Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Relief efforts

I wish I wasn’t posting about the earthquake everyday but that’s our life here now. For those just tuning in, my trip blog starts with the posting of sight seeing in Port au Prince one week before the quake hit.

JeanJean & Kristie Mompremier don’t seem to be worried about the food or gas supply. JeanJean said supplies are coming in or they can go to the Dominican Republic for food (he’d rather give people money so they can buy food at the local market and keep the money in Haiti). Their main concern is accessing money from their bank account to feed the 25 or so evacuees they are hosting here in Caiman, a small community). Their bank was open yesterday but they couldn’t cash checks to access funds from their UCI account (see the how to help post). But the community is really coming together to donate food and supplies, a lot of people want give. All the missionaries in the area are coordinating relief efforts for evacuees coming into town. Those who have family somewhere JeanJean sends on their way to be with their families. The missionaries will keep a list of those who need help so that people can’t take advantage of the situation and go from missionary to missionary to receive handouts.

Most everyone here at UCI (staying in the dorm next to their house) is JeanJean’s family except for a family of 6, a coworker of his brother-in-law Jehu. Jehu and the father of this family returned to PAP. They work for and AIDS organization and their building wasn’t damaged, so they can still distribute medicines. Kristie is trying to get her 2 daughters back on their home school schedule, but all the kids here are a big distraction. Public schools in the entire country are canceled, I don’t know for how long. Students from the permanently closed ones in PAP and other destroyed communities (Petionville, Jacmel) won’t be allowed to start attending schools in other communities. Kristie is considering hiring a tutor for the kids here at UCI.

I’m still meeting with Louders to teach him ecology. My new friend Chimene has been teaching me Kreyol. She returns to Cap Haitien on the north coast tomorrow. Her and her husband were visiting family here (in Bohoc, the main small town right up the road) over the holidays. They were to return to Cap the day after the quake, but ended up staying because Cap was receiving so much rain there, and the tide was higher than normal (I might be confused on this).

To free up beds in the dorm where I was staying, I moved into a room in the Mompremier’s hosue they use as a local artist gift shop (there’s a bed in it). Since we don’t have tv and radio is in Kreyol, I’m not barraged with images from PAP so the initial shock has faded for me. Going on birds hikes I can almost forget the tragedy, until a truck drives by loaded with people and their overstuffed suitcases or garbage bags filled with their belongings, or I see a group of people crowded around a hand crank radio. Though we now eat rice and beens everyday to make the food stretch, it’s still great food. Last night we had fried breadfruit for dinner. The Haitians are a jovial people so there is still much laughter here. Louiders even gave me a present of about 4lbs of coffee this morning!

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