods, food sovereignty, employment
opportunities, and workers' rights.
* Protecting the environment. This is connected to a new economic
model, part of putting people and the earth before profits. Central to
social movements' environmental advocacy is tough environmental
regulations for industry (which are currently nonexistent) and a new
model of ecological agriculture. Creating environmentally healthy
citizen practices is another factor.
* Putting social needs at the center. As articulated by experts,
women in a rights group now living under sheets in a refugee camp,
those needs are, in a rough ranking of priority: housing, food, health
care, education, and work.
* Privileging agriculture. In a country where the rural farming
population comprises 65% to 80% of the population (depending on who's
answering, as no census has ever been taken), substantial investment in
developing peasant agriculture is critical. This is especially true in
a context of a food crisis that was already severe before the
earthquake and that will soon become much more so, since farmers have
had to use much of this year's seed stock to feed the deluge of people
fleeing Port-au-Prince for the countryside. Just trade policies which
protect local production are key.
* Ensuring women's and children's rights. In the fragile and
dangerous post-catastrophe environment, social and economic rights for
women and their children must be front and center. Security against the
violence now escalating against them is also critical. Malia Villard,
organizer of rape survivors, says, "They didn't respect our rights even
before the Presidential Palace was destroyed, even before the Palace of
Justice was destroyed. We need that in the reconstruction."
The agenda is monumental in the best of times. Today it is being
shaped by people who still don't know where their child is, who came to
work today after attending another funeral, who are still wearing casts
from earthquake injuries. It may be that their pain and difficulties
sharpen the determination to have their needs met in a context of
social and economic justice and democracy.
That is the perspective, at least, of Ricot Jean-Pierre, director of
programs for PAPDA. He says, "Sadness can't discourage us so that we
stop fighting. We've lost people as in all battles, but we have to
continue fighting to honor them and make their dreams a reality. The
dream is translated into a slogan: ‘Another Haiti is possible.'"
Beverly Bell has worked with Haitian social movements for over 30
years. She is also author of the book Walking on Fire: Haitian Women's
Stories of Survival and Resistance. She coordinates Other Worlds,
www.otherworldsarepossible.org, which promotes social and economic
alternatives. She is also associate fellow of the Institute for Policy
Sent by the Haiti Support Group - A British solidarity organisation
supporting the Haitian people's struggle for participatory democracy,
human rights and equitable development - www.haitisupport.gn.apc.org
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Contractors in Haiti, Readying to Profit from Disaster?
Tuesday, 16 February 2010 17:05
With the Inter-American Development Bank saying that the reconstruction of Haiti could cost upwards of $14 billion, and with billions in aid already coming in to Haiti, it is vitally important to keep a close eye on where that money is being spent.
The Federal Procurement Data System - Next Generation, has set up a function where you can track contracts awarded for Haiti related work. The list, however, is not exhaustive; there is a message on the site saying that the list only "represents a portion of the work that has been awarded to date." For instance the US Agency for International Development lists only two contracts totaling just under $150,000. USAID, however, says that through the Office of Transition Initiatives they have already given $20 million to three companies: Chemonics, Internews, and Development Alternatives Inc. The reality may be that these companies have received even more money than that though. The Miami Herald reported on February 8 that:
The U.S. Agency for International Development has given two assignments for Haiti-related work to two beltway firms involved in international development: Washington, D.C.-based Chemonics International and Bethesda, Md.-based Development Alternatives Inc.
The emergency work assignments, which are worth $50 million each, are
likely the first of many the agency will hand out to private firms to
help Haiti get on its feet after the devastating quake Jan. 12.
The article also notes that these were non-competitive contracts.
Chemonics is a subsidiary of ERLY Industries, also the parent company
of Comet Rice. According to a Washington Office on Haiti report, as
reported by Food First:
RCH began operations in September 1992 when former World Bank official and post 1991 coup leader Marc Bazin's regime signed a nine year development aid contract with RCH. RCH's corporate parent is Comet Rice. Comet Rice has been the largest importer of rice in Haiti for many years. The flood of its imported "Miami rice" in the 1980s, much of it supported by U.S. tax dollars through various AID and USDA programs, drove thousands of small scale Haitian rice farmers out of business. Corn and other grain production also declined due to the importer's marketing techniques. Development Alternatives Inc., in coordination with the USAID Office of Transition Initiatives, has been involved in shady political activities in various countries where the US was opposing democratically elected governments.
Shortly after the earthquake, investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill wrote for The Nation about defense contractors heading to Haiti. He made the following observation:
The Orwellian-named mercenary trade group International Peace Operations Association didn't waste much time in offering the "services" of its member companies to swoop down on Haiti for some old-fashioned "humanitarian assistance" in the form of disaster profiteering. Within hours of the massive earthquake in Haiti, the IPOA created a special webpage for prospective clients, saying: "In the wake of the tragic events in Haiti, a number of IPOA's member companies are available and prepared to provide a wide variety of critical relief services to the earthquake's victims."
