Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dickie's Trip to Haiti

I left Halifax Friday morning after a bad drive from Kentville with Kim. It was storming very bad. We were late leaving Halifax because we had to wait an hour in line to de-ice. It was a good that I had a 4 hour lay over in Toronto. I retrieved my bag at US Customs and filled out my form. I got in line and when I told him how much money I was carrying he stamped my form and took me to secondary screening. I waited an hour and then was told I had to report the money to Canadian Customs as well. I went down stairs and waited 45 minutes and filled out more forms. Back up stairs for another wait and more forms. I finally got to Security and had to empty both my bags as the cheese showed up in one and the yogurt and cream cheese in the other. I was standing in front of 200 people with no belt, holding up my pants and no shoes, repacking my stuff. I got down to the gate and grabbed a sandwich and left $9.00.
When I got to Miami I got my bags and started to look for Carol Cole. She had to walk a long piece and I only waited 10 minutes. We took the Shuttle to the Hertz garage and after a long while we eventually got a car. I did not have a Reservation and that was the only problem. The guy at the counter said no cars. I asked to speak to the Manager and we eventualy left with a car. The drive to Fort Pierce was 2.5 hours. That is where Missionary Flights International flies to Haiti. We stayed at the new Holiday Inn for $55.00 as well the Hertz car was half price. All because we were going to Haiti on MFI. I dropped my stuff in the room and went to the Business desk and printed out a map to MFI. This was 11:15pm. I found it no problem and the manager was just leaving. He checked the passenger list to make sure we were on it. He also said we could leave the rental car and they would take care of it. That made my sleep much better knowing where to go in the morning.

On the way to the Airport MFI flies out of I had passed a gas bar with 4 police cars parked having coffee. I figured it was safe even though they were long gone on my way back to the Hotel. I was wrong. It was the most sketchy place at 12:30 am I was ever in. I convinced my self that I was going to be robbed by a gang of 12 or more coming at me. I took off out of the parking lot and back to the main drive. In my haste I forgot to turn on the lights and a police car came up behind we with all lights blaring. I pulled to the shoulder of the street and waited forever for him to come over. Then I heard a loud voice on a speaker. Pull into the next driveway. On the third time I heard it I figured, He's talking to me. So I pulled in to the next street and waited and waited. Then I heard him again. Turn of your engine. I did. Then he said, Look straight ahead. I did. Then He said, Put your hands on the top of the steering wheel. I did. He came over and said, Can I see your driver's card? I said, Can I take my hands of the wheel? At this point in the exercise it was probably the wrong question. Long story short he said before driving again learn to turn on the lights. I went to the Hotel and slept soundly .

We had to be at the Airport at 8:00 am. We left for Haiti at 10:45. We were treated like kings for the entire morning. The DC 3 we were to go on left with freight and I was not keen on flying in a plane manufactured before I was born. Mel Newell, Mike Smith, Lloyd Sweeney, Ralph Cleveland and other Nascar fans - we flew to Haiti on JOE GIBBS RACING TEAM plane. We had his Chief Pilot, Co-Pilot and Stewardess. Treated again like Kings. They had flown 7 days straight. Leaving tomorrow for the Daytona 500. There was 31 on board and I was the only Canadian. Carol and I and the rest were Doctors or Residents. We got through Customs in PAP and on the road in 30 minutes. I drove to the Compound and we we met by some familiar faces.
The route we planned to take next week through the DR is now too dangerous for anyone because of the bandits. Some of the doctors on board were telling us that US citizens using this route have to be in an armed convoy.

I am heading for my tent, I am exhausted.
Dickie

Friday, January 29, 2010

Very Sad Day


December 2008 - Serlande with a beautiful smile and a kind heart.

It is with a lot of sadness in my heart that I write this. My precious 18-year-old daughter, Serlande, went to be with the Lord today. I can say it this way, because Serlande had accepted the Lord and was truly serving Him. Serlande had diabetes, but we expected her to live a long life. We had many times discussed her future and made plans together. It, however, was not to be.

When Serlande became ill she could not be seen by a doctor for four days due to the numerous life threatening injuries caused by the earthquake. The hospital, and the grounds outside the hospital, were filled to overflowing. Too, when she was finally seen by a doctor she could not get necessary medical tests due to huge lineups for lab work. Serlande was admitted for the second time 2:00 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19th. She has been in the hospital since then. Her blood sugar levels kept swinging up and down but it was finally stabilized. Numerous tests were done. There were, however, some other things the doctors wanted to check but could not due to lack of supplies for the tests. Due to the quake these things were not available anywhere in Haiti. The doctors did everything possible for Serlande but I felt that sometimes they were working with their hands tied, so to speak.

This photo of Serlande and I was taken less than an hour before she died. When she took her last breath I was very thankful that Luckner was at the hospital with me. I rushed home to tell my other children myself, and also to tell the employees. Luckner handled the hospital and morgue end of things for me for which was a tremendous help.





I am very happy that my wonderful brother-in-law, Dickie will be arriving tomorrow. Too, I am really thankful that a friend, Carol, from the US, is arriving with Dickie. God is sending in necessary support. Next week, my brother, Don, who has been here a few times already, my brother, Ken, coming for the first time, and my cousin, Jim, who was here with the workteam, and evacuated out with the group after the quake, are arriving to help as well. I am truly feeling the need to have them here. I am so looking forward to being able to relax and letting someone else carry some of the load with me. They will all sleep out in the yard, along with Ti Luc and I. Until the necessary changes and repairs are made there will not be anyone sleeping inside this house.

I will continue to try and blog regularly. While I have others here I will encourage them to do some as well, to tell how things are here from their perspective.

All schools in Haiti have been closed since the earthquake. Today the repairs on the damage to our school were finished. If, however, the government announces that schools will reopen on Monday we will not due to Serlande. Her death will affect every student and teacher in our school. We will remain closed next week in honour and respect for Serlande and for my other 'HATS' children.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sad news

It is Liette here, Karen's daughter and it is with a very heavy heart that I post this message this morning.

I have just gotten news that it does not look like Serlande is going to make it through the day. Karen and Mommy Cecile are taking the children up to the hospital to say goodbye one at a time.

The doctors were just not able to find out what was wrong and because of the huge numbers of injured from the earthquake, the hospital ran out of laboratories supplies. The doctors tried valiantly, but have not been able to locate the supplies needed to run additional tests. The specialty hospital in Port-au-Prince has been destroyed and despite frantic phone calls to collegues in the US by the American doctor who is treating her, they have no idea what Serlande is suffering from.

Please pray for a miracle.

Please pray for Karen, for mommy Cecile and for all of the children.

I will post an update as soon as I hear anything.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Serlande Update

There is not much I can tell you today other than my time is spent running from the hospital to the mission site. We have five projects to do in restoring the mission from the damage due to the quake. Two are underway - the school and the Water Tower Construction. We have a problem with getting enough rebar. And what we are finding is 30 % higher today than yesterday. Life is so very difficult in Haiti now in everyway.

I am at the hospital more than at the mission. My precious Serlande is not doing well at all. Please continue to pray. Thank you.

I want to explain why I call Serlande my daughter. It is because to me, and to her, - she is my daughter. My children who live here at the Children's Home at the mission are not in an institution type setting. They are my children and I am their mother. If you hear me say I am alone here - it means I do not have any Canadian or Americans with me to help carry the load. I shoulder the load but I do have a family. I have children who are totally dependent on me, their mother, and on you guys the financial supporters. Thank you for the financial support both past, present, and future for these precious children.

I must admit to being scared this morning. Serlande's doctor, a 'blan' lady who has known Serlande for four years looked just as scared as I did. She is very open and honest with me. She was doing everything in her power to figure out what was going on with Serlande and what to do about it. She has done a multitude of tests. She desperately wants to do a few more but the hospital does not have what she needs to get them done. The things she needs are not available in Haiti right now. Help, Lord. What a situation we have in the country. Willing doctors whose hands are often tied due to lack of medical supplies.

I am not comfortable being away from the hospital anymore, so I am heading back again.

