Sunday, January 17, 2010

Haiti Earthquake News Cap-Haitien, Port-au-Prince, Leogane, Sen Rafayel

Hello Eveyone,

News is still coming in sporadically from Haiti, some devastating, some hopeful. With no cell phone service, e-mail has been a lifeline. To upddate our previous news, here's what we know so far:

Port-au-Prince Bad News, Sad News 2 students
Frandzy and Peterson, in Port-au-Prince, until this afternoon were both still unaccounted for. Auguste just emailed to tell me that he heard from Peterson last night, who said that he is injured but alive.

However, Frandzy (Carmene our cook's oldest boy) was killed. Both were studying medical technology. Plenitude is okay.

Our sympathies go out to Carmene. Auguste reports the family is desolee. Another of her sons, Ernst, died of an ear infection about 4 years ago. Ernst was also one of our kids, who we sent to the school for the deaf (Lekol des enfants sourds).  Carmene has 2 daughters as well, both in elementary school.

Leogane School Nursing -- 4 Students

Our nursing students (see earlier post) are shaken but alive. They described the town of Leogane where the nursing school is located as 'kraze' (crushed). The school gave them permission to travel home. I am not sure how this will happen as nothing is moving up and down the Route Nasyonal.

It sounds as though the students were able to get their belongings out of the dormitory. We'll know more soon, hopefully. Obviously my concern is for these 4 kids travelling the 200+ kms (124+ miles) on their own.

BUT CNN just ran a story from the nursing school in Leogane. The students have been operating a clinic as the hospital and 90% of the town demolished.

I saw one of our students, Alland, in the clip looking every inch a competent nurse!!!!

Doctors without Borders have just arrived. The students attended to an estimated 5000 people. The mayor estimates the town has already buried about 5000 although numbers are unreliable as many are burying their family dead privately.

Thanks to Mme Jane in Georgia for responding to my query with news of our nursing students.

Sen Rafayel -- 50 students
The students in Sen Rafayel are okay, but supplies in the village are becoming scarce as transit up and down the mountain is interrupted.

Cap-Haitien Students
All schools are closed in Cap-Haitien, and the banks and government offices are also closed. With the banks closed, it is difficult to make repairs (more detail  about damage below) as we need to pay tradespeople on the spot and we do not keep a large sum of money on site.

Gas Kerosene Scarce
As shipments are not getting into the Cap-Haitien, supplies of gas and kerosene are becoming very scarce. Those with money (moyen ekonomik) are beginning to stock up.

This hoarding mentality means that the poor, who can only purchase a very small quantity at a time, will be left with no light source. As dirty and unsafe as kerosene is, it provides illumination in a very dark time.

Damage at Lakay -- No Water, No Hydro
Our house sustained more damage than initially noticed. The new water reservoir on the roof which we installed about 18 months ago has cracked. The staff did not realize this until they went to draw water and it was empty. Let's hope it only needs repairs and not replacement.

The wiring for our generator (which draws water from the well up to the roof reservoir) was also damaged and needs to be replaced. Jack sustained a shock from anba te-a (underground) so the owner's representative in Cap-Haitien was contacted.

This rep said in no uncertain terms that this was not his problem. We will handle this as we have in the past. Jack and Auguste will do what they can until I arrive.

There is absolutely no electricity! We have dealt with this before. The longest period I remember without electricity is 6 months in 2004.

House Habitable
The staff thinks that the house is structurally sound despite the appearance of new cracks. I have confidence that this is so as Jack has a great  deal of experience as a builder. He has checked everything and declared it habitable.

Students Housing Estimates,Repairs
Students continue to come in to Starthrower's center asking for help repairing damage to their living quarters (ti kay-yo).

Auguste is making a list and giving the kids appointments to come back so they can direct staff to their house. We have to do it in this manner as there are no street names or addresses. Small living spaces are very difficult to find even after having visited once before.

We can then estimate what materials are needed to make repairs and how long the work will take. With both gas, taxis, and building materials in short supply and high demand, repairs could take a while.

We need a taxi to get to the houses to make estimates, we need money to pay for the taxi and the taxi needs gas, which is in limited supply. Once we have made estimates, we'll need to purchase building supplies. All banks and businesses are closed, so the staff  literally have their hands tied.