While some of the companies specialize in rapid housing construction, emergency relief shelters and transportation, others are private security companies that operate in Iraq and Afghanistan, such as Triple Canopy, the company that took over Blackwater's massive State Department contract in Iraq. For years, Blackwater played a major role in IPOA until it left the group following the 2007 Nisour Square massacre. Many members of the IPOA have already secured work in Haiti. HART
Security is in Haiti "supporting clients from the fields of media,
consultancy and medical." Agility Logistics teamed up with
the International Medical Corps last year and is currently working in Haiti. Agility Logistics was indicted in November by a U.S. grand jury in Atlanta for overcharging the US Army $60 million on supply contracts. Reuters reports that:
The six counts of the indictment charge PWC with crimes against the United States including: conspiracy to defraud, committing major fraud, making false statements, making false, fictitious or fraudulent claims and wire fraud. Agility said in November that it had been suspended, but not debarred, from new U.S. government contracts pending the outcome of the indictment.
Post reported that:
Peacekeepers, for example, spent $10.4 million to lease a helicopter for use in East Timor that could have been secured for $1.6 million. While the article says the names of companies were not released, in 2007 the Post reported that:
[Andrew] Toh is the target of a lengthy investigation into whether he improperly helped two Peruvian generals and a Canadian company, Skylink Aviation, secure a multimillion-dollar contract to lease two MI-26 Peruvian government helicopters for the U.N. mission in East Timor. The task force has been unable to prove that Toh accepted bribes, but it says it cannot close the case until it gets access to Skylink's Swiss bank account used in the helicopter deal. The Post also reported that $65 million "or more was spent for fuel that was not needed for missions in Sudan and Haiti," and that "it identified SkyLink Aviation Inc., a Canadian firm, as the company that supplied fuel to the U.N. mission in Sudan."
Another contractor that has secured work in Haiti is Fluor, which "is currently working with the Army to optimize the response approach." Fluor is active in the Middle East, but was also active in relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina. USA Today reported in 2005 that:
Federal court records show Fluor agreed to pay $3.2 million in 1997 to settle allegations that its FD Services division padded repair bills for cleaning up U.S. Navy bases in South Carolina after the 1989 strike of Hurricane Hugo. Fluor also agreed to pay $8.5 million in 2001 to settle allegations that it billed the government for work done for other clients, court records show.
Of course, none of this is evidence of current wrong-doing. However in times of crisis contracts and companies with checkered pasts will inevitably slip through the cracks. Only a watchful eye will prevent possible widespread abuse and fraud.
by Beverly Bell
Feb 17, 2010
“A loss for the whole nation.” That is how one of Magalie Marcelin’s friends described the death of this women’s rights leader in Haiti’s earthquake January 12.
Magalie was at the forefront of the birth of the contemporary women’s movement in Haiti in the 1980s ("contemporary" because recorded actions for gender equity go back as far as 1820). She started Kay Fanm, or Women’s House, Haiti’s first shelter for battered women, which was also a hub of feminist and anti-violent activities. She was instrumental in passing laws to recognize women’s equal rights in marriage, and to criminalize rape and domestic violence.
Magalie’s political activism started as a teenager during the rule of Jean-Claude Duvalier. She was arrested along with others in a group that used grassroots theater to raise political consciousness. The government then expelled her, and she settled in Canada and studied law. After the dictator fell in 1986, she returned to Haiti and began advocating for women and for political rights. During the 1991-94 military coup, Magalie lived in hiding. Even then she never stopped organizing, hosting secret Kay Fanm meetings at her underground residence.
Though she was a lawyer, Magalie didn’t argue cases herself, but helped women in trouble find lawyers and create defenses. She managed to get a fair trial for a woman who, after having been beaten for many years, killed her husband. On another occasion, according to the feminist sociologist Carolle Charles, Magalie organized women to pack the courtroom during the trial of a man who battered his wife, to offset the man’s political influence. The woman won.
Magalie lived at Kay Fanm, sleeping on a thin foam mat on the floor. That way she was available 24 hours for the needs of the domestic violence survivors taking shelter there, though she sometimes stepped away for a night when she was too worn down. She was not paid for any of this work. It was all volunteer; she supported herself through doing sociological investigations in the countryside as a consultant for an international NGO.
Magalie was also an actress and free spirit. When she was very young, she appeared in the full-length film Anita, about a rèstavek, a child slave. She always hoped to get back into theater, but never found the time; there were too many women to defend and support. Her email moniker was tilangdeng, or "mischief." Part of her philosophy was that, to do this work decade in and decade out, she had to keep her spirit nourished. She spoke of how her hometown of Jacmel provided that nourishment for her.
Magalie wouldn’t play political games and told it like it was. She alienated some people as a result, but she didn’t care. She particularly angered people with a statement she made on the radio: “A penis is not a weapon.” In Haiti, synonyms for penis are ‘machete’ and ‘baton’, and having sex is sometimes called ‘to crush’ or ‘to cut’. One extended study in Cite Soleil found that, for 100 percent of surveyed women, their first sexual experience was rape. This was the context in which Magalie chose not to worry about others’ opinions.
Many of her gestures were quiet and unseen. She continually helped people find jobs, money, or whatever they needed to survive and be safe. She also helped women who wanted to start grassroots women’s groups. This is where she died, in a meeting with a woman in Port-au-Prince who wanted to launch a women’s organization. She was in the woman’s home when it collapsed during the earthquake. Three others who were inside were rescued, but Magalie was not.
Jacques Bartoli, a close friend of Magalie, tells the rest of the story. “The morning after the earthquake, Delano Morel, another of Magalie’s good friends, found out where she was. I got together a sledgehammer, other hammers, and heavy picks they use for construction, and we headed down. The street was blocked so we walked and walked until we reached the house. Magalie’s daughter Maïle and her husband Andy met us there. We got together a couple of volunteers and some other people I paid. We extracted her five hours later but she was already dead.