Thank you for your continued prayers for my girl. God bless you all.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A very sick daughter

The work is started on the foundation for the water tower. Due in part to the rising cost of materials in Haiti in the wake of the earthquake, the repairs are going to cost significantly more than we orginally thought. We have to go ahead and do the work and are trusting that the funds will come in. Thank you to everyone who has contributed so far!



The school was also badly damaged in the quake. Two walls are completely down. The debris will need to be moved and new walls constructed. This is a priority so that we can soon get our children back to school.





Serlande, own of my "daughter" in the children's home si gravely ill. She has been in hospital for a week now and we thought on Sunday that she was getting better because she recognized me and asked for water.
Now, Serlande has taken a turn for the worse again. She is having difficulty breathing, is unresponsive and is on oxygen. She has already been on IV antibiotics for a week but is getting worse. The hospital needs to do some urine and blood tests but does not have the materials.
I am going now to see her doctor and ask if I can maybe find the testing materials in St. Marc. Please pray for Serlande!
Karen





Monday, January 25, 2010

Cloning Karen?

Today the blog will be short. I am tired - very tired.. I am too tired
to write much and most likely too tired for my words to make sense. I
can't be three or four places at the same time - St. Marc to bank, hospital with Serlande, onsite dealing with workers who are digging foundation, here seeing that everything runs properly and as normally as possible, spending time with my children who are crying out for Mama, and planning for more repairs on site. I am getting more fatigued every day.

This morning I left 6:30 a.m. for St. Marc. Odner and I arrived to find a line up already in place outside the bank door. Odner quickly joined the line to stand there for me. I sat in the truck and had some prayer time. After 1 1/2 hours the assistant director of the bank came outside and saw me sitting there. He had seen me Friday and knew I had stood in line a very long time. He walked across the road and spoke to me and asked it I needed something from the bank again today. I said I needed something from the bank - still. He was surprised to know I had gotten nothing on Friday. So, to make a long story short he took a cheque from me and my ID. After three trips into the bank and back to my truck he brought me out an envelope with the cash I had requested. The bank door still had not opened. Now is that service or is that service!!!! Mind you the cash was all US. They had no Haitian gourdes. I went to the supermarket to change it but the owner said he would not be receiving
any Haitian money until this afternoon. For me to come back. Yeah
right! I have nothing else to do of course.

I have already used 95% of the funds I got from the bank this morning on construction materials for the water tower and was able to do so with US $. Now I am almost completely out of funds again, but the construction can move ahead on that project.

On the weekend we had two more aftershocks. One was quite strong. I was sitting at my computer and had my little, Ti Luc, next to me. He
was helping Mama with her work. Yeah right! I felt the floor move and
saw my desk sway so grabbed Ti Luc and ran into the yard. My other kids and the housemother had also run into the yard.

I've been approached by a couple of people about the possibility of taking two children who lost their family in the quake. I've said I would be very willing to speak to whoever was looking after the children about this possibility. The children are not yet in this area, so we will see what develops.

Today I was able to speak with two people in Canada - Mary Heaton in Yarmouth got through to me. I sensed a real desire to help for which I am extremely thankful. Too, I was able to finally speak with CBC Radio, Corner Brook, Newfoundland. This, too, pleased me as I sensed they cared about me, my kids and about what was happening to all the people here.

I spent time with Serlande this afternoon. She was very thankful and relieved to have me there. She cried when I left her and asked me to come back right away. I am going back now for a short time and then I absolutely must come home and go to bed. Rest and sleep I must get
tonight !!!!! I plan to go to hospital to be with Serlande tomorrow
morning by 7:00 a.m.

Anybody out there in the cloning business?? Perhaps you could make a
few more Karen's so I could keep some of this going a little better.

If any of this does not make a lot of sense, perhaps tomorrow's will be better.

Thanks for tuning in. God bless you all.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hospital staff working round the clock

I spent four hours at the hospital this morning with my precious daughter, Serlande. She is doing a little better again today, so she is on the mend. Thank you, God. Today she recognized me and asked where she was. How sweet it was to see her eyes open and hear her voice.


While there today, again I saw a tremendous amount of suffering. To hear the moans, the screams, and the crying of intense pain was almost more than I could handle. I had to shut myself down inside and just call out to God to help the suffering of the people. Many people are lying around waiting to go to surgery. The nurses are doing what they can to help them while they wait. I saw bandages being changed this morning. No matter how gentle the nurses were the people would yell and cry in agony. I saw bones sticking straight out through skin, flesh that looked like it had gone through a grinder, limbs, heads, and bodies wrapped like mummies waiting to go to the operating room to be fixed. O dear God, the people need relief from their suffering. I am so very thankful for the doctors and nurses who are working more hours than they should to try and help the people. I am thankful, too, for those who are voluntering their time to do whatever is necessary, and to those who continue to bring food and water into the hospital to the injured and their caregivers.

Today I was blessed with phone calls from Gerry Rhyno and from Sandra and Dickie in Yarmouth. Oh how wonderful it was to speak to the three of them. Gerry and I had not finished our converstaion when we lost connection. We both tried to reconnect with each other to no avail. How wonderful it was to hear their voices. Oh how I hope the telephone service will last. Communication is so important but was cut by the earthquake. Many of you have written me with questions, suggestions, and offers of help. I am sorry about not getting back to you but it is almost impossible. If your e-mail requires a response you will most likely hear back from Gerry or Sandra and Dickie. Thank you for understanding.

Thank you for the financial support that has been going to the mission address in Yarmouth. Every dollar donated to HATS will come down to help Haiti. There will be nothing used for administration. All the administration work is done by volunteers. The funds will help get the mission buildings repaired so we can operate properly again, and into the hands of a lot of people who are desperate for help. Some of those people are our own employees. Some of them, too, have received damage to their homes, have loved ones lying injured in the hospital, or need to bury their dead. I will continue to use funds to help the people and class it under our 'Mercy Ministry' heading. The people need 'mercy' support right now.

I must get to the bank. I plan to ask my Chief Security, Odner, to go to the bank around 4:00 a.m. tomorrow and stand in line for me. Hopefully, tomorrow I can make it as far as a telller. One thing I know, I cannot stand in a line in the heat for 3 hours ever again. This weekend a store in St. Marc let me purchase plywood and 2 x 4s without paying. Now how about that!! He knew I had stood in line at the bank to no avail. He knew I needed the wood and he trusted me to come and pay him when I do manage to get into the bank. I hope I can take his money to him tomorrow.

Now I am off to the hospital again and taking Sabine up to see her sister. I believe that Serlande will know today that Sabine is there to see her,

Thanks for your continued prayers.

Startling Statistics

Hello all,

I have been diligently searching, in all my spare time - lol - for some information on the earthquake and what is happening here. I wanted info from people who live in Haiti as it would be more accurate. I've spoken with people from Port au Prince and people in our area. This morning I heard from my friend in PaP and she gave some data. I am taking some of hers and what I've been able to gather from others and pass it on to you.

It is estimated that 50% of the population of Port au Prince have been displaced by the earthquake, or roughly 1.5 million people. The death toll is estimated at 120,000 people; but that is expected to rise a lot as many bodies are still under rubble. At this time there are more than 500 settlement sites (some call them tent villages) throughout PAP holding about 500,000 persons--some think this swells to much more at night for sleeping.

Already approximately 130,000, that are known, have taken up the Haitian Government on its offer for free transport to the provinces. Thousands, however, have gone without going through the government. Two doctors I spoke with think the number leaving PaP to resettle elsewhere is much higher. This means that the outlying settlements like ours are going to overflow with people in need.

According to my friend Judith, too, roughly half of the people in temporary settlements in PaP were receiving water supplies as of yesterday (those at the most densely populated camps) and more than 100,000 have received other non food aid, such as plastic sheets, cooking utensils, etc. Five-people (family) tents are on the way, and there are plans to build six longer term settlements around PAP. More than 1 million food rations have been distributed and 100 metric tons of ready to eat food are expected on Wednesday.

PAP airport is now receiving flights 24 hours per day, and about 130 planes land daily. Soon the land convoy system will be completed between airports in the Dominican Republic, which will take the strain off of PAP airport. These convoys run twice daily and are not meeting with untoward delays at the border. About 1/3 of the port of PAP is now operational and about 300 containers per day will soon be able to be offloaded. YEAH! This is our main resource for food and fuel importation. Although the UN clusters (the coordinating bodies of the crisis) are estimating that there is about three weeks' worth or fuel in the country, the prices have skyrocketed, as they have for food.

