Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sen Rafayel Haiti News, Shortages and Storm Damage Reports


Bonjou tout moun (Hi Everyone)

Although we are still cut off from the South, Claudy and Louisena managed to make it down from Sen Rafayel on Tuesday. The 28 kms (17 miles) trip took them 6 hours, and the same to return home.

The bridge that is needed to facilitate the trip has been out for almost 2 years now. With this track record for road repair and maintenance, I fear for length of time it will take to repair or replace the other 3 major bridges that were washed away during the recent storms.

We are being told it may be months before they are restored. Meantime, traffic to the Dominican Republic continues as Haitians head there to get gasoline and vehicle traffic here has been trimmed to 'manageable'.

From Sen Rafayel, Claudy and Louisena brought news of devastation and loss. Claudy estimates that about a third of the houses in the village were completely destroyed, and that about another 25 percent sustained heavy damage.

He said that people are sleeping in the ruins, that gardens and animals are all lost. This is a replay of the devastation of December 2006 that took out the bridge.

Claudy had decided to keep the backpacks in the office and then distribute after the storm. Unfortunately the office is small, only one table. The 11 back packs placed on the floor under the table were beyond salvage. We have begun to replace text books etc.

Since the village spreads over a huge geographical area, we have no idea of the number of students who have lost uniforms and shoes. The good news is that the 3 students in Cap-Haitien who rewrote Rheto exams were all successful (bon).

Because Louisena is entering Philo this year, her work with us will finish next month. The school year work load is too heavy for her to also have work commitments. Her job will be taken over by Fabiola C.

Next year Claudy enters Philo so we will be looking for his replacement as the year progresses. In this way, these young people get a bit of training in administration and workplace practices, which can only help them as they move on through school.

Unfortunately the gas shortage is impacting on necessities. The Culligan water purification plant and ice making factory in Morn Rouj has not delivered this week as they have no gas for the trucks.

We have not pumped water for the house for 2 weeks as our generator is gas driven, and of course we have no gas. We have asked Jackson (our driver) if he can sell us a gallon of gas next time his brother brings some back from the Dominican Republic.

In addition to having no gasoline, we ran out of propane on Saturday. Jack spent 3 hours in town going from place to place trying to find a refill. Half of the businesses were closed.

He finally found one tank for which we paid $700 Haitian, or $100 U.S. This is a price increase of about 50 percent, but we desperately need a reserve. Propane is our main cooking source. We must boil all water before using. We are using rain water until the generator is working again.

We are still waiting for the miracle of electricity although the state sent a boat of gasoline which arrived yesterday. Apparently it is for police, electric company (EDH), government offices etc.

I will head in to town later this morning to try bank Fonkoze again. There are donor funds we could not access last week. I'll let you know how I make out.

Pi ta (later)
Update Thursday evening:

We have had fierce thunderstorms for 3 consecutive nights, compounding the misery.

Just back from town, and the staff has departed for the day. Fonkoze able to access account, so I have some money now.

Gas scams abound. Price for DR gas is now $120 Haitian per gallon (over $17USD a gallon). Folks are selling urine in gallons. Many abandoned cars because motors have been compromised by bad 'gas'.

No way can we purchase many foodstuffs with these high prices, but many kids are becoming ill. A lot of standing water so mosquitoes plentiful. I am waiting for the first case of typhoid.

Jack said his parents place (in Sen Rafayel) still half full (half empty?) of water and they are sleeping beside it. His damage estimate is higher than Claudy's; Jack has talked to family who say about 75 percent of Sen Rafayel homes destroyed. We await word on replacing uniforms etc.

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