Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Haiti News: Post Traumatic Shock, Damage Assessment, Repair, Hydro, Haitian Choirs

Hello  Everyone,

As well as everything else to deal with following the earthquake in Haiti, we are now dealing with staff and students' post-traumatic shock, and beginning to do damage assessment and repair.

I have never doubted that what we are doing here is important and is right. These last 2 days have affirmed everything we at Starthrower Foundation have been building up for the last 12 years.

I'm also sending some pictures that Auguste (director of education) took at the center. Here's the news from Tuesday at Lakay Fondasyon:

Student Nurse Brunie with Sharon, Christmas Box USA

Post Traumatic Shock After the Earthquake (trambleman de te)

Plenitude is back safely! He and Alland and Wisly are here so I had a chance to talk to Alland and Wisly about their experiences in Leogane at the school of nursing, and Plenitude's in Port-au-Prince.

Plenitude says he escaped because his classes are in the morning.  Sadly, the afternoon students and professors were killed when the building collapsed. It is so good to see him.

Wisly and Alland, both usually quiet, talked non stop. Starthrower's center is their earthquake debriefing place. Both Alland and Wisly, like Gaby (previous update) can't wait to return to classes. The trambleman de te (earthquake in Kreyol) and its devastation strengthened their commitment to the nursing program and profession.

Brunie (4th nursing student and the only female) just left our center. She came all the way from Sen Rafayel to talk with me. Each of the nursing students now realizes how important it is to debrief: Post traumatic shock is all too real.

Bruni told me that she phoned a cousin in Sen Rafayel from the Leogane nursing school. He has a motor scooter. He came all the way to Leogane for her. They were stopped on the way back by a man with a machete who stole her cousin's jeans and shoes BUT not the bike.

Just as the male student nurses did, Brunie talks of not being able to sleep, of seeing the buildings in Leogane crumble, of hearing cries for help, and seeing bodies And like the guys, she can't wait to get back to school.

As for the students and staff in Cap-Haitien, their experience was not as graphic as the students who were closer to the epicenter.

When the earthquake struck, Auguste was sitting in the office at our center, and he felt everything move. He looked out the window and saw the trees and telephone poles bending like he had never witnessed before. He knew instantly something bad was happening. He needed to talk, too.

And Carmene, our cook, whose son was killed, also needed to talk. And everyone knows someone in Port-au-Prince who is unaccounted for or dead or maimed for life.

Food, Damage Repair
Today we've managed to buy Haitian rolls and are making cream cheese sandwiches, with banana (fig), water and tea. This morning (Tuesday), there are about a dozen kids on the gallery at the present moment.

Kenston is sleeping on a hammock and the radio is mercifully providing background. It was blaring but they turned it down with no coaching from me. One student is studying on the roof, 2 more are playing chess.

Auguste is confirming damage to students' houses and on Friday, we hope to start home visits to check damage, estimate materials needed to repair, and then hunt the city for them.

Hydro Power and Haitian Choirs
Mirak d'ayiti -- gen kourant!!  The hydro just came on! For how long is anyone's guess. Last night it was on for 10 minutes.

I had  just lit the candles when on it came. I waited the requisite 5 minutes as it's often fleeting. I had just extinguished the candles when off it went.

As I sat in the dusk, one of the many house choirs on the street started its practice. The music was so beautiful and haunting, then they went into one of the amazing upbeat hymns involving very intricate counterpoint hand clapping and finger snapping.

I listened in awe. I have the best life in the world; if not the most unpredictable.


In addition to regular staff (Auguste, Jack, Carmene, Rosenie, Joceline), we have Gaby, Fresnel, Dieugrand and Rosema working security in rotation.

Last night (Monday), I was  glad of another presence in the center as the dogs went wild about midnight. Someone was trying to enter our compound over the parking spot. Between the dogs, Gaby, and me, they were frightened off.  We heard a single gunshot shortly after but no voices.

Planes were arriving overnight also. Most unusual.

Luggage, Supplies

Sister Rosemary (see this post) just called from the Cap-Haitien airport to let me know that the lost / missing suitcases are still not there, and so she will try again tomorrow.

She said that folks who came to Cap-Haitien from the south need to register at the gymnasium if they want help. Carmene already knew that, and said her sisters are too afraid of the crowds and potential for violence.

Marjorie phoned from Canada and got through, so the lines are currently clear. I couldn't get a line out on Sunday to tell my sister I had arrived in one piece until Monday.

Another knock at the portay (gate). A vehicle entering so will close for now.

Tuesday NIght
The hydro just came back on. Thank goodness!  I was trying to tuck the moustike (mosquito net) around my bed by candle light and flashlight and it fell out of the ceiling.

I called Gaby (security) and he went to find the ti nechel -la (small ladder).

After trying a hundred keys, we opened the depot and secured the ladder. As we walked back to the house the hydro came on, allowing Gaby to hammer the net up while I held the ladder. Hope it stays put for the night.

Thanks, everyone, for your support and encouragement. I'll be in touch as soon as I have more news.


PS Here are some pictures taken by Auguste. [click to enlarge, then click Back button to return to this page]

Gaby and Sharon - Lakay Fondasyon Cap-Haitien Haiti

Alland, Wisly, Sharon - Trauma Debriefing Haiti

Lakay Fondasyon Cap-Haitien - Repairing the Generator


Daniel said...

Thank you for all the updates Sharon,they are really helpful in understanding what's going many stories...

Sharon said...


I think that you and I , along with many others, are on this planet to be storytellers. Our mediums may be different but we have a need to recount what we see and hear.
Hopefully the stories bring about understanding and empathy.They are history in the making.


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