“Two other women that Magalie had just helped the day before, women who were having trouble with their mates, joined us to go to the morgue. But the morgue had collapsed. There were people trapped there, too. So Magalie’s daughter said, ‘Let’s take things into our own hands.’ We took her body back to Kay Fanm and we laid it out there with ice. We knew she wanted to be buried in her land in Jacmel, on the other side of the river, but the road was broken. I said, ‘Let’s exhume her body in a year and take her to her land.’ So Magalie’s daughter found a place in Port-au-Prince and buried her the next day.”
Three other founders and shapers of Haiti’s women's movement died in the earthquake: Anne-Marie Coriolan, Mireille Neptune Anglade, and Myriam Merlet. So, too, did an untold number of women who worked every day without professional title, office, or resources to make Haiti a more just and equitable place. They were all part of a thriving tradition of women’s activism to bring about social, economic, and gender justice. Their work does not appear in the media depiction of Haiti, in which the reports of sporadic street violence have been blown up until Haiti looks like a nation of barbarians. (Curiously, this reporting has largely left out one form of violence which is prevalent today: rapes against women and girls who, since the earthquake, have been forced to sleep in the streets.)
No one will ever know how many women activists died in the earthquake. Many of the bodies were quickly dropped from bulldozer scoops into shallow mass graves, or remain in the buildings that are crushed like sandwiches throughout Port-au-Prince and its environs. Nor will anyone ever know how many of them died needlessly, not from the quake itself but from not receiving the medical care, food, and water that the U.S. government repeatedly turned away from the tarmac so that its soldiers and weapons could land instead. For those women who died in this way, it was the final injustice in a lifetime of injustices.
The battle against more lifetimes of injustice will require everyone. It will require Magalie, too. Good thing she’s on the case, present and accounted for, inside all who care about rights and justice.
Sent by the Haiti Support Group - A British solidarity organisation supporting the Haitian people's struggle for participatory democracy, human rights and equitable development - www.haitisupport.gn.apc.org
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Headline: Haiti expert shares a vision at Harvard
Date: Feb 12, 2010
"Drawing on 27 years of helping patients in Haiti, Dr. Paul Farmer suggested a treatment plan for post-earthquake Haiti yesterday that could turn the devastation into an opportunity."
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
February 8, 2010
On January 12, a 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti, just outside the capital of Port-au-Prince. The damage is beyond human comprehension. Since then, groups have lurched to deliver emergency aid while the survivors have done an amazing job sharing what they have. As of today (February 8), the situation is still fragile: Haitian people are still traumatized, survivors’ own food and water are running out, and despite the critical need for aid coordination there is no evidence of that happening.
An earthquake of this magnitude and this close to a big city is bound to cause major damage, like recent quakes in Iran and Turkey. Complicating the forces of nature, rendering the tremors more deadly, is Haiti’s vulnerability to disasters. This vulnerability results from a series of human acts and decisions, not some random chance or act of God. The sheer magnitude of the death toll – best recent estimates say 200,000 dead and 1,000,000 homeless – results from how the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area grew up. In the 1980s, before the World Bank, USAID and other donors imposed “Structural Adjustment Programs” as part of the “Washington Consensus,” Port-au-Prince housed 500,000 people. This neoliberal approach resulted in a fast, chaotic growth. Shantytowns appeared to accommodate these quintupling of two million people who were pushed off their land and pulled into very low-wage factory jobs.
Responding to this humanitarian crisis, dozens of NGOs and mission groups sent urgent appeals for funds for emergency aid. Rehabilitating the deteriorating state-run General Hospital, Partners in Health teamed up with the Haitian government and even the U.S. military to provide desperately needed emergency medical aid. The U.S. military seized control of the airport, already under U.N. occupation, and then coordinated aid flights. Commercial flights stopped, and many operating under the U.S. military control were rerouted for lack of fuel. Occupying U.N. forces closed the border with the Dominican Republic. The earthquake destroyed the capital’s port, where most of Haiti’s food, fuel, and manufactured goods arrive, also because of the “death plan” – neoliberalism’s impact on destroying Haiti’s self-sufficiency. In short, no aid could get into Haiti.
While aid was being blocked, Haitian people – survivors, not victims – took very good care of themselves. Already a proud, generous, and resourceful people, Haitians got over their very intense divisions in order to survive. I was in Haiti for the 2004 coup and can attest to the very real divisions over Aristide, but the biggest divisions and most dire concerns for Haiti’s poor majority have been economic. Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas – with 4 out of 5 people making 2 dollars per day or less – but it is also home to the most millionaires per capita. It is not a coincidence.. For the moment at least, in my neighborhood at least, both political and economic divisions have become the ancien régime. In the new Haiti, middle class and pèp la (Haiti’s poor majority) are all sleeping on the ground, looking out for one another and sharing what resources they have. By themselves, people in my neighborhood set up a medical clinic and an information gathering apparatus. I have more hope than ever that Haitian people will survive this crisis because I have seen what Haitian people are accomplishing on their own, together.