Another piece of perspective... Although the overall loss of life may still be higher from the tsunami of 2004, there has rarely been such a extensive loss of life in such a concentrated area before in all of history. Thus the PAP earthquake will set precedents in what to do and not to do in anything of this magnitude. It's setting the baseline that future crises will be measured against. Given the horrendous, unprecedented, unpredictable crisis that befell Haïti, I believe that the response has been as prompt as possible.

Aftershocks are continuing and some of them quite strong. I feel a need to get repairs done before more structural damage occurs.

Gangs of theives have been formed in the Port au Prince area. I was told that voilence and stealing would happen like this as there were 6000 criminals who escaped when the jails collapsed in the quake. It is now a problem. The precious people do not need to fear something else now - armed gangs.

Please pray for strength, wisdom and mercy for those who are working with the injured and with those who have been displaced. The fatigue and stress that everyone is trying to handle is starting to show. I see it in myself and in others around me. I saw it at the hospital this morning while there with Serlande. The nurses and doctors are very tired. They have done and are continuing to do a good job. I am impressed. But the fatigue is showing. People were being yelled at this morning.

My friend, Judith, put it this way - Just as our earth has weakened spots that tend to crack under enough pressure (ergo, earthquakes), human weak spots tend to show up much more clearly under these circumstances. And what she said is the reality here. Us humans can crack too.
Sometimes I think I might crack but God's grace and mercy keeps me going. Last night I cried out to the Lord for some real sleep. I got it and I see the results of that today. Lack of sleep, being overtired, too much stress, and not eating regularly does take its toll. I am trying to do what I can to take care of myself. Please continue to pray for me.

Mme Kouri Kouri

My plans for today were to be at the hospital with Serlande for 4-5 hours, spend time with my kids, and do some computer work that I am very behind on - a large part of which was to have been e-mail correspondence. For some reason I've been unable to send or receive e-mails today. I sent out an SOS to Tim (the master computer geek) who was here with the team recently. It was Tim and Jim who set up the new computers and the new software and got me up to date and up and running. I knew he would know what was wrong and what to do about it. One small problem - Tim is in Halifax and I am in Haiti. Due to a multitude of things the guys did not have the chance to teach me what I needed to know. Anyway, Tim got busy working on it today and it is doing better if not yet completely as it should be. Hopefully I will be able to get this out tonight.
Couldn't face going back to St. Marc today even to see if the bank was open. It is normally open on aSaturday morning. My daughter, Dana-Lynn, had a good suggestion. That I send an employee to sleep outside the bank for some hours and then I go in and change places in the morning. Might have to do that next week.

Early this morning I put Ti Luc in Sabine's hands, went to the hospital and spent the morning with Serlande. I see another tiny bit of improvement today which encourages me a great deal. Obviously the antibiotic they are giving her is starting to work. She still does not respond when spoken to but she does now mouth the word "water". Too, we can now sit her up to pee which is a far cry from having to change her bedding and clothing constantly. A 'blan' doctor who worked at HAS and who knows Serlande and her diabetes health problems arrived back at the hospital late yesterday afternoon. I don't remember when I was more happy to see someone than I was to see her in the hospital last night. She is now in charge of Serlande's care and she is someone I can talk with easily and readily. Thank you, God.

I knew I would be needed here on the compound today as well as at HAS. Having to be in several places at once is very tiring due to the constant running back and forth. Take care of one and run off to the next. Take care of that and then run to the next. I think my nick name should be "Run Run' or in Haiti it would be "Mme. Kouri Kouri (Run Run)".

A temporary storage depot room was being constructed with plywood today in the meeting/devotion room close to my house. I still have space left for our morning devotions and staff meetings.


Storage space in the meeting room.

Too, behind my house the land was being measured and marked for a foundation for a structure that would hold the four water tanks and give me storage space underneath. I do not like wasted space and storage is a high priority here. More planning is needed but hopefully construction can get underway soon.


Measuring the land

The hospital continues daily to have lots of new injured patients arrive from Port au Prince. Some have been released but immediately someone else takes their place. The wards are packed solid - far too many beds, but they have no choice. While I was with Serlande today a dressing was changed on a man's arm next to her. I have watched him suffer a lot for a couple of days. Yikes, no wonder. Today I saw the arm uncovered and I almost passed out. Such suffering by so many.

A man who looked very sad talked to me about his brother. He had gone to PaP and found his body. He placed him in a morgue and notified the family. He went back to the morgue on day 3 but could not find his brother. He was told that since there was no electricity in the city the bodies had to be taken away and put into the mass grave outside of Port. He was having a hard time dealing with it. A lady came to talk to me, and ask for help. Her brother had been standing on a road in PaP and an antenna fell on him splitting his head open. She got him back here to the hospital hoping they could save him, but his head injury was too bad. She wanted a little help to bury him.

You know that Ti Luc and I sleep outside in the yard every night in one of the small mosquito tents. I was able to make my escape from the tent early this morning while my little guy was still asleep. At one point when going to check on Ti Luc I could hear the zipper opening. I stayed out of sight but watched what was happening. He was chatting away, the way he does, saying he was coming in the house. He was opening the zipper himself with his feet. When he got it open he had the biggest smile. I could not resist a photo.


One proud litle boy

Despite all the running around I did trying to take care of everything I made some time for my precious kids. I am adding a photo of my newest one - Judel who is two years old. When he joined this family he was terrified. Not for long though. He is the cute, mischievous and very lovable. Ben, one of our team members, who came back for the second time, is grandpa to Judel. Ben's son and daughter-in-law are sponsoring Judel for the orphanage.


Spending time with the kids


Our newest addition: Judel

Thank you for all the support that is coming. Thank you. Continue to pray for me please, for health and strength so I can continue to do what is required here.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hanging on

Today started early - very early - 3:20 a.m. and I did not get back to bed. No wonder I look like something from another world - eyes red and swollen. Could fatigue possibly have a little to do with it? Perhaps a lot to do with it?

Ti Luc and I are still sleeping in a small 'one person' tent in the yard. He loves it because he is sleeping with his mama. I love being near him but I pay the price because he is a major squirm bug. Yesterday, I hardly saw my boy as I was at St Marc, hospital, and running around due to the roof being poured. He was with Sabine and other kids. I tend to give Ti Luc a lot of water during the day. And nothing after 6:00 p.m. Well, I was at the hospital until 9:00 p.m. Vladimy fed and bathed him and got him ready for bed. Ti Luc was thrirsty so Vladimy gave him water, and more water, and more water. Guess what woke me up? Yes, a horrible feeling of wetness. He was wet and so was his mama. So there I was 3:20 a.m. in the dark trying to carry my heavy, soggy, smelly bundle of joy from the tent to the house in blackness. Then into the shower we went. Afterwards he played and I worked.

At 7:00 a.m. Odner and I headed to St Marc so I could be close to the front of the line to get into the bank. Yeah, right! We arrived at 7:40 and the line was as long as yesterday at 10:30 a.m. Odner spoke to some people at the end of the line and they said they were in line for Western Union and the bank line was much shorter. Yeah, right!! I wanted to believe that so I did. I entered the line where I thought the bank line up started and passed lots of people and went to what I thought was the end of the line. Yeah, right!!! I heard someone make a 'not so nice' comment about the blan that I chose to ignore. A young man that I recognized from the day at the beach with the team, was in the line up where I stopped. He recognized me too and told me I could stand in front of him. That is when I realized there were people behind me and I had not gone to the back of the line. Some people made more comments. I pretended I did not understand. I told the young man I was not a line jumper and would go to the back of the line. He proceeded to show me the back of the line which was across the front of the bank and down the street to where I had parked the truck. I was shocked and then told him that after looking at that perhaps just this once I would be. He assured me it was okay because I did it in innocence. The innocence part was gone by then, but I stayed put and he stuck up for me. I was desperate enough to get into the bank to stay in that lineup. Not something I would ever consider doing in normal situations. Normal?? What is that anyway?

