“God saved those two houses over there” says Pastor Martinez has he points to what looks like every other heap of ruble through Port au Prince, the capital of Haiti, as we drive through its city. This perspective on life, death and God’s will has basically summarized my experience with the people of Haiti so far. They are stronger people here. They have a lot of faith. They are not whining and complaining. “I have no time for dead bodies, I can only help the alive ones” says Pastor Marintez as he explains to us what it was like moments after the quake. “If you look really sick, or you need special attention, I will probably move on to the next one because you will probably die soon anyway. We need to save as many people as possible.” The earthquake made many people weak and to care for only the weak ones in many cases won’t go very far. If it rains, these people are already sick and will die. “So we pray to God for no rain, and he is a good God.” It’s hard to even comprehend. Some people blame God for this mess, others thank him for what was saved. I think I land in the middle somewhere; blaming and thanking.
We just arrived only a few hours ago in Haiti. We flew into Dominican Republic and stayed with a pastor there. He happened to be a Free Methodist pastor who was ordained by Bishop Bastian at the time which was a great connection. He showed us some community projects he was working on and then first thing in the morning we ran to catch a bus that would take us to Haiti. The drive there was long, hot and cold depending on how much AC the driver wanted to put on, a little nerve racking because they had our passports and hilarious because the bus was full of Hatians telling stories in Creole and you couldn’t help but laugh because they were all having such a good time.
In the bus line we met a women who we helped get a ticket (we were in line hours before hand and were still the last people to get tickets). Turns out she was important here in Haiti. She was an assistant to one of the officers of health in Haiti. It was a great contact to make as she helped explain some of the system here and helped us figure out what to expect.
Now we are finally here in Port au Prince, Haiti. I’ve never been here before so I have nothing to compare it with but the city is absolutly full. People walking everywhere, markets spread out over the sides of the roads, motorcycles weaving in and out of traffic and lots of braking so you don’t hit the random pedestrians that walk out in front of the car. You can’t miss the rubble all over the place. Entire buildings collapsed, people rumaging through the heaps of steal and cement trying to find anything that is valuable.
Two young English guys were at the bus station with us. They were pretty zealous in wanting to help, but also crazy in that they had no contacts, they weren’t here with an organization and they just kind of showed up. The exact thing that I read a little while ago in an article said not to do. We ended up leaving them at the bus station, I hope they are allright and can do some good here.
We got to Pastor Martinez’s house and we sat down to figure out what our plan was going to be. He basically said he only had a little plan, and no time to figure out anything else. So that put all the pressure on us to explain what our plan was. We know that there are ten sites that he has setup, they have distributed what they have so far in food to ther 14,000 or so people and that is it. So with only that information in mind we have the following things that we have to do.
1. Setup some sort of system so we can register and record the people who are using each distribution. This way, when we approach the UN or other larger relief agencies we can show them that we are organized and ready to roll out food and aid to a specific amount of people who need it. We have registration cards, bags and ledgar charts. We’ll see what kind of system we can put together.
2. Build relationships with other NGO’s and other relief agencies in hopes that we can somehow get Martinez’s sites into the schedule of food distribution. The food will be coming, but we need it to trickle out into our centers. We know that they meet once a morning not to far from us and we are working on some other contacts in the area so we can get the ball rolling there.
3. There is 16 medical professionals coming in on Saturday, so we want to be prepared for them so they have places to go and a proper setting to administer health care. Hopefully Rachel will be joining them in the same clinics soon, that has yet to be decided, but we should know soon.
4. Talk to Rogers to see if they will wave my roaming fees, or figure out how to get internet on at least one computer. This way we can make calls for next to nothing as opposed to the $1.50 a minute on the sattelite phone or the $3.00 a minute of roaming charges on our cell phones. This will make our lives a lot easier for the calls we will be needing to make. I am able to connect quickly to post these posts and send a few e-mails, but even that is going to cost me quite a bit. Another option is to get some type of data or 3G card for their mobile towers, but from my understanding we need to sign a contract for that.
We head out to the first two sites tomorrow morning to hopefully standardize the process a bit and get these sites being even more effective distributors of aid. We are going to bed now outside under mosquito nets because people are still afraid that there will be more aftershocks and they aren’t comfortable sleeping in their homes yet. Pray for us here, and pray for the Hatians that we are among. They are great people who are trying to help as many people as they can manage.
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