But the survivors’ resources are indeed limited. Particularly urgent are food and water. This is where foreign aid in whatever form is urgently needed at the moment, in addition to medical needs. Partners in Health and French NGO Doctors without Borders are doing great work delivering this critical need. I went to my neighborhood in Haiti to and with Hospice St. Joseph as part of a grassroots medical team that was coordinating with Partners in Health. This team delivered aid to 1,000 people in a week. Many grassroots efforts to give aid to Haiti are underway, but the scale is still too great for the grassroots at the moment. The U.S. military is the most efficient and effective agency to deliver aid to Port-au-Prince at the moment, but especially since Haiti has been occupied following the coup in which the Bush government played an important role, survivors have no reason to trust them. I am told that big U.S. NGOs who used to deliver food aid to the countryside are poised to do the same in Port-au-Prince. The old plan – P.L. 480 – not only didn’t work, it actually hurt the peasant economy. So this “cutting-the-cake” plan has to learn the lessons of the past and not repeat the mistakes of hoarding, corruption, high overhead, and creating “big men.” And they have to be in direct contact with the grassroots, who are organizing. NGOs’ role should be one of support, not direction, decisions need to be made out in the open, and the NGOs’ points of contact must be fluent in Haitian Creole and have at least some understanding of Haiti. At bare minimum the Haitian survivors need the respect that they deserve, as a people who have survived despite very many obstacles, including those imposed by foreigners.
The urgent challenge that we must face is how to help survivors articulate their needs and to connect them with outside resources. Coordination will be literally the difference between life and death. Specifically, donors have a choice between violence in the form of understandable riots and --- military repression or a rocky and imperfect transition into medium-term plans of self-sufficiency (which must include rebuilding Haiti’s peasant economy destroyed by neoliberalism) and long-term plans of rebuilding Port-au-Prince. If anyone harbors plans to profit – call it disaster capitalism – please stop, if nothing else out of respect for the survivors and the thousands of dead whose bodies are still rotting underneath the rubble.
I don’t and can’t know how long Haitian survivors’ communal food supplies will last, but time is of the essence.
For now, nou la. We’re here.
The motto on Haiti’s flag offers the best advice of all: L’Union Fait la Force. In unity there is strength. The survivors have already learned this lesson. It’s our turn now.
Mark Schuller is Assistant Professor of African American Studies and Anthropology at York College, the City University of New York. He co-edited Capitalizing on Catastrophe: Neoliberal Strategies in Disaster Reconstruction and co-directed documentary Poto Mitan: Haitian Women, Pillars of the Global Economy. He is completing a book about foreign aid and NGOs in Haiti.
1 Known as Reaganomics in the U.S., neoliberalism is the belief that the state should step aside and let the free market take care of everything.
2 For a fuller discussion, see http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/01/15-11
3 See http://www.worldpress.org/Americas/3131.cfm and http://www.thenation.com/doc/20080602/lindsay
4 See Richardson (1997) Feeding Dependency, Starving Democracy for a detailed account.
5 For example, Food for the Poor was censured for mismanagement in 2006.
6 See Naomi Klein (2007) The Shock Doctrine and Nandini Gunewardena and Mark Schuller (2008) Capitalizing on Catastrophe: Neoliberal Strategies in Disaster Reconstruction
Read about our petition delivery at the G7 meeting in Iqaluit, Canada, on the ONE Blog:
On Friday, the Treasury Department announced U.S. government support for complete Haitian debt cancellation. But even as we celebrated the power of your grassroots efforts, we kept the campaign going globally to secure similar commitments from other countries.
That breakthrough happened at the G7 finance ministers' meeting in Iqaluit, Canada. The meeting’s host, Canadian Finance Minister James Flaherty, announced that all the G7 countries – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the U.S. – have agreed to support complete cancellation of Haiti’s $1 billion international debt.
Your signature was one of 400,000 delivered to the G7 finance ministers' meeting by ONE member Michèle Bertol, a Haitian-Canadian living in the small arctic town of Iqaluit. More than 200,000 ONE members signed the petition, and a further 200,000 signatures came from Avaaz and similar petitions at Oxfam International and Jubilee USA. These and other organizations have helped make this a proud moment for the entire anti-poverty community.
Visit the ONE Blog to learn more about Michèle’s story and the delivery in Iqaluit, and share your thoughts on this victory:
Though the InterAmerican Development Bank, IMF, and World Bank have not yet canceled Haiti's debt, the G7 countries hold considerable influence over them. We hope to see the G7 follow through by using their votes when these institutions meet over the next couple of months.
Still, this is a great victory and I’m particularly proud that it came in response to such dire circumstances. Once again, you’ve shown that when we come together as ONE, we can take on great challenges and create real change.
U.S. Executive Director, ONE
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Subject: Haiti Relief Debacle
Hello tout moun,
It has been an interesting experience sitting here in Port-Au-Prince being part of a coalition of 25 non-profit organizations coming together to coordinate the dispensation of food, water, and medical supplies. It hasn't been easy because of the extreme difficulty of passing through the myriad loops that the large NGO's require before anything will be given out. There is a 100 question form that they are passing out to communities to fill out bring back in order to receive aid. This alone can take them a week or so. The questions they ask are very difficult to answer and explaining location in Port-Au-Prince, is nearly impossible. Often Haitians use directions like, next to the large tree around the corner from so and so market. The UN wants GPS coordinates because many streets are not marked here and navigating the city has proven to be difficult.