I stood in the line up for an hour and the bank had still not opened. People had started to get restless, and a few were more than restless. People were hot, tired, and frustrated. Today was day 10 since the bank had been open. They were hungry and wanted a little money. Some pushing started and I ended up against the wall with very little breathing space. I felt like perhaps someone had put me in a sardine can only, as it was still early in the day, we smelled a little better. I had someone big and tall in front of me so could see nothing. It was not a smart or safe place for one little old white lady to be by herself. But I did not give up easily. I wanted and needed to get into the bank. I heard a commotion in the line closer to the bank door and excitedly thought it was opening. Yeah, right! It was 3 men in UN uniforms and three Haitian police who had arrived and started to get order. Bank officials came in and out and I spoke to one that I knew. He said to stay in the line they would be opening soon. Yeah, right! Another hour passed and I was starting to fade. Again I was advised to stay in line - a couple of more minutes only. Yeah, right! At the end of hour three I decided that nothing was worth one more minute in the dumb line. Plywood, 2 x 4's, rope and groceries had long lost their interest for me. I had one thought only - get out of there and head home. What a waste of my valuable and extremely stretched time!! While there I was needed at the hospital. The doctor was looking for me re Serlande.

Back home and then up to the hospital. I have been back and forth there 5 or 6 times. Serlande is a tiny, very tiny, bit improved. She is still completely unresponsive. She, however, is not thrashing around and rolling all over the bed, as she was. She is now on antibiotics for a very bad infection.. Hopefully tomorrow I will see a little more improvement. Her chart said cystites ?? and sepsis. I will go up again in the morning and spend some time with her. While there, with Serlande, I was needed here re supplies being delivered.



And while at St Marc and the hospital I was needed here by Ti Luc and the other children. Too, it was important for me to be in the office getting some of the ton of work done. Unless someone comes to help me or I am cloned I guess things just continue as they are. Not the best solution. Help, Lord.

While at the hospital today I saw a lot more people brought in with injuries sustained in the quake. The suffering is unbelievable. People were crying due to the pain they were suffering. And people were crying due to the death of their loved ones. So much pain, physical and emotional. The doctors and nurses are doing a good job. They are overtired and stretched to their limits too. But they keep going. The hospital has thanked me many times for the supplies I took up, so I pass those thanks on to you. Tonight I was told that if more medical supplies should come my way they would be very thankful to be on the receiving end again.

The roof is now drying on the accommodations for support missionaries. Still a ton to be done before it will be livable but I am excited and very thankful to see what is done. Today supplies - cement blocks and cement - was delivered to the compound to start on the next project - the water tower. I want to see that project get underway quickly. I need to get those water tanks off the top of my house. It will, however, take time and money. In the meantime I will continue to sleep in the yard. I've decided to kill two birds with one stone and make good use of the bottom section of the water tower. I will use it for a storage unit for things for the orphanage and for my place. When we do build a storage building later it will not need to be as large as originally thought.

I am falling asleep while trying to do this so must quit while I can.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Fundraising Event: Haiti 911- Okanagan

Hi all, it's Dana, Karen's daughter in Kelowna. On Saturday Jan 3oth we're holding a fundraising event. 12-4pm at Okanagan College.

The event includes:
  • Performances by many talented local groups - details to follow
  • Feature performance by 3 members of Masabo, a Vancouver group of West African Master Musicians & Storytellers
  • Silent Auction with over 50 high quality items!
  • Raffles and 50/50 draws
  • HATS Student/Staff Sponsorship Information
  • Epicure Selections Sampling and Sales
  • Krispy Kreme donut sales
  • Testimonies of Haitian-Canadians adopted into Canadian Families
For more info check out our event on facebook at Haiti 911 - Okanagan. If you know anyone in the Okanagan please let them know about our event!

I can also be reached at 250-769-3262 or spicelady@telus.net

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The challenges continue

Today has been extremely busy. Lots happening as usual.

I have been back and forth to the hospital to be with Serlande. I covet your continued prayer support please for my precious daughter. Serlande is quite ill. She is not talking or eating. She is conscious but very unresponsive. Speaking to a doctor has been impossible because of the number of patients at the hospital due to the quake. Today I decided I was not leaving until a doctor would talk with me. There is obviously something very wrong and I can't let her fall through the cracks. I persisted while talking with nurses. I don't think they cared about my attitude but the squeeky wheel gets the grease. I think because she is diabetic and her blood sugar was high they put it down to that and looked no further. But, I know there is something else wrong too. I saw a doctor that I know walk in and I jumped on it. He took a good look at Serlande's file for me and then came and examined her while I was with him. He decided she needs to leave the area she is in and be moved unto a ward. He told me he saw from her urine test that her white blood count is extremely high. He agreed to stay close to her from now on. Now I have someone I can look for help from. That pleases me a lot. He agreed to do x-rays of her stomach area. Yesterday two people who had been lying next to her died. At that time I was thankful that Serlande did not realize a lot of what was happening around her. It has not been easy having someone with her all the time. I now have Germaine staying with her at night, Antoinette and Cecile changing during the days. Cecile must be here at night.



How do you know you are getting almost no electricity? When your Epicure chocolate melts in its container in the fridge and your margarine turns to yellow soup. Living like this now, I am thankful that the team are in their own homes with electricity 24/7. How nice it would be!!!!

One of our security agents, Herve, is going through a rough time right now. His wife died on Monday. She was 30 years old. Their baby died this past year having lived only a few days.

Today the cement roof was done on the housing project that the team worked on. They are finishing it up now. I just prepared the days payroll for 41 workers. This morning was a copy of last January. The cement mixer arrived with the operator and no gas again. They are supposed to bring gas with them. Remember last January folks. No gas to be purchased and us running to Luckner's to get a gallon of gas for the mixer. Then the accident happened when coming home. There is an extreme shortage of gas again due to the quake. Luckner had to drive some distance this morning before finding a gallon of gas to purchase.



There is a real shortage of a lot of things and it is going to get worse. There is a shortage of money as well as everything else. Today I went to St. Marc. and the streets were far more crazy than normal. I went into two supermarkets and in both the shelves were almost bare. I brought home what I could find we use regularly. I went to St. Marc so I could go to the bank and then purchase plywood and 2 x 4s. Well, let me tell you, nothing was important enough for me to get in the lineup. The bank itself was so full they had to close the doors until someone came out and let one more in. The gallery in front of the bank was full as well as a long line down the street. There was no way all those people would get served today. Will it be any better tomorrow? I hope to go early, get in the line and see. The radio is saying that the maximum anyone can withdraw at one time is $2500 US or $20,000 H. It might sound like a lot to some but is not when having to purchase supplies for repairs all around the compound.





Today, another aftershock happened and the workers saw the fence sway a little. We are keeping the children away from it until we can make repairs. We do not think we will have to redo the whole fence. We do, however, need to replace some sections and reinforce some others.

I have two people willing to come and help me. I need both. My problem is how to get them into the country. Carol is from the US and hopefully my brother, Don, from eastern Canada will come. If they come, I will do the hallelujah dance. I sure need their help. I am stretched, far too stretched. I have the place to run. Ti Luc to care for. Serlande not at all well - back and forth to hospital. Employees off with problems. Major repairs to organize and get done. Trips back and forth to St. Marc to do. And time to talk with people who come regularly now looking for help they need desperately. All this while continuing to sleep outside in a small tent with my boy. Not as condusive to a good night sleep as my bed. But God is good. And his grace is keeping me going.

The members of the Texas team that were to follow the Canadian team on Jan 29th are now looking at coming February 26th. Perhaps three of them, who were here last year, will come earlier and assess what might be best for the team to undertake late Feb.

I have had many people here looking for help. Two examples today - a man I have known for some time came to ask for help. His daughter was injured in PaP. She is now at home recovering from injuries. He cannot pay the hospital bill or feed his daughter. His wife died recently and he looks like he has not eaten in some time himself. Too, a lady came for help to go to PaP to bring her injured daughter back home. The daughter cried for her mother to come get her but she had no funds for the bus fare. This kind of need is far too common since the tragedy struck Haiti.

