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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Update on Port au Prince - more mixed news

April 20, 2010

by Joan DeFrances

Though the hard work of our school director in Port au Prince, Abner Romelus, we have been able to secure several grants of 300 large (80lb) sacks of rice and gallons of cooking oil on 5 separate occasions. Each sack has been reported to be enough to feed a family for a month. We have used your donations each time to rent a large truck with armed guard to discretely pick up the food and safely deliver it to families in great need. Thank you for your generosity. You can see how your money goes right towards saving lives!

Unfortunately, as expected, the situation in Port au Prince is getting worse as the rainy season begins.

Please see the following excerpt from an email by Sherman Malone to the Haiti Marycare team.

"Abner called today with a report on the fear and confusion in Port au Prince as the government begins to move homeless people out of the makeshift camps which are already flooding. The rain falling now makes it clear that the rainy season has already arrived and will get worse. One of the sad things Abner said is that there seems to be almost no gas in PAP. It's expensive and hard to find.

Some people who have family in the north/northeast do not have money for a ticket or cannot get a place on a bus going to Cap Haitien. Many other families are being evicted from the camps and told that their only option is to go to Cap Haitien and they are put on a bus to go there. They are frightened because they know no one in the north/northeast, have no idea how they will survive in a strange locality, and have heard of no government or international efforts to receive big refugee populations in the north/northeast.

Our work, over our history and especially now in the aftermath of the earthquake, has been extraordinarily quickly responsive, effective and efficient. I believe that has been possible because all along, with Father Dorcin, we have been building the collaborations and grassroots community connections that are necessary to our mission."

The Food Has Arrived, but with Mishap

by Joan DeFrances

We all hope for good news resulting from our mission and hard work in Haiti, but sometimes there are mixed results. I have received permission to post the following emails detailing the progress of the food donated by Feed My Starving Children.

excerpts from email by Sherman Malone:

Dear Team,

Let us rejoice!!

Father Dorcin has got the food for malnourished children safely from port to depots. Haiti Marycare has demonstrated that we can ship to Haiti in impossible conditions.

Father Dorcin writes: "Ouffffff, nou soulaje!!!!!! " Father Dorcin says, ", We can breathe now, we are comforted, we are at ease!"

I'm saying that we should be very proud of our hard work, our teamwork and our great success in getting food to the children who urgently need it.

Father Dorcin has got the food shipment through customs and out of the port and on its way to malnourished children in Jakzi and in Roche Plate/Pilette. Father Dorcin sent this letter to us and also called me to add some more information to his report. It took constant vigilance and several trips to the port, but Father Dorcin managed all the fees, customs, formalities successfully. We can now be confident that the system he has put in place for receiving shipments from Sante Mannas will work for the shipment of medical supplies and medicines that is coming.

The problem: Transportation from the Port to Village Destinations
Transportation from port to villages required 2 trucks.

Father Dorcin borrrