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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Helping Haiti: Haitian Kids Are Surviving on Grass Despite Humanitarian Aid Being Around

For those around Leogane, the dirt poor coastal farming town where the most powerful tremors were felt, such help is desperately needed. It is just 20 miles from the capital, Port au Prince. Yet like so many other corners of the earthquake zone - none of them far-flung - it has received only minimal assistance so far.
Mrs Bertrand's seven-year-old son Milky sat quietly nearby, his eyes wide with hunger, and an enormous right-angled gash on the top of his head, as she recalled the horrors of the previous 11 days.
Her son was inside their house playing when the 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck on Jan 12 and a breeze block fell on his head.
"I rushed back and found him and his eyes were closed," she said. "I thought he was dead. I could see his skull. I took him to the hospital but it had collapsed. There was no medicine, nowhere to go and he was in so much pain. He cried all the time."
For a week the boy suffered with his gaping head wound before a makeshift clinic opened nearby and it could be stitched up.
Leogane itself looks as if it has been carpet bombed, with between 80 and 90 per cent of its buildings destroyed. In a town of 120,000 people, the best estimate is that 30,000 have died. No-one knows for sure, as so many bodies remain under the rubble. About 500 of those are at the St Rose de Lima school, which was filled with children, priests and nuns.
The infrastructure of everyday life is gone. Banks, the police headquarters and municipal officers were all wiped out. Outside the city the lush hills where bananas grow have ruptured, sending boulders crashing down into villages.
On the road that leads 20 miles west to Leogane from the capital Port-au-Prince, deep fissures have opened up. Approaching the city a scrawled sign reads "We need help" and the countryside is dotted with makeshift tents. On the outskirts homes and shops lie in various states of collapse with concrete slab roofs concertinaed everywhere.
In Leogane everybody now sleeps under the stars and the sidestreets are lined with small, triangular shelters built from wooden-frames and corrugated iron sheets.
Inside, on mattresses scavenged from the wreckage, lie survivors with broken limbs and bloody makeshift bandages. Most of them are doing nothing, simply waiting. Others have fled to set up ramshackle settlements in the surrounding sugar cane fields and mangrove swamps.
In the centre of town more than 100 people stood praying on a grass square. An unpaved road leads from the square to the shattered shell of the city's main landmark, the 500-year-old St Rose of Lima church, the oldest in Haiti. It crumbled during a service and bodies remain below.
The façade is now a 30ft high moutainn of rubble with its giant bell sitting precariously on top. Inside, the marble altar survived without a scratch.
In the nearby Rue de l'Hopital, Rosanna Compere, 50, looked dazed as she stared at a pile of rocks that used to be her home. Four of her six children - Marise, 20, Mariemath, 15, Juerdy, 11, and Theodora, 10 – perished when it collapsed.
Tears welled in her eyes as she looked at half a dozen pairs of Mariemath's dancing shoes strewn in the wreckage.
"Mariemath was the most beautiful girl. She had dreams, big dreams. My daughter was a dancer and she loved to put on a show," she said. "She wanted to do it professionally. If that did not happen then she wanted to be a journalist on the radio. I cannot believe she is gone.
"My daughter Marise was going to be a nurse and wanted to go to work in the United States. She was going to take me there." Mention of Theodora lifts her sombre mood. She remembers how her daughter loved the Cha-cha-cha, played the saxophone and dreamed of traveling the world. Her son, Juerdy loved football. "He played in midfield and wanted to be a big star player," she said. "I loved them all so much. I miss them with all my heart. They are still part of me." There is nothing to remember the children by, not even a photograph.
Her eldest son Wisley, 29, who survived, said: "I was outside when this catastrophe happened and I came running back. I saw my house flattened. I saw my sisters dead, my brother dead. I picked them up and carried them out into the street. I was weeping. I cry even now thinking about it."
He pointed at a soft toy amidst the shards of wreckage "That was Juerdy's," he said. "And this exercise book was Mariemath's. That was what she wrote all her school things in." He shook his head as he looks at the mangled wreckage of his own bed.
The bodies of the children lay in the street for a week along with the rest of Leogane's dead before trucks came to take them to anonymous mass graves in the hills of Titanyen, north of Port-au-Prince. They were bulldozed into trenches along with thousands of others.
"We don't know where they are," said Mr Compere. "We will never know. The truck came and took them and it was so hard to let them go but we had to. We survived but we have nothing now, we sleep in the street. We need help but it doesn't come." Holding up a mini-carton of orange juice, he said: "This is all we have had so far."
Many in Leogane feel they have been forgotten by the international aid effort so there was an explosion of excitement on Friday when, a full 10 days after their city disintegrated, an articulated lorry pulled in to deliver 2,500 food packs from Germany.
Because of fears of a riot the truck was accompanied by a contingent of soldiers from Germany and Canada, and US Marines. They guarded the truck, forming a line in front of the church as thousands of people pressed forward.
There was a brief period of mayhem as the key to open the container was lost for 15 minutes. After the food was distributed many people remained empty-handed.
Monique Dasir, 23, one of the lucky ones, clutched her food pack which contained eight meals. "I was so hungry," she said. "There has been a lot of misery here. It is impossible to find food." Volker Pellet, the Geman chargé d'affaires, said: "People are desperate. There is an extreme need here so we have moved forward into the affected area."
Despite the UN having identified Leogane as the place worst affected by the earthquake the first week after the catastrophe saw only one truck full of water arrive. In a field outside the city US military helicopters have now begun delivering food packs, which were guarded by Marines as ravenously hungry people looked on.
"I wish we could hand them straight out but we have to wait for the UN to come and distribute them," said one Marine.
In addition to having no food many people in Leogane still have broken, twisted limbs and festering sores which have yet to be treated. Médecins Sans Frontières has established clinics in the area but many of the injured do not know where they are. Volunteers are being sent out with megaphones to advertise their presence.
At one clinic 12 amputations had been performed and 45 more people were waiting to undergo surgery.
"If we are not there in the first day people die. That's a life saving time," said Dr Bichet Mathieu of MSF. "The consequences in medical terms are big."
Yet many Haitians spoken to by The Sunday Telegraph spoke to, even those who had suffered with painful injuries for more than a week, expressed no anger at the tardy arrival of food and medical aid.
Their stoicism was partly based on the fatalism of voodoo, which prescribes that God decides when a person dies.
"The Haitian people do not get afraid of death. We are sure that we come back again," said Max Beauvoir, the supreme servitor and highest priest of voodoo in Haiti. "We believe that everyone lives 16 times - eight times we live as men, and eight times as women - and the purpose of life is to gather all kinds of experiences."
He said many people felt God had sent the earthquake. "They see it as an act of God, meaning God would decide to hurt Haitian people, which of course is wrong," he said. "They're not only wounded in their body alone. They are wounded in their spirits and in their mind."
As the rescue workers began pulling out of Port-au-Prince two people were miraculously pulled from the wreckage of their homes. Emmannuel Buso, 21, a tailor, survived by drinking his own urine after furniture that fell around him created a space. He was so ghostly pale that his mother thought he was a corpse but doctors said he is expected to make a full recovery.
"I am here today because God wants it," he said from his hospital bed.
Marie Carida Romain, 84, was also rescued from another building. She was being treated in hospital for severe dehydration.
Yesterday the country's interior ministry said that more than 110,000 people had been confirmed dead, with over 190,000 injured. Nobody doubts that the true total will prove to be far higher, if ever it can even be counted. North of the capital, in the wasteland of Titanyen, where the children of Rosanna Compere were buried in a mass grave, workers are no longer bothering to dig holes. Instead, they leave corpses to rot in the sun and be eaten by animals.
Adults, children and babies have been dumped in undignified heaps and left to fester. "We don't want to go there," said Wisly Compere. "We would rather remember them as they were."

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Long Lines, Signs of Desperation, Search for Water and Food in Port-au-Prince, Haiti





iPhone Service in Haiti: Continue to Use iPhone There or Use local Plan Phone?

Question:"I will be moving to Les Cayes, Haiti for about one year this May. I have an iPhone with a shared family plan with my mom and sister. Do you know if I'll get service there with my phone or would it be better to buy a new phone there to use or get a different plan, etc. Please do not just tell me to check ATT's website, I have done that already and couldn't find the information I needed."

Answer: Yes, your iphone will get service anywhere you go, but get ready to pay high fees if you are not on the international plan with AT&T. You should be able to discuss this issue with your AT&T clerk. Make sure you get coverage for ATT's international plan if you feel you have to use it while living there. Based on my own experience, it will be better and cost effective to get a phone when you arrive in Haiti. If cost is not the problem for you, then keep using the iPhone there. If you want to have more money in your pockets, get a local phone. Then, sign up with Rebtel.com

Earthquake Trapped Haitian Civil Servants under Piles of Debris, Damaged Infrastructures, Bridges, Roads and Caused Food High Prices

The strongest earthquake in Haiti in more than 200 years, measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale, rocked the impoverished Caribbean nation on 12 January at 4.53 p.m. (local time). The earthquake struck Ouest Province (population 2.2 million), with the epicentre some 17km south-west of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. The nearby cities of Carrefour and Jacmel, as well as other areas to the west and south of Port-au-Prince, were also affected. Powerful aftershocks shook a desperately poor country where many buildings are flimsy. As of the publication of this Flash Appeal (15 January 2010), thousands are feared dead, many more are injured, and unknown numbers are still buried under the rubble. The streets of Port-au-Prince are filled with people too scared to go back into their damaged homes, sleeping in the open at night amidst the bodies of those killed in the disaster.



The level of casualties sustained by civil servants and the damage to public buildings and services have significantly reduced the capacity of national authorities to lead and coordinate the response. Damage to buildings and infrastructure is widespread and severe. Port-au-Prince’s critical infrastructure such as electricity and water is still disabled. The airport in Port-au-Prince is operational (currently for earthquake-related operational flights only), but roads to and within the capital are partly blocked. Communications remain widely disrupted, making it difficult to obtain a full picture of the situation. The damage to infrastructure – such as damaged or destroyed roads, bridges, water systems, and electrical and communications systems – will inevitably affect the speed and scale of the relief effort. Fortunately, areas beyond the capital appear to be less affected, if not unaffected, by the earthquake.



At the moment there is no way to be certain of the numbers of people killed, wounded, trapped, missing or homeless. However, plotting the earthquake’s zones of intensity against population densities in this part of Haiti shows that 3 million people were in areas of ‘very strong’ to ‘extreme’ shaking, where structures would have suffered moderate to very heavy damage.[1] Early aerial surveys of Port-au-Prince bear this out. This response plan and appeal therefore are based on an initial estimate of 3 million people severely affected, in the sense of injury and/or loss of access to essentials such as food, water, health care, shelter, plus livelihoods, education and other basic needs, and on restoring and strengthening state capacities. In addition, much of the affected population will have been displaced, heightening the vulnerabilities. Because of the concentration of displaced people in Port-au-Prince, it is likely that some inhabitants will travel to areas outside the capital in search for shelter, food, medical care, etc. This would add demographic pressure on rural areas and other urban centres.



Assessments are now under way in Port-au-Prince to map comprehensively the consequences of earthquake. National and international efforts are expected to evolve and increase in the coming days and weeks. Initial international effort has focused on urban search and rescue, plus improving logistics and starting to provide large-scale aid including medical assistance and evacuation, water, food, tents and blankets. Logistics resources are paramount to ensuring delivery of relief items, and to establishing and managing camps/areas for the displaced. They will also be necessary to allow aid agencies to re-establish and scale up their capacities quickly.



Because of the damage to capacities of aid agencies themselves in Port-au-Prince, this rapid first edition of the flash appeal is based to a greater degree than usual on remote sensing, background information, estimation and inference. Moreover, because of the disaster’s scale and severity, it is being published faster than usual. For these reasons, much of the information and plans herein must be understood as very approximate. Subsequent situation reports will continually update the information, and a general appeal revision will follow as usual in some weeks when more information, better-developed plans, and participation by more organizations are possible.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Communities Outside of Port-Au-Prince: Leogane, Grand Goave, Gressier, Petit Goave

(First and third pictures are about Petit Goave. The middle picture is about one of Grand Goave's tent cities. Grand Goave has water supply issues.)




Please consider donating to CHF International, an organization that works with the communities outside of Port au Prince, in Petit Goave and Grand Goave, Haiti. Visit HelpHaitiQuake Blog to Find List of Organizations That are Helping Haiti

You can donate online or send a check, made payable to CHF International.

Help bring food, water and shelter to the people of Haiti.

TO DONATE ONLINE, CLICK HERE

TO DONATE BY CHECK, please mark your check 'Haiti Relief' and send it to:

CHF International Resource Development
8601 Georgia Ave, Suite 800
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Please make checks payable to: CHF INTERNATIONAL

TO DONATE BY PHONE, please call +1 301-587-4700.

CHF International Staff went out to report on Leogane, Grand Goave

Leogane

* MINUSTAH (UN mission in Haiti) were undertakni g a protein cookie distribution in front of Leogane City Hall to mostly women and children.
* Much of Leogane, both downtown and the surrounding area, was flattened by the quake and unconfirmed estimates put the death toll as high as 100,000. We sincerely hope this is far higher than the reality.
* Between Leogane and L'Acul we passed a destroyed water pump that is indicative of the below-the-surface damage that has crippled many wells and reservoirs in the region. Potable water is and will continue to be a major issue for the region until water supplies can be repaired or replaced.
* The Ecole National Anna Karina, a high school in the city center of Leogane, was flattened completely. Tragically class was in session at the time.
* Churches appear to have suffered extraordinary damage from the quake, with most crumbling, especially the larger structures.
* The financial system in affected cities has been paralyzed by the earthquake. While some supplies are available, prices have skyrocketed and people simply do not have access to what little money they have in the bank.
* We saw collapsed wooden houses on stilts, common in historic Leogane, a city of approximately 134,000. Many of the multi-level Leogane homes fell to the ground after the stilts and supporting beams collapsed underneath them. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that 80-90% of Leogane was destroyed by the earthquake.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Begslist.org: Cyber Begging, Digital Panhandling, Free Cyber Begging

begslist.blogspot.com or begslist.org is a good site for all of these: cyberbegging, cyber begging, internet begging, internet panhandling, e panhandling, online donations, debt help etc.

There are thousands of appeals on craigslist and on other Web sites devoted to begging, such as Begslist, CyberBeg and DonateMoney2me.com.

And the appeals are heart-wrenching. A single mom with no money to pay her bills; an unemployed construction worker about to lose his house. And, of course, lots of families who can't afford gifts for Christmas.

Certainly some of these appeals are scams, but many appear to be legitimate pleas for help.

Michael Arthur of Frederick, Md., says he debated for weeks before placing an ad called "Santa, Are You Out There?" on craigslist:

I'm a partially disabled single father with two young sons, seven and eight. They deserve to get a few nice toys and things for Christmas. They are really good kids. I don't make enough money to be able to buy them anything. … If anyone out there could possibly help me obtain a few toys for my children please let me know. I hate to beg, but I will for my children.