Thank you to all who have contacted me and continue to do so with encouragement. Thank you to all who continue to work diligently on fundraisinhg. Thank you to all who have donated. God will bless you as you bless those here.

Now I must run back to the hospital and see Serlande.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Water tanks must be moved

At 6:00 a.m. this morning the earth moved again. Another after shock - 6.1 is what they are saying. All I know is that it was scary after what happened last week. Is it ever going to end??

I had to take Serlande back to the hospital at 1:30 a.m.this morning. She was very ill. Odner was on duty so he went with Cecile and I. They admitted her again and Cecile stayed with her. I ran back and forth to the compound, with Odner, to get things she needed. I was not happy about Odner not being on the compound with the children, but it was not safe for me to be out driving alone in the middle of the night. What a dilemma!

I could not leave Ti Luc by himself, in the yard in our mosquito tent, so got Sabine up to stay there with him. When I arrived home at 4:30 a.m. I decided to go to the office and work, instead of looking for a place to lie down. At 5:30 a.m. after falling asleep at the computer, I decided to lie on the swing sofa for awhile. I was lying perfectly still, no movement at all. All of a sudden the sofa started swinging back and forth by itself. I jumped up and found the floor moving and house shaking . I could hear Odner outside my house yelling for me to come out. By the time I got out things had calmed. Odner then informed me that he had watched the top level of my house - water tower level - swaying back and forth, just as it had done with the quake a week ago. It really scared him.



The top level with the tanks must be removed. It is too dangerous.

Today, I decided that the most important project at the moment is to get the water tanks off the top of my house. That level has to come down. This morning's swaying has done more damage. I have decided to start construction tomorrow on a place for the tanks just behind the fence at the back of my house. Men will be coming to start digging out for the foundation tomorrow morning. This cannot wait!!! It will have a good foundation and will be constructed with LOTS of rebar. My house is not safe with those tanks up there.

Tomorrow is going to be an extremely busy day here onsite. It is the day to pour the cement roof on the new construction project the group from Canada were working on.. The compound will be filled with people tomorrow. They will be busy as beavers working on their dam.

The bank in St. Marc might open again tomorrow. I know that after being closed since the quake that the line ups will be atrocious,. I plan to leave here at 7:00 and head to St. Marc in hopes of getting in the line before it gets toooooooo long. If it is as bad as I expect it to be, I will not be hanging around for money. Apparently, there is a daily limit, $2,500.00, that a person can withdraw.

I am very overtired. I am falling asleep at the computer again. I am off to bed in the yard with Ti Luc. I will be hoping and praying that I get up to solid earth beneath my feet tomorrow morning.

Aftershocks

Many have probably heard about the new aftershocks earlier this morning. Thankfully we've just had an email from Karen confirming she's still okay, though the tremor was "not small" and she hasn't had a chance to reassess the buildings for any new damage.

Please continue to pray!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Desperate Times

Early yesterday morning we headed to PaP, to the Canadian Embassy, with the fantastic workteam from NS and BC that had been here for two weeks. They certainly had more than they bargained for on this trip. We had the group of 13 Canadians, Luckner, two Haitian police armed, and myself (half Canadian and half Haitian now). We made it to the Embassy, through the mass of people outside, and inside the Embassy compound. I was extremely relieved and very thankful to see them all safely inside. At the same time I was very sad to see them leave. I wanted to hold unto the leader, Gerry, especially. He was a tower of strength for me in many ways during their time here. Knowing I was coming back to face it all alone was difficult.

Thank you to everyone who came with Gerry to work at HATS. You are a fantastic group of people who worked hard, gave my kids a lot of attention, supported each other, and me. You ended up with a lot more than you bargained for when signing up to come for this two week period. The way you all handled the disaster, and the way you jumped in to help because of it, touched me. I am very proud of all of you.

I saw bodies on the road both going and returning yesterday. On the way home I cried when I saw a payloader dumping bodies into a mass grave outside PaP. The radio said that 70,000 bodies had been picked up and put there. They had to be removed so they would not cause disease for those who had survived. Between Thursday, when we went to PaP to help, and yesterday, Monday, I saw more road damage, and more buildings had fallen. The radio stations say damaged businesses and houses are continuing to fall.

Speaking of damaged buildings - we have lots of problems here at HATS. We have a lot more problems than originally thought. Gerry and I assessed the damage done to this mission compound. We saw problems and knew funds were needed quickly. Today, however, I did another thorough assessment and things are much worse than before.

The house that had been used for storage, and was in the process of being prepared to house our boys, is of extreme danger. The damage is beyond repair. The cement is not only cracking but is splitting open now - walls and roof. We can no longer allow the children to play near it, or anyone to sit near it. It has to come down before it falls. I need to build another house for the boys on that land. My house is also showing more problems which means there is more danger here as well. I no longer allow any of my children to come play inside with Ti Luc. I am trying to have him stay outside all day. I must be inside to get any work done but we will continue to sleep outside until this place is really safe. The water tanks must be removed, which means a water tower must be built to support them. I am looking at getting it built behind my house. A water tower and repairs to this place must be done as soon as possible. I decided today to use plywood and put a temporary wall in the meeting/devotion room to use half of that space for storage. I must get everything still stored in that other Children's Home out by tomorrow.

Sections of the cement block wall which encloses the compound must be replaced as well. We will not know how much until later on, but the wall directly behind my kitchen must be replaced quickly as it could fall down.

I have been contacted today by several people asking for help. The needs are overwhelming. I must get things safe here so I can stay and take care of my children and help others throughout this area as well.

Thank you to all who are praying for Haiti. Thank you to all who have contacted me with encouragement, all who have already donated, all who plan to donate, all who are working hard at fundraising. THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH. I have wet eyes when I think of the love and concern in the hearts of the people outside. I know you want to help. The way to help right now is financially. Funds are desperately needed. There is no way to send anything to Haiti at the moment, besides money. Even that will take longer due to banks in PaP being damaged or demolished.

Prices have skyrocketed, supplies have dwindled greatly already. Line ups for gas are enormously long and the price of diesel (that we use for generator and truck) is now four times the cost per gallon as before the quake. I am using the diesel we have on hand very sparingly. There is no ice to purchase in the area now. Thus, my refrigerator and freezer are operating as cupboards only.

The people in this area are facing yet another problem. We could have a water shortage. The Pelig dam was damaged in the quake and the gates to the dam cannot be opened at this time. For HATS, when the water level in the canal is low our water supply is low as well.

I am alone on the front lines at HATS-Haiti right now, but I am not alone. I am holding tightly to the hand of God. Too, I am holding unto the knowledge that I have lots of people who are praying and who are working hard to help the desperate situation in Haiti.

Thank you. Thank you. God bless each and every one of you.



Despair in the eyes of young people who have lost everything.


There are so many people seeking help that the weak and the young get left out.




Heading for the embassy


Mass exodus from Port-au-Prince to the outlying areas


Saying goodbye to the Nova Scotia team

Description of Monday's voyage

It's hard to believe we crammed so much into just one day yesterday - late in the day we were talking about things that happened in the morning and wondering if they had occurred the week before or not!

The day started before dawn with a 4:00 wake-up. We hit the road by 5:30, initially in two pickups. Stopped in Pont du Sundae just as the sun was rising to pick up our armed-and-uniformed police escort. In St Marc we met up with the minibus we had hired and transferred over to it. After dropping the pickups off at the police compound for safekeeping, we hit the road again about 7:00 or so. The main road out of St Marc was blocked by something that was going on, so we took the back road out of town - a different side of the city from what we'd seen before.

As we got close to Port we began to see more and more signs of the earthquake. There had been damage to walls, cracks in buildings, etc., before, but now we began to see collapsed houses and buildings. As we got close enough to begin to see the city, all that was visible was a fog or haze from dust and smoke, despite the bright sunny day.

On the road into Port, we found ourselves right behind a UN patrol convoy of Brazilian troops. Were we glad to be going in with them! Along the road were piles of rubble, obviously where the dump trucks had been depositing debris. People were climbing all over the piles, scavenging. Damaged buildings or walls, some collapsed entirely, became more frequent.

