Monday, January 25, 2010

Here is a newsletter from the epicenter of the earthquake in Haiti

Dear Friends,

Let me try and give you a bit more update on exactly what we’re doing.

First off – the city:

PaP is destroyed. The suburb we’re staying in, Carrefour, was literally the epicenter of January 12th’s earthquake. There was one stretch today where for several miles I seemed to count nine destroyed buildings for every one that was “somewhat” intact. The people are scared; death is still everywhere, some still to be found on street curbs; no electricity at night; a nation in shock. All around are army helicopters, UN vehicles, emergency personnel from around the world…and God’s church and people working to alleviate suffering.

The need:

Many Haitians are hoping…praying that this is a new beginning. Haiti is already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The city of PaP is literally destroyed… totally and utterly destroyed. But after years…decades of corruption, neglect and abuse the people have hope…cautious hope. But imagine the challenge of rebuilding when stores, businesses, churches, schools, roads, everything is destroyed. What’s a small business owner to do when he has no insurance (no one does here) and his building is destroyed, he has no income, there are no customers (for all are now out of work) and there are limited resources… Right now everyone is still in crisis response mode. Medical teams race throughout the city looking for the walking wounded. I think there are 2 working hospitals in the city – thousands are scarred or injured yet only the most severe are being treated. Today, a team of Singaporian doctors that we’re coordinating with at the orphanage stitched up 2 kids with 5-7 inch open wounds on their legs…wounds that have festered for 10 days, but too minor for hospital care. Soon the death toll will be known, and the survivors will have to begin again…that phase will be daunting as well.

Our Role:

I’m currently here with Mark Lewis, head of TouchGlobal’s Crisis Response Team and Brian Duggan, our Latin American Director. I feel I can brag about these men because the work they did in the last week is phenomenal! Mark was/is the lead person for Reach Global’s work in New Orleans. He was down here within 3 days of the quake and has networked together to pull off seemingly impossible things in these past few days.

What happens in these crisis moments is that unbelievable amount of donations come in – coupled with unbelievable needs. But the distribution is sometimes a mess. Just yesterday CNN did a report on tons of meds in a USAID warehouse sitting there waiting to get out…but with no orders to even go out yet. This is where Mark and Brian have been so effective. Immediately they connected with strategic churches, community leaders, orphanages and other mission organizations, always looking for hard-hit neighborhoods; always looking for neighborhoods strategic in their location, but not in the heart of the city. For in the heart of the city you find major UN distribution points, and thousands upon thousands gathered waiting for the helicopters and semi-trucks. Just today we passed a field with an Army helicopter landing, with thousands surrounding the field just waiting for the needed food.

But there are still tons and tons of supplies sitting in warehouses…and tens of thousands in need…and that’s where we’re working.

1) On Saturday, Mark and Brian went into the World Health Organization’s warehouse, told them of their contacts in 3 churches, 2 community centers, one orphanage and a mission station in the hills. They said “We’ve got access to 2,000 people all without food. We have community leaders, distribution systems set up and trucks to haul the food. How much can you give us?” As a result, tomorrow we’ll be taking 5 tons of food from their warehouse out to these points and not one government form filled out! The WHO is thrilled because their resources are getting to the people. The people are thrilled because it’s “coming to them”. The community and church leaders are thrilled because they KNOW their neighborhood needs and can best distribute the needed items.

2) After picking me up on Saturday at the airport, they said “Let’s take a walk”. We proceeded to walk across the tarmac at the airport - how else do you get to the other side to talk to the Army and Navy COs? After working his way up the ranks we talked with the CO of one of the Army units and Mark told them of the orphanage they’d found – 56 kids with no food for many days, their nurse and 2 teachers dead in the rubble. He was asking for “anything” – but specifically MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), water, formula and diapers. The Army was low on resources but the CO was on board so he had one of his men take us to the Navy, where they had supplies and within 20 minutes we walked out with 5 cases of MREs, 6 cases of bottled water and the promise of diapers and formula which we picked up today. We talked for over 30 minutes with about a dozen Navy guys and gals and they were soooooo thrilled that their stuff would go to help some needy kids. One of them even pulled out an old stuffed bear and asked that we give it to one of the children, taking a picture and later emailing to him. Incredible generosity – incredible need and some incredible guys helping to fill the gap. I can’t believe I have the privilege of being along for the ride!!!

3) Today we also picked up over $5,000 worth of medical supplies for incoming medical teams and a hospital we partner with in the city of Cap Haitian. Cap Haitian is a city about 4 hours north of here, where many have fled and where medical supplies in the few hospitals are running low. Yesterday we sent up $5,000 worth of supplies – later this week this next shipment of $5,000 will go….and all because these men have created trust.

4) What is also significant is the commitment to be here “for the long haul”. Even after the crisis time passes, TouchGlobal is committed to these churches, orphanages and community leaders to help them rebuild…rebuild their buildings, but much more importantly – to rebuild lives with the love of Christ.

Well, hopefully you understand a bit more now. Sorry for the ramblings and it’s time for bed because by 5:30 a.m. we need to be on the road with 5 tons of food to get out tomorrow!!!!

Blessings Friends,


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We have been praying every day for you and Mark and the team. Your writings are so much appreciated. But no postings for a few days causes concern. We would love to have just a note to hear how you are; we do know you must very tired.

Keep On!
Wade Cureton