After the one riot that took place in the worst part of the city, they are only sending out non-food items at first to see if the communities can function without a disaster taking place. I understand their concern for safety, but it seems to be quite a long process to go through before any nutritional needs are met. It has been nearly three weeks now and communities all over the place are living on minimal amounts of food if any. The Haitian government has been completely bypassed in all of this. The president has thrown his hands up in the air because he is not being included or informed about anything that is happening involving this process of bringing aid relief to the people.
Boats full of goods are being redirected to pass through the Dominican Republic (DR) which is a very lengthy process as well. We actually have a boat waiting in the DR which hasn't received any clearance by the port of Jacmel to debark.
When did it occur that our society got so disorganized. Where paperwork and numbers are given priority over bringing actual aid to the people. Smaller organizations have given up all over the place trying to deal with the larger NGO's and the UN because there still has been any sign of the goods being distributed. They have warehouses full of boxes and can't organize their dispensation to the country. The small organizations have given up and are buying local food to distribute and/or taking trips to the DR and driving truck loads of good back to the communities they are working in.
I understand that indeed this is quite a difficult project, but how could it be so disorganized? I hope that there will be a reflective inquiry into what made this all such a mess, so in the future aid relief will arrive and actually be given out to the people in timely manner and avoid the watching the population deminish everyday while groups run around like a chicken with its head cut off staring at piles of papers and computer screens, forgetting that behind the numbers are real people in dire need.
This has been a huge disaster, not only with the earthquake, but with the response. I only can hope that we get it together before more and more Haitians perish because the loads of aid aren't quite ready because they haven't been given the go by those in charge. If this doesn't reflect the depth of our Orwellian times, and not wake us up from this great mess we have gotten ourselves into, I am not sure what will.
The Haitian people are unfortunatley used to living with very limited resources including food and water and have a high tolerance for suffering. If this was to happen in the US there would have been no tolerance for such suffeering. With great hope and determination we will overcome this all and Haiti will revive itself.
Many thanks for all of your contributions to any and all organizations that are providing support to the people of Haiti. These are greatly appreciated. Unfortunately, in many camps essentials such as food and clothing are not yet widely available, especially for women and children.
As with most other natural disasters, the strongest and the fittest tend to dominate disaster supply chain and distribution. Women and young girls are the last to have access to the supplies chain and distribution points. So they do not receive the supplies that they most urgently need in addition to food and water. So it is in Haiti. Rape of young girls and women is also a growing problem.
Haitian women, young girls and youths are in need of:
· Feminine supplies, combs, feminine wipes, panties, bras and clothes and other support (especially for pregnant women and new mothers).
· Personal/household supplies for birth delivery and after: (rubbing alcohol or disposable anti-germicidal substitutes; baby wipes, baby wraps, pampers, socks and caps and supplies for nursing mothers/newborn; (It is cold at nights so there is need to cover the feet and heads of the newborns).
· Clothing and under garments for women and young girls
· Bedding & blankets for babies and mothers.
· Urgent need for the morning after pill (rape of girls and young women is becoming a problem, as is common in the aftermath of most disasters).
· Any items that you think would be useful for women and girls.
· In general any supplies (such as toothpaste, tooth brushes etc) that can be used for daily living for men, women, boys and girls are welcome.
We need your support for these resources and any financial contribution towards shipment that you are able to make.
Donations can be left in the accompanying box and or may be sent directly to:
HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE FOR HAITI
Sergia Galvan and Mayra Tavarez
Colectiva Mujer y Salud
Calle José Gabriel García # 501
Ciudad Nueva. Santo Domingo
Tel: 1-809-682-3128 or 1-809-315-0571
US contacts: Mariama Williams/Stephanie Ebanks, 561-512-3756
Email: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
This is a specific drive for Emergency Supplies for Haitian women and girls that is being sponsored by the Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action (CAFRA) and Colectiva Mujers Y Salud (Women’s Health Collective), Dominican Republic, and the CAFRA Youth League in Haiti.
This assistance is being transferred primarily through the Myriam Merlet International Solidarity Camp directly to women and women´s organizations.
*Myriam Merlet was a National Representative of CAFRA who was killed during the earthquake.
Many, Many thanks!!!
Important information for those sending supplies on their own to the address above
Please properly label the supplies and include a list of what is in it. The Women in the Dominican Republic have negotiated with the Government in the DR for quick and duty free clearance of our supplies for Haiti, but it will go through alot quicker if there is a list. That way customs can simply do spot checks, rather than digging through everything to get an idea of what the supplies consist of.
Please also an email to the DR as well as the CAFRA Secretariat in St. Lucia which is coordinating logistics. The email addresses are as follows:
firstname.lastname@example.org (CAFRA´s Admin Officer)
email@example.com (Leader of the Women´s Collective in the DR) and
Mayra Tavarez (CAFRA´s National Representative in the DR).
This is so that the can know what is coming and also plan necessary transport logistics to get it to Haiti across the border.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Cut off from supply chain from PAP with no currency supply the rest of the country is in a rapidly deteriorating state in terms of access to food, fuel money and costs of remaining items rising faster than at the height of the food RIOTS, a few more days and hunger will spark massive unrest country wide. People are subdued due to grief over PAP that will not last long. US Southcom has logistic capability to repair/improve capacity and open all ports (not just Cap, St Mark Jacmel etc) and begin moving goods, people, services and currency throughout the country to the greatest relief to the Haitien people but needs some diplomacy and invitation at highest levels of Haitian government to act.