Our "escort" turned in at the airport grounds. US Blackhawk and other helicopters were everywhere. A large military cargo plane flew low over the road on final approach just as we drove by the runway. UN vehicles, Haitian police, and troops were everywhere. Thankfully the aid program was rapidly kicking into high gear. (A solider escorting us to the airport later in the day commented that the Canadian representation was looking likely to be on the scale of our involvement in Afghanistan, but with one to two weeks instead of six months! Our hearts go out to the troops and their families who will be bearing the stress of being stretched so much by two major and difficult missions.)

As we reached the main roads of PAP traffic became quite intense. People lined the grounds outside the airport, and small tent cities could be seen. Crowds lined up outside the entrance to an industrial park, where dump trucks and vehicles were also queued two lanes wide for quite a distance. This was apparently a distribution site for food and/or water. A pillar of dark smoke rose from somewhere in the distance.

Damage wasn't as immediately apparent - the streets and sidewalks were busy, and many buildings appeared fine from a distance, or with relatively minor cracks. There were buildings that had been flattened and that we cringed to think about very much, but even on the main road (DelMas) they weren't as uniformly destroyed as we had feared from rumours and TV coverage. As we moved further in, destroyed buildings became more frequent, but a lot of debris had been removed to allow traffic to proceed already, and thankfully we didn't see as many obvious horrors as we had feared that the kids might be exposed to.

Lineups for food, water, and gasoline were blocks long in places. The need there is immediate and great, and people are afraid of the looming supply shortage with the normal infrastructure destroyed. Very simply, Port-au-Prince was the center of the country in nearly every sense. The destruction of basic utilities and infrastructure, not to mention shipping and logistics, government, health care, education, commerce, etc., leaves those you speak to simply stunned or in tears.

As we climbed DelMas into the hills around PAP, we saw another large crowd on the left side of the street. "Wow, another food lineup. I feel bad for the people there," I thought. Then we found out that was the Canadian Embassy!

Karen and one of our police escort hopped out once we got turned back around to find out how to get in. Unfortunately, we had to work our way through the crowd on foot (with the kids) and present ourselves with passports at the gate. Further, no baggage except a carry-on (not a big deal, but we had "loaner" suitcases and such that we wanted to be able to return). We quickly organized ourselves, grabbed a couple things from our bags, and worked our way through the crowds to the lineup. We found that there wasn't much of a line for Canadian citizens - most were Haitians looking for a way out of their country and situation, but who unfortunately were mostly bound for disappointment. As citizens, we were able to proceed through relatively quickly. People were packed against one another, but were amazingly accommodating to having a bunch of nervous Blancs jostle through them, backpacks bouncing against them. "Pardon", "Merci", and smiles of sympathy and understanding for the kids and their anxious parents were common.

Once we got to the gate, the sight of Canadian Forces troops and embassy staff was such a welcome sight! Members of what we believe were the DART team, Royal Canadian Dragoons, RCHA (?), and/or other units were on guard at the gates. Military Police and Haitian security staff were on duty to process those requesting access. We were so thrilled with the reception we received - calm, professional, good humour, friendly, efficient, are all words that describe it. We were quickly processed through the gates and directed to a spot in the shade by several very friendly and confident staff.

Karen was able to accompany us inside after leading and coordinating our trip through the crowd. We were so thankful for her help, and the chance to see everyone safely inside and say proper good byes. We have all become so close as a team and to Karen over the past weeks.

Did we mention that Karen is something of a force of nature? As soon as she had seen us in safely, she went back to the gates to negotiate with the staff there to see if we could bring at least some of our bags through. She disappeared back out the gates, and in a few minutes the truck was seen backing up to right next to the gate. Next thing we knew, Karen and then Luckner were lugging our suitcases (some weighed awfully close to as much as Karen does herself!) up to and through the gates one at a time! She had gotten the okay for us to bring one suitcase apeice through. That was more than we needed, since much of the team had given away most of what they brought either for the PAP mercy mission or to be left with Karen for local distribution, so we were able to bring all of our bags through.




The staff at the embassy were excellent. We were proud to be Canadian. They had a system nailed down and knew what they were doing. Despite days of exhausting hours and demands, they were friendly and joking. They updated us regularly and told us what to expect, ensuring our needs were taken care of. We arrived there about 10:30 or so and after a short wait, dropped off our suitcases for shipment back to Canada in a few weeks (we couldn't take them with us, but they should get back eventually, which was wonderful), presented our passports for processing, and progressed to a waiting area. We were told they were going to try to get us out on an afternoon flight, which we were amazed by - we had expected to camp on the grounds for a day or two at least!

We had been a bit frustrated at not being able to get through to the Embassy or get much information before arriving, but once we got there and saw how many people they were managing, and what a wonderful job they were doing, we immediately understood. We can't say enough about how good they were to deal with, looking out for everyone's well being. We're grateful for their speed and efficiency - we know that having the kids with our group made our evacuation a higher priority than if we had just been a group of adults, but we are so thankful.

We hadn't been at the waiting area more than an hour or two when we were taking to a staging area for those being prepared to convoy to the airport. Four or five small buses had been hired, along with several SUV's. A squad or two of Canadian troops and a number of Haitian security staff accompanied the convoy and each bus, and these were being filled and taken to the airport as quickly as the logistics allowed.

We were only in the staging area another hour or two when our names were called and we boarded the buses. After a false start or two and some delays while things were coordinated, we were taken the short distance to the aiport where we entered the grounds directly. The tarmac was crowded with planes of all shapes and sizes from many different countries and organizations. US troops were everywhere, as well as UN troops and police. Canadian flags were seen on stacks of aid packages, and soon Canadian Forces troops were also seen. Aid agencies, rescue organizations, etc., from all over North America and Europe were everywhere.

Soon we approached the biggest Canadian Air Force jet most of us had seen (A C-17 Globemaster). We waited while a Forces Rescue helicoper was offloaded from it (!) and while we waited the Flight Surgeon came aboard each bus to give us a quick briefing on what to expect. (We'd go through security, go up the ramp, and be seated on the floor - just like Air Canada he joked.) After a bit we were taken right to the ramp at the rear of the plane, went through a security search, and boarded the plane.

Our seats were quite literally on the floor of the cargo area. Cargo straps were run across, and five people on each side of every row were strapped down together. There was a stretcher rack near the front where three or four elderly people with medical needs had been placed, right next to the two flight nurses and the flight surgeon. Our bags were strapped down on the cargo ramp, along with the last bus load of people. Water was handed out to everyone, with instructions from the doctor to make sure we all drank to prevent dehydration and fainting. The ramp (and those on it) was raised as we prepared for takeoff.



The flight was excellent. We were so thankful for the treatment we received. The crew were efficient, yet compassionate and caring, joking and doing their best to keep things light. They were so humane and friendly! For many of us it was something of an adventure to travel this way, and we were so grateful to live in a country blessed with such resources and capabilities. As soon as possible once we reached altitude, boxed lunches were distributed to everyone, with a small feast in each.

Once we arrived, Red Cross blankets were distributed to those dressed in shorts and +40 in Haiti instead of -3 in Montreal. We were were fast-tracked through Customs and Immigration and greeted with coffee, juice, cookies, and snacks. A few fast phone calls ensured, and then on to waiting buses for the ride to the hotel.

At the hotel, the Red Cross, Quebec Government, and aid organizations had a welcome center set up. More food and drinks, clothing, travel arrangement, hotels, meal vouchers, toiletries, social works, crisis counsellors, free cell phone calls - anything we might need was there waiting and even being pressed upon us to ensure all of our needs were taken care of. Staff were there to direct and assist us all. It was amazing - we were overwhelmed and felt so unworthy of all the attention and treatment, especially compared to what so many of the others with us (and even more so those who were still in the midst of Port-au-Prince) had been through.

We were exhausted by this point - here are a couple of photos showing the condition of the kids by that point (around 11:00 pm or so Eastern).



The hotel, breakfast buffet in the morning, etc., were wonderful yet also overwhelming in many respects. We can't say how thankful we are to all those who helped us yesterday, amazed at how quickly and efficiently we sped through everything, and grateful to our Lord and all those who supported us in prayer. What we experienced was nothing compared to what those of Haiti continue to experience, and we pray that people here will focus on the suffering of those in Port-au-Prince and the rest of Haiti, and do all that they can to help aid and support them in this time!

