Hurricane Matthew and Our Community
Dear Friends –
In the aftermath of disastrous reports of 2010 earthquake charitable spending, we know many are apprehensive to contribute to nonprofits working in Haiti. At Aid Still Required, we know exactly where contributions are going and who they benefit. We know first-hand the world of difference your caring and compassion make.
As Hunter and I were in Haiti when Hurricane Matthew made landfall and as one of ASR’s communities was directly in Matthew’s path, we’ve spent the last couple of weeks in emergency mode, working on how to address the on-the-ground situation. I am posting here a report with a few pictures.
If you have family, friends, and colleagues who would like to give, please share Aid Still Required’s link. They will be put to good use and you can contact us at any time.
And manymanymany THANK YOUs to those who have already provided immediate support. We want to let you know what your contributions are making possible right now and to communicate how much your contributions mean to people on the ground.
#1 A few members of our community Sunday night before Matthew landfall
The situation is so devastating, it is impossible to address every circumstance right away. However, for those in need to see aid coming to them immediately and to feel the presence of those who care goes beyond words. Hunter and I were able to get to Cayes two days after Matthew’s landfall. Reporters were just arriving and the aid convoys couldn’t get through, yet we were able to get through, carrying your love and compassion with us.
A brief summary of the community and what’s been happening:
Aid Still Required’s adult literacy and vocational program is in Reno/Delma, a neglected shantytown on the outskirts of the southwestern beach town of Cayes, which was in Matthew’s direct path.
As I mentioned, Hunter and I were already in Haiti as Matthew approached. The Cayes community has no electricity and our team was unaware of Matthew’s Category 5 status and what that might mean. We were able to get to Cayes the day before ( Sunday October 2nd and Monday October 3rd to warn our team and community. Along the way, we stopped in our school community in Deuxieme Plaine to warn them as well. Though the school was not in Matthew’s direct path, the community suffered from quite a bit of flooding and high winds.
On Monday, October 3rd, after several insistent calls from the US Embassy, we left Cayes to return to Port au Prince before coastal roads flooded or were washed out. It was agonizing to leave, knowing what might lay ahead for those we were leaving behind but as my sister reminded me, we could do more good later if we were out of harm’s way. We waited out the storm in Port au Prince and were able to make contact with our team of 10 young people on Wednesday.
#2 Members of our team
By Thursday we were able to confirm that though most of their homes had been battered, roofs torn off and belongings destroyed, each member of our team and their families were alright, including the two that reside in our program’s community. Flood waters were receding rapidly so we were able to drive west through a river where the bridge had washed out.
When we arrived in Cayes, we were left without words. The community is on the edge of a main river which had overflowed, creating neck-deep waters. Homes, which had been little more than tin shacks, were either flattened or completely gone. Trees completely uprooted or tops broken off, shrubs gone, debris everywhere. There were no latrines, no electricity or plumbing available anywhere and now the community is at even greater risk of disease due to further contamination of the river where they bathe and due to food shortages. 80% of Haiti’s crops have been destroyed which will make the remaining available in high demand and expensive. Much of the livestock drowned.
#3, #4, #5 Matthew’s Storm Surge and AfterEffects
In the face of such devastation, we are greatly moved by our team and by the resilience of community members. Though our team was facing severe problems of their own, by the time we arrived, they had already met, pooled their own modest resources to see how they could serve the community. With all our remaining cash and first contributions, they have been able to create and distribute emergency kits – buckets with water purification tablets, soap, candles, matches, rice, and beans. As supplies are so scarce, It was necessary to ask community members to meet our team outside of the community to avoid any violence over fair distribution.
Pictures of Our Team Members:
#6 and #7 Jude (Simon), Jude (Francisque) and Germine distributing kits. Despite their own losses, we are delighted to see the joy they express to help their fellow countrymen and women.
Our team also voiced their commitment to re-commence our literacy and vocational program as soon as possible as a way for the community to revive hope. A neighbor was able to store books, class materials, and sewing machines on higher, more secure ground so we have the majority of supplies intact.
#8 and #9 couple of pictures of our class in action prior to the storm
We are now in discussions about next steps. These supplies will need to be replenished regularly. One ASR supporter is looking to send water sacs which supply clean water for two months. We are in discussions with another NGO who may be able to ship a half ton purification system to our community. If we get approved, it will take at least two months so we definitely need support in the interim.
Everywhere we looked in our community, indeed throughout all the affected areas, we saw Haiti women washing buckets and buckets of clothes. Freshly scrubbed laundry was spread on every available shrub, tree limb, and broken wall to dry. At this point people have no means to repair damage or likely no home or place to sleep, they have little or no food, the majority of their few possessions gone….…but the one action they can take to move forward is to wash their clothes.
#10 and #11 Drying clothes and precious stores of rice and corn.
#12 One of our elderly participants, Rita, brings a smile to my face. She may have lost her home……but she showed up to meet us, wearing her Sunday hat.
Again, THANK YOU! Please share our post with your community.
Next steps – working to get water purification supplies and roofing materials to our community.
Andrea and Hunter