An update from our Founder
In the last few decades anytime I can turn on CNN and I don’t see Haiti, I rejoice because it means that Haiti is experiencing any turmoil – there is no earthquake, no coup d’etat or assassination. For me, the absence of Haiti from CNN is a good thing because my experience with Haiti being on CNN is always about bad news.
Today at around 10am I was informed by one of my daughters that an earthquake had hit Haiti. Of course what I did immediately was to let her know that I had to go to call Haiti, our team leaders to learn how they are doing.
After several conversations with team members from Zorange and Bainet, I learned our team was safe, the buildings were standing and there were no visible physical impact. Then the conversation turned quickly to asking about our cousins, volunteers that are spread throughout Haiti, in Les Cayes or Aux Cayes and Jeremie – the two states most impacted by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake.
We got news from one of our volunteers, an Engineer, living in Jeremie and he could not stay on the phone because he was in the middle of removing people from a collapsed building. I can guarantee you this is all being done by hands with no heavy equipment. Other news about cousins in Les Cayes were that walls of their house did cave in but nobody was hurt and the house did not collapse. Their church in the city of Les Cayes was damaged but did not crumble into pancakes.
I have been receiving messages and calls from many of you throughout the day asking and wondering about the people you have worked with for more than 20 years and I’m telling you they are all doing “ok”. Given the current mental state in Haiti for the last 5 weeks and before that for more than 5 generations, I can only say “ok”.
I also have engaged in conversations with direct relief organisations. Given the news of instability in Haiti the last two years that have made us think twice about taking teams to Haiti, I have not told anyone that I will be embarking on a trip to Haiti until I was sure that we can travel and navigate Haiti without any hesitation. Subsequent conversations with team members, it appears that this past week, due to conversations between different groups and the government, passage on the southside has been possible. One of our staff traveled yesterday from Bainet to Port au Prince without incident. Our former National Director, Germain also traveled this morning to Port au Prince without incident. My team told me to check in with them early next week to understand the situations on the ground before thinking of making any plans to travel.
Although we are not a relief organization, we have more than two decades experience of working in Haiti, and collaborating with other groups and having volunteers and family members in Les Cayes and Jeremie – I am confident if there is a way to bring some immediate help or relief to one or both areas, we can coordinate it and execute it. But right now I don’t have plans to go to Haiti immediately or take someone until we have done everything that we can do to ensure safe travels to Haiti. I will send another update by the middle to end of next week to let you know what I’ve learned and what can be done if anything.
Thank you everyone who has reached out in all forms of communication. I’ve shared your sympathies and your words of comfort to the team/your partners, your friends.
We are yet again in a position that demands all of our energy to take one step, then another one and so on. But my stubborn optimism can’t allow me to think differently than that we are going to continue to take one step then another and another.