Last Leg Home

We've had a good night in Montreal and been very well cared for by the Embassy in Port-au-Prince, the military flight crew, and the government and Red Cross when we arrived here. (Embarrasingly well treated.)

They've already scheduled our new flights home. Jim will be flying to Vancouver tonight around 6:20 pm Eastern, we believe via WestJet flight 683 or Air Canada 195. (We don't have exact flight numbers yet, but those look to be the likely candidates.)

The Nova Scotia crew departs Montreal at 14:00 (2:00 pm) Eastern, we think via Air Canada flight 160. (It's extremely strange, and very sad, for us to be going our separate ways now!!)

Fundraiser in Calgary


My daughters in Canada are doing everything that they can to raise funds for Hands Across the Sea and for Haiti in general. I am posting here the information about the fundraiser being organized in Calgary, Alberta. Please post comments here or contact Liette at mjatwilson@hotmail.com if you are interested in attending the fundraiser or would like to help.

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HAITI 911
Haitians And Canadians Fundraise For Haiti


January 18, 2010
Calgary, Alberta


On Sunday, January 31, 2010, Calgarians are invited to a delicious brunch from 11:00 am – 1:30 pm at Sunterra Village Marché, TransCanada Tower, +15 level, 450-1 Street SW to raise money for the country of Haiti which was devastated by the recent earthquake.

Valérie Dupré, a Haitian-Canadian woman active in promoting Haitian culture and causes in Calgary, and Liette Wilson who lived in Haiti for 2 years and has two children adopted in Haiti, together with Sunterra Quality Food Markets, are organizing a fundraising brunch to raise support to help the victims of the tragic earthquake in Haiti. This event will provide an opportunity for Calgarians to show their support for the Haitian people.

The devastation in Haiti requires our immediate response in order to get emergency care to those in need as well as long term support for the survivors of this great tragedy. To that end, funds raised at the brunch will be shared between two agencies working in Haiti, Médecins Sans Frontières and Hands Across the Sea. Médecins Sans Frontières is providing urgent medical care to those injured in the earthquake. Hands Across the Sea, run by Canadian Karen Huxter, (Liette Wilson’s mother) has an orphanage and a school as well as outreach in her local community of Deschapelles, Haïti. Hands Across the Sea is involved in providing relief supplies to those directly affected by the earthquake, support for those who have fled Port-au-Prince seeking medical care at the nearby hospital as well as preparing to receive new orphans who will have lost families in the tragedy and will require long-term care.

Tickets for the brunch, which will include a Haitian dance presentation, poetry readings, music, raffle items, testimonies from Haitians in Calgary and Haitian-Canadians who were adopted into Canadian families as children, as well as guest speakers and guest speakers are $20 for individuals, $5 for children 10 years and under or $50 per family.

We are reaching out to all Calgarians whose hearts have been touched by the earthquake in Haiti. You can make a difference in the lives of the Haitian people who have lost their families, their homes, their schools….but not their hope. Your participation can save lives and enable the Haitian people to begin the process of healing and rebuilding for the future.

Contact:

Liette Wilson
Board Member, Hands Across the Sea, Haïti
Email: mjatwilson@hotmail.com

Monday, Jan 18th - Team going home

The team of 15 that has been in Haiti for 2 weeks has been scheduled to go home on Tuesday, Jan 19th. Because of the craziness at the Haitian airport and the suspension of commerical flights, I took the team into Port-au-Prince early Monday morning to see if we could get them on an evacuation flight back to Canada.

We got news in the afternoon that they would be able to get home on a Canadian military flight (a Hercules). Foreign Affairs called their families Monday evening with the news that everyone was in the air and would be arriving in Montreal at 9:30pm local time. The Red Cross will be providing them accomodation at the Windham Hotel in Montreal. Their flights home to Halifax will be arranged after that.

The Hospital

Update - it appears that the source of the problems was that Serlande's sugar levels had reached a very high point and that she hadn't been monitoring her levels properly. She was in a great deal of pain, and is still in hospital, but it appears that things are beginning to come under control and that she should be okay. Thank you all for the tremendous response and prayers on her behalf!

During the day, various team members spent time assisting with watching over her in the hospital. The following post describes some of Brian Bowers observations which paint a bit of a picture of what that means in Haiti versus in Canada...

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As Serlande, the oldest orphan in the orphanage, was admitted to the hospital at 5:30 this morning, we decided that we would do rotations sitting in the hospital with her and the house mother, Cecile.

These are notes from Brian Bowers:

It was my turn this morning to go and sit with Serlande at the hospital. Karen brought me at about 7:45 am for the first couple of hours. I am trying to process the terrible conditions I was seeing, but I just couldn't fathom it. The only word that describes it is HORRIFIC. It reminded me of the show M*A*S*H when the triage rooms would be overrun with casualities, but this is real life. The 300 foot hallway was lined with injured people as far as you could see. People laying on makeshift beds of blankets with a family member trying to look after them the best they could (doctors and nurses won't- they only give treatment, nothing else). There wasn't a doctor or nurse to be seen at first, but eventually an American doctor came down the hall and I suppose because I was White, I stood out a bit. He stopped and talked for a minute. He said that he had been up almost non-stop for 5 straight days now and that there was at least 40 surgeries that HAD to happen today, but that he also knew that thery wouldn't. There aren't enough doctors to do them. "We treated over 600 people yesterday. It is absolutely heartbreaking. We will do what we can for your loved one when we can get to her." That was all he could say. Be thankful for our healthcare system. Unfortunately, I was there when a lone nurse, pushing a little cart, started at one end of the hallway and started cleaning the wounded people's cuts. There were major head injuries, cuts, broken limbs everywhere and when she started her duties, the screaming started. The odd thing was that before she started cleaning the wounds, I didn't hear a peep. No complaints, nothing. I was told by the doctor that the Haitian people were the toughst people he had ever seen. They never complain about pain- so you know they were in agony when the screaming started. There was a young girl next to me who had no family member with her, who had a badly injured hand and as they worked on her, she cried.
I couldn't help but think of my own little gitl, Kaitlyn, and wonder what this poor girl was thinking. She was all alone, trying to make sense of all that had happened. We are all trying to do the same thing, I guess. Trying to make sense of it all.

Sunday, Jan 17th

Serlande. the eldest orphan, lives with diabetes, and has not been feeling well most of our trip. Yesterday, she was taken to the hospital and the doctor thought she had a stomach parasite and she was given antibiotics. We did lay hands and pray for her, but she has gotten worse during the night so she was taken back to the hospital at 5:30 am. There are no beds left in the hospital, and ill people everywhere so Karen is returning with a mattress and a pillow for her. We are going to go on one hour rotations to the hospital to hold her IV bag as there are no IV stands. Please pray for her this morning.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Paypal Link

The paypal link on the sidebar is broken. While we work to get it fixed please scroll down to the working link a few posts down.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mission to Port-au-Prince, Thurs, Jan 14th

Today was one of the days which I will remember for the rest of my life. I've seen disasters on television, and heard reports of terrible events in our world. Although it impacted me, none of it compares with what I saw today.

This morning we decided to take food, clothing, and water into PAP to help whoever we could. We ended up taking about 150 meals that would feed approximately 300 people, plus 660 small pouches of water and 100 bags of clothing (shoes, tops, shorts, hats of varying sizes).

Karen, Luckner, and I along with six Haitians (three of whom were Haitian police officers) travelled into the city to distribute what we had, and to get a real idea of the extent of the disaster that had taken place in this country.

On the way in, the Haitian radio was on. The announcer said that the estimates at this time could be as high as 600,000 dead, which is a quarter of the city's population. But, with disease this could well jump to 1,000,000 people. I know this is a huge figure, and I can't even believe it when I say it, but I saw some of the reason behind these reports today.

Going into the city, we were about half way there when we started to see buildings that had collapsed. Just before we reached PAP we started coming across places where the road had heaved and cracked, so we had to drive very carefully across those sections. Our intention was to go to Del Mass, one of the main streets in PAP, where a lot of the commerce and retail takes place. It's also a section where the mother of one of the people with us lived - we wanted to see if she was safe. (Thankfully she was.)