Notes from UN meetings and parenthetical comments
In NORTH URGENT NEED FOR FUEL AND LOGISTIC SUPPORT IN MOVING IT IN (I know this may seem a shock but maybe more so than PAP where fuel is starting to arrive and gas stations opening somewhat)
CAP TEXACO station has opened occasionally offering limited fill ups of a few gallons
UN cannot manage logistics or convoys, no capacity for interdepartmental massive collaboration due to current reduced operations (see earthquake building in pap update). Scarce resources for problems being faced
Port of Cap STILL closed since quake and clogged with empty containers: only 1 forklift and flat bed to move empty containers a few miles away before it can accept aid.
Port of Labadee backed up with unmoving aid, no supply chain for moving goods, reliant on small NGO
Groups sending aid with no structure for movement. Private contractors for transport are hampered by lack of fuel and liquidity.
Port of CAP:Backlog at port of aid for PAP could stop normal commodities like food for supper markets from coming in
Port of CAP:Customs will not work longer hours (6-8) to process unchecked containers faster. Even empty containers require procedural review by customs before they can be moved and stored
RT-1 regraded to eau du cap need to know how far to go
rt-3 to milot (sacre couer hospital) needs work for patient transport
NEED MORE PRISON AGENTS
Bank currency supply logistics still hurt: BNC, SOGEBANK open tommorow, BRH open today, Unibank completely closed indefinite (significant leadership loss problems( this hurts MANY NGOS unibank was bank of choice for NGOs big Oxfam, CHF, and small AIDG, SOIL). FONKOZE more distributed in cash supply will open by week end.
Western UNION branches were sporadically open today but cash supply was problematic
Significant problems with logistics of movement of currency suppply, some banks have limited vault reserves that would not survive a run on the bank (which is likely considering the week of no cash)
Infrastructure was just opened as a cluster last night, not yet receiving the resources of say health cluster, more established prior to disaster
Desperate need for engineers:
Unops engineering understaffed 6 people available 20 scattered
permanent assets combat engineers doing S&R and Military engineers sanitation
Warehouse infrastructure not reviewed for an integrity. 1 major aid warehouse considering a loss after aftershocks, badly damaged, large supply of incoming aid cannot be retrieved. Need 7 structural warehouses need review. (AIDG HAS A TEAM UNOPS INFRASTRUCTURE CLUSTER WANTS!! flying into STI tomorrow that we have BEEN UNABLE TO GET SOUTHCOM TO FLY INTO PAP will not get to PAP till SATURDAY EVENING!!!)
Warehouses for food number one
Anything US military can do to help with that is vital in NEXT few days
Need 7 warehouses in PAP
Many UN buildings need structural review just to SALVAGE DOCUMENTS RECORDS AND PERSONAL EFFECTS (70%)
UN living in tents.
UN needs logistic support, especially in procurement of heavy machinery specifically:
they need forklifts, flatbeds for cap port
Long arm cranes
Bucket trucks only 3 available
more S&R kits for demolition (jaws of life etc, want existing S&R kits left)
They need massive scale up on technicians and training of locals
Cap acquiring a boat to move goods to PAP - landing craft (could be used for volunteers)
Displaced Populations and Health
CAP Reliant on data from mayor's office (ngo data interviewing bus drivers finds this understated by %50+) offical figure 10,000 (likely 15,000)
CAP No coordinated intake and registration
No review for escaped prisoners (Haiti Police/UN lacks lists of escapees and photos, gathering old wanted posters to scan)
Cap prison needs support
WFP is ringing food for prison, but doing so from PAP (unsure about this note)????
Hospital Sacre couer in Milot receiving patients but still below capacity
Urgent need for psychologists
Orphanages are at capcity, have no cash for food
Large numbers of privately coordinated volunteers with almost no situational awareness are showing up from the US
Arriving in Cap airport now that it has opened via chartered flights (due to difficulties in getting to PAP)
Not registering with the Haitien government
looking to UN to coordinate, UN has no capacity, no aid group with capacity is in a position to mange them
Need an organization with logistic capacity to get volunteers to PAP placed with groups and aid
Still sporadic but better. Reliant on diesel supply to towers, 3 days per tower. Can go down again
FROM NGO UPDATES (will email more need to get this out)
routes at times are getting more blocked 18 hour traffic jam from santo domingo
NO NORMAL SUPPLIES FOR THE REST OF THE COUNTRY GETTING IN aid traffic is clogging normal routes
Tensions in Limbe
Massive destruction in Leogane 90% almost tens of thousands lost, LITTLE TO NO AID ARRIVING
FROM PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS
Corruption in customs at Cap Airport (likely out of depseration for cash by employees)
Sporadic attacks on private trucks with food coming in from Santiago DR
Cap13 MW ower plant is largely RUNNING
p: +1.800.401.3860 x701 | f:
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Dedicated to my brothers and sisters in Haiti
An echo resounds from
the high mountains…
an echo that is a lament,
a lament that is like
the song of a woman.
A song that is born from the
depths of an old wound,
an injury that was buried
so it would be forgotten…
Today, in louder voices
it cries out to the four winds,
it cries for the pain of its
people that for centuries now
history has forgotten.