Travel to Haiti
I will fly from Toronto to Ft Lauderdale on January 30, and purchase some supplies, then fly over to Cap-Haitien on January 31, provided the airport is open by then.

Courage Kouraj
Haitians have been through devastating times in the past. Too many, perhaps. But their 'kouraj' will bring them through this.

If food is available for purchase, we will also restart our meal program at the centre until the schools re-open. It may just be a brief time until the kids can get back to high school. However long it takes, we'll get through it together, one house at a time, one student at a time.

And again, Thank You
Thanks so much to those who have emailed and phoned with words of support an encouragement.

Thanks also to those who have donated for our rebuilding needs.

Thank you to those who let others know of our plight, and thank you to colleagues who share information.

As we learn more of the needs and conditons in Haiti, and the extra funds now needed following the earthquake, we need our Starthrowers more than ever.

Thank you, Everyone! Once I get to Haiti and can assess what's needed in  Cap-Haitien, Port-au-Prince, Leogane, Sen Rafayel, I'll let you know.

I'll also let you know when and what I hear from the nursing students making their way back home.

Kenbe pa lage



Abfab Art Studio said...

My heart goes out to everyone who has been affected by the earthquake in Haiti, and to Sharon I send strength, health and a donation to help in some small way.

You've been doing an amazing job, and Karen too, and I want you both to know that you are highly regarded for all the work you do to help these kids and their families.

Sending you lots of hugs, speedy recovery, and safe journeys. To the kids I send hugs and wish them strenght to get through this ordeal.

with love from Teena
in Australia

Karen said...

Thank you, Teena!

Bittersweet - good news with sad news today.

Thank you for all your support too.

FYI: Teena was instrumental in setting up the web site in 2004, and since then has donated tech support to Starthrower.


Unknown said...

My regrets for Frandzy and my condolences go out to Mme Carmene's family.

Daniel said...

I am so sorry to hear about Frandzy...This must be so hard for his mother and family...I'm out of words really...Will do the only thing I can do to help and donate more money in the weeks to come.

Sharon said...

Thanks Teena, Amy and Daniel. As always we are so appreciative of your support. While not everyone wants to leave a comment, when you do it assures us that we are not working in a vacuum.That reassurance is especially appreciated during this time of confusion and sadness.
A special thanks to our administrator, Karen who has managed to respond to all inquiries while working on an unfamiliar computer from Costa Rica thereby keep our site from crashing. I can only hope that the increased volume of folks accessing our site continues as we move forward. We can only do it to-gether.

Beni tout moun

Healing Out of Hoarding said...

I wrote this poem for Carmene and her family.
I posted it to my FaceBook page, with a link to here.

About Haiti

I do not know everything about Haiti
but I do know, grief is grief.
People in mourning don't need
judgement. They need compassion.
They need to be taken to heart.

I do not know all of the stories of Haiti,
but I do know this one. I grieve
with a lady named Carmene
who works as a cook.
Her eldest son Frandzy,
a fine young man, a diligent student,
is now dead in this disaster.

And she must get through this now
for the sake of his little sisters
still in elementary school.

Let me tell you, world,
Listen well.
No one deserves such sorrow.
It tears the heart.
Makes it hard to keep breathing.

Yet the Haitians are a people of dignity
and great courage.

So this lady bears with
pain that no one ever deserves.
Bears it twice,
for Franzy's younger brother Ernst
had already died, years before.

Take her and her family to your hearts
oh please. Give them understanding
and kindness.
Act with compassion.


I've sent a donation,
It didn't feel like enough.
So I send my heart too
in these words.

Bless you all, Peg

Karen said...

Thank you, Peg

There is nothing more for me to say, but thank you.

Healing Out of Hoarding said...

Apologies, I missed a d the second time I typed Frandzy's name in the poem. I was crying.

Karen said...

Hi Peg

It's okay - I missed it too for the same reason.

Sharon said...


Thank you for such a heart felt tribute to Carmene and her family. Your words are inspired and inspiring. We can't begin to know all of the tragedies that continue to unfold but your words honour them all.



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