Our first stop was at a school that had 1050 students and teachers. It had collapsed, with almost all inside. The death toll was almost 100% there. We talked to one young man who escaped, but his brother (a teacher there) did not. They were still hauling bodies out when we arrived, and I believe they will be for many days.






The stench in the city is beyond belief. There is the smell of death everywhere. We knew we would see a lot of death, but it was more than we ever could have planned for. Bodies stacked on the side of the road, some covered with sheets, and some not.



We next travelled to the hospital, where the nurses` residence had collapsed. There too machinery and men were at work trying to save people still trapped. At another site, there were cries from a young woman who asked for people to save her, but we`re not sure what happened.



Down in the center of the city, we went to the President`s Palace, the Justice Building, and other government buildings. All were either partially or totally destroyed. I don`t see how there can be any real government in this country for many years to come. They just do not have the facilities or the people at this time to do it.



Our distributions were planned to be very methodical, where we would give out single amounts of food, water, and clothing to individuals as we came across them. But each of the five times we stopped to distribute, small riots occurred, with people running from all directions, screaming, yelling, and grabbing. We had to drive off as fast as we could and look for another site to try again. But it was the same thing every time. People are so desperate. Where there is water, there were huge lineups. But really there is no water, no food, and no shelter in PAP right now. People are living in fields, out on lawns, wherever they can find a spot where there are no buildings near them which might still collapse.








We saw military planes flying in and out bringing supplies, so I know help has started to arrive. But I can`t see how a few planes can bring enough food, water, and shelter for so many people.




I also saw a lot of looting going on, where people were digging into collapsed stores and taking whatever they could find there and running away with it. The UN forces and the police are everywhere doing their best to keep the city under control, but it`s a massive job with so many displaced people.

As far as the buildings of Port-au-Prince are concerned, the center of that city is completely devastated and destroyed. It will take many years to rebuild.





I know this is a very grim report. But the reality is, that this nation is an absolute disaster at this time, and needs our thoughts and our prayers. It is also going to need a lot of funds to rebuild.

My hope and prayer is that the world will listen to its heart and help these people.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Donations

We've finally been able to set ourselves up to accept online donations via PayPal. Anyone interested in donating to support HATS-Haiti and our work (especially damage repair and local relief ministries in the current situation) can now donate online via the following link:
HATS-Haiti PayPal Donations

Thursday, January 14, 2010

January 13, 2010

**Photos will follow as soon as we can get them up**

Hello from the HATS-Haiti Mission in Deschapelles, Haiti.

Thank you to all who have e-mailed and to all who have been trying to get through by telephone due to the horrific devastation you are hearing and seeing about Haiti. You have been asking how we are, what we experienced, and what repairs we might be needing to do here.

Since the arrival of the workteam a blog has been done daily. It is a different address than the HATS regular blogspot. It is now reporting what we know, and have seen and heard about the quake. Check it out at: http://www.haititeam2010.blogspot.com

We will be trying in the next day or so to get the same information posted on both blogs so that it will be easier for you to follow how we are.

On January 5th a 14 person workteam arrived here from Canada (13 from NS and 1 from BC) to work on construction of housing for support missionaries. I have been in need of help for a long time. The construction work has been progressing beautifully with three other smaller projects also happening at the same time.

Yesterday, Tuesday, Jan. 12th, we drove one of the team members to PaP to return home to NS as he was not feeling well. We took him downtown PaP and showed him the Palace before dropping him at the airport. I am thanking God that our being in that area was in the morning and not late afternoon. I saw that our friend checked in at the airport with Air Canada to return home and we returned to the mission site.

Late afternoon most of the group were relaxing in the living room after a hot and tiring day of work. The Haitian workers were doing a little finishing work before they quit. I had gone to shower when my bathroom started to shake and sway. Lots of things were falling on the cement floor including a fan. Glass was breaking as photos were falling off my bedroom walls. I thought that due to the weight of the four 1000 gallon water tanks on top of the building which is also my house, that it was no longer structurally sound and my house was falling down. As I was frantically trying to dress I ran into the living room yelling for everyone to get outside, only to find my house already empty. They had quickly vacated and were standing in the yard. The Haitian workers were lying or sitting on the ground. They had quickly run down the stairs to the yard from the second level where they had been still working. I joined the group from Canada and we watched the top level of this building swaying back and forth like big waves upon the sea. Too, the high cement block fence with razor wire on top, which makes the enclosure for our compound, was swaying about 2 feet back and forth. We are amazed and extremely thankful that everything is still standing.



The damage, and the loss of life, in this country is horrific. I cannot write about it without crying. I will instead try to answer some of your questions about how we are faring.

The group, myself and my 4-yr-old son, Alex (Ti Luc) stayed outside in the yard last night. None of us felt we could take a chance on sleeping inside. Most of the team had been sleeping in mosquito tents on the unfinished second level. Tim, Heidi and children had been sleeping upstairs also, but inside. The mosquito tents were moved down to the yard, some doubling up was done, and we spent the night that way. Very little sleeping was done.
tents on lawn

Some students turned up for school this morning and most of them sat in the middle of the school yard until a meal could be prepared for them. Then they were sent back home. They were told to return on Monday to see if we were ready for school to reopen. Today we did a thorough check of the property - everything on the school compound and also on this compound. Lots of damage repairs necessary. The front wall of the secondary school needs to come down and be redone. Gerry has the taking down already started and necessary supplies are being ordered.

The Children's Home that had been used for storage was emptied out by the group yesterday to prepare it for our orphan boys. This house has a lot of cracks in walls and ceilings. It is going to need some major work now before it will be ready for habitation. The Children's Home that is in use seems to have done okay. This building, which has my house and two offices on the ground floor, needs work before I will be comfortable having anyone sleep in it again. We have seen a lot of cracks. There are some big ones on the support pillars on level three that hold up those four water tanks. The pillars need repair work and cement block walls need to be done on level two and perhaps also on level three. Having the walls done will give extra support for the weight that is above us.

Gerry Rhyno from Yarmouth, NS, leader of the workteam, and also the Chairman of the Canadian HATS Board of Directors gave me an estimate of $10,000 to do the necessary repairs here. It may sound like a lot of money, but money is nothing compared to the loss of life and devastation around us. I believe that God will provide the funds for the repairs to be done so the mission can continue to be a light in this area of Haiti.

Throughout this day and as I am writing this I continue to receive word of many deaths of people from our area. Most of the families throughout the Artibonite Valley have loved ones living in Port au Prince, many of them students. A lot have received word that family members died in the quake or cannot be found. Many seriously injured have been brought back to this area and are presently in the hospital here in Deschapelles. Too, many who died in the quake were brought back to families around us today. People in our area have been seen today walking around with dead loved ones in their arms crying uncontrolably as they don't know what to do now or where to turn. The level of grief and pain of the people around us is unimaginable. I know that a lot of the poor people in this area who have to bury loved ones, pay hospital bills, or fix a home that has been damaged will come to the compound and ask to see me. Funds to repair the damage to the HATS property is necessary but I know that I am also going to need funds to use in the HATS Mercy Ministry, as I call it. Someone has already come to ask for financial help at the request of a young man from this area who attends school in PaP. He was brought home to the hospital here today with a 'smashed' leg as they put it and he has no money to pay for x-rays or meds, or for food. I have been receiving donations for schooling for this young man for a few years. A lot of requests will be made of me for help in the near future.

Aftershocks are continuing. When things start to tremble we all quickly evacuate the buildings. The Haitian radio stations are announcing that we should be prepared for the possibility of another quake to hit on Friday. Please pray this does not happen.

People are walking around. People are trying to keep going. But I can honestly say that both inside our compound and outside in the community we are all feeling dead inside.

Some of you have offered to send funds and some have asked about sending items. Financial help is what is needed at this time. Donations should be sent to the address in Yarmouth given at the bottom of this letter. Please remember to make cheques payable to Hands Across The Sea Association.

Thank you again for all the help last year and now for the help for the people of Haiti due to this disaster.

Thank you, once again, for EVERYTHING from all of us.