Taino-latino people that were
the first to claim their freedom,
in this mother Latin America
by the sons and daughters of liberty.
From the mountains the voice of
Anacaona can be heard again,
so much louder today no one can quiet her ...
Her voice is the voice of the people of
the high mountains…
Who today calls for more than
She calls for the dignity of
the children of God.
Because her cry is the demand
of the children of oblivion…
In a land that cries so hard
that it called for eternity to the thousands
of her children to awaken
the consciousness of those who
prefer to forget…
Thanks for your concern, your support and prayers. We have lost about 25 people in Fondwa including a member of the Sisters of St. Anthony of Fondwa: Sr. Odile Damus and a child of 2 years from the Fondwa Orphanage: Jude Dubic. They both died at the APF Guest Center which have been destroyed completely. Everything in Fondwa has gone. The infrastructure that we have built in 22 years: the Orphanage, the School, the APF Center, the Clinic, the Radio Station ( Radyo Zetwal ) the Sisters' Convent, the buildings of the University of Fondwa ( 7 of them). Everything has gone.
The epi-center of the earthquake was in Fondwa, between Leogane and Jacmel. The big building of Pastor Luc Guerrier has gone. The Roman Catholic Church in Fondwa has gone also. The Church of Philadelphie ( a Protestant Church) has gone with about 15 young people under the concrete blocs. The Spiritan have lost one Seminarian, Stephane Douge who died with 12 other Seminarians ( Oblates, Montfortans ) at CIFOR. CIFOR ( a theological school for religious in Port-au-Prince) is gone completely.
The Cathedral of Port-au-Prince has gone also. The Archbishop of Port-au-Prince, Mgr. Joseph Serge Miot died and will be buried on Saturday January 24. A big part of St. Martial College has gone, specially the Elementary Section which was also used as the Spiritan Pre-Noviciate House. All of the buildings of St. Martial are damaged a lot.
Our spiritan house in Senghor where I live with Fr. Patrick Eugene is seriously damaged. Our court-yard is used actually as a Refugee Center for about 200 victims of the earthquake. The other Spiritans are Ok.
Fonkoze has lost 3 employees - one Branch ( Bizoton near Port-au-Prince) has gone and 6 other branches very damaged. The Central Office and the Port-au-Prince branch are among them.
But the rest of us are alive and are in strongly in solidarity with the rest of the Country. Together, we can rebuild Fondwa and Haiti.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Saturday, January 16, 2010
He and the staff, including Erold, Fr. Patrick are ok. They only have not heard from or about is Giselle, but Max thinks that her neighborhood might not have been hit too badly. He was concerned about Murphy, but we told him that Murphy had left for Canada before the earthquake hit and is fine.
The 3rd floor of the bldg collapsed into the second. He has access to the first floor but has been hesitant to go in because of the aftershocks. He is thinking they may be over now.
Since the clinic was on the first floor he was able to access the food inventory from the nutrition program and some meds from the pharmacy. Right now he is rationing these out to staff and neighborhood people until more arrives.
biggest need is food , water, first aid kits, tents,masks etc. Dawn Pinder, former HSJ director, is coordinating a medical group who will be arriving Wednesday and bringing some of these items. We are going to try and contact the Red Cross and give them Max's location. Matt Marek, who you may have seen on CNN is a friend of HSJ and former employee of Norwich Mission House. Geri supplied us with a cell number for Tom Vriens who has supplies in Arbonite..but no way to get them to Hospice.
He is able to access the generator and is using it to keep his cell phone charged. He would like to us to be in contact with him everyday.
One of our vehicles is available...but gas supply is a big issue.
Banks are not open. but he is working with Anne Hastings of Fonkoze (microfinance banking org) to have some operating currency . He is NOT giving money to people...but is "paying" the staff with some so that they and their families can buy what they can.
Stores are mostly not open, but some things are available on the black market.
Max is aware that some of the students were killed, but right now there is no list of names etc. ..we know sponsors are concerned. GOC the engineering university has collapsed ...many students were in the bldg. we don't know if our students were among those killed.
Max sounded very good....committed and driven to do what can be done and ride this out until help arrives. He started to break down a little, as did we, when we were getting ready to hang up. the HSJ board will make sure to have a daily conversation with him. Email unfortunately is not a very viable option as our satellite is dish is probably in the dining room.
Max requests our prayers and knows we are all concerned and doing what we can. He is heartened by the fact that so many people have reached out to HSJ and Haiti .
..peace..Dennis and Sue
Three days after the massive earthquake shook nearly all of Haiti indirect reports from Fondwa are beginning to arrive. These are not completely confirmed, but they are sufficiently consistent and convergent to conclude that they are likely to be largely accurate.
Earlier today we received a report from Vital Gerard, professor at the University of Fondwa (UNIF), via phone call to Riche Zamor, the UNIF rector, saying “the whole town of Fondwa has collapsed”. Vital reported that he and several UNIF students ran from the UNIF building at the first tremor. Some students were injured getting through the gate, but all managed to escape. Vital made his way to Leogane where he was able to get a motorcycle ride to Okay (Les Cayes) where he has family.
At mid-day we received another indirect report via Joyce Kim, former volunteer in Fondwa and former PIP board member, and via Thomas Pitaud, former volunteer in Fondwa.
In the report Thomas says the following:
I just talked on the phone with Manno, He was able to talk to Kettly and Herault who was just coming from Centre APF.
APF center: Destroyed
Fonkoze Tombe Gateau: Damaged
Eglise St Antoine [Fondwa church]: Damaged
Atelye ebenist [carpentry shop]: Destroyed
Big House gwo makout la in front of Fonkoze: Destroyed [This would be “Pastor Luke’s House”]
Thomas reported several [unconfirmed] deaths and injuries (including almost 30 children in Tombe Gateau (Tom Gato) who were in the Philadelphia Church there). Thomas’ report says that Sr. Carmelle, and Sr. Simone and the “medam yo” (guest center staff) were NOT among the dead or injured.
Later this afternoon I spoke again by phone to Riche Zamour who had been able to telephone Fr. Joseph’s sister in Brooklyn. She confirmed first that Fr. Joseph is OK and second that Fondwa was devastated and there were several casualties and injuries.
Finally this afternoon I received a report from Humility of Mary Sister Joanne Gardner, H.M. (via Joyce Rothermel), who had spoken to Sr. Judy Dohner, H.M., who was in Fondwa as a volunteer with the Sisters of St. Antoine in Fondwa.
Joanne wrote the following:
Judy called me and said that it is horrible where she is – the buildings are all down. It was the worst thing she has ever been through. One of the novices died and one of the children also. They had the funerals yesterday. She has a concussion and a broken rib. She said they have nothing there. This was all she had time to say as her cell phone was going down. Let us continue to pray for all of them.
None of the reports contained specific information about the Fatima House Orphanage and the children there or the Sisters Motherhouse and the sisters living there, although Joanne's report, based on her conversation with Sr.. Judy, suggests that they are also collapsed. We continue to wait, and pray, and hope.
With gratitude for the living and grief for those lost,
Partners in Progress
After driving by night to Kennedy Airport January 12th, and flying to the Dominican Republic January 13th, Conan and I arrived to Haiti this morning in the helicopter of the President of the Dominican Republic . This ride was due to the reputation of NPH in the Dominican Republic , NPH Italy, a reputation enhanced in the DR by Andrea Bocelli not long ago.
Our first tasks were the medical evacuation of one of our American volunteers, the medical evacuation of one of our Cuban doctors and the evacuation of the body if one of our American visitors. The search still continues in the rubble for another missing American volunteer, Molly.
We also had 18 funerals today. One for John who works at our St Luke program. We miss John very much. He often stopped to at my door to tell me the milestone of his developing baby, which delighted him no end. John ran our computerized language lab. Another was for Johanne’s mother. Joanne is one of the Directors of the St Luke program. All the others were of unknown people who were sadly rotting by the wayside.
Other sadnesses…the death of Immacula, our only physician assistant, who worked at our huge outpatient side of our hospital. The death of ALL but one of Joseph Ferdinand’s brothers and sisters, the death of the husband of Jacqueline Gautier as he was visiting a school which fell and all the students (all died), the death of our ex-pequeno Wilfrid Altisme who was in his 5th year of seminary for priesthood. Other stories of deaths of people who are dear to us keep coming in.
We spent the rest of the time managing the countless people with serious and severe wounds, coming to our hospital. We are doing our best for them, under trees and in the parking lot with ever diminishing supplies. We will work throughout the night and beyond. No stores are open, no banks are open. Diesel is running out. Will be out in two days if we don’t find a solution, which will mean no power at all. The hospital is without water since there is some broken line between the well and the water tower.
Structural damages to the hospital seem superficial at first glance, but about half the outer perimeter walls have fallen. The old hospital in Petionville is in ruins, and teams of workers, led by Ferel, and been digging for Molly non-stop around the clock.
WE HAVE NO INTERNET. OUR PHONES DO NOT WORK. IF A CALL DOES GET THROUGH WE CAN’T HEAR OR BE HEARD. Robin has internet access through a satellite. I asked her to send this message for me, and to read my emails and answer them as best she can for now.
Please continue to pray for us. We pray for you too.
Fr. Rick Frechette
I have been home with my dying mother, as a son and as a doctor and as a priest. Daily mass, managing her pain medicines, helping in any way I can. I was determined to stay with her to the end, especially since my whole adult life I have been far from home in the foreign missions.
I have to tell you, every day at mass, when I ask mom if she has any special intentions, she says, "for you, for God to keep you strong, and for your mission in Haiti."
Now we have this huge sadness in Haiti. I told her I have to leave for a while. She said to me, "you have to go. The problems there are worse than mine."
Tonight I will drive to Kennedy Airport in New York with Conan Conaboy. We cannot fly to Haiti tomorrow, so we will fly to Santo Domingo. Kieran and Vern Conaway will meet us there, and Robin from Chicago. We will drive to Haiti together to see how we can help.
I know there is extensive damage at our new hospital, that the perimeter walls of all three of our Tabarre programs have fallen. I know there is damage to the hospital walls.
I also know there is severe damage at the old hospital in Petionville.
Lets pray everyone is alright.
I have heard that everyone at the orphanage in Kenscoff is OK.
I will not arrive until Thursday morning, since the border between Dominican Republic and Haiti will be closed when we arrive tomorrow. We will find the best way to keep you informed and let you know how you can help.
Let's stay bound together in friendship and prayer.
God bless us all. Especially the suffering people of Haiti, and my dear mother, Gerri Frechette.
Fr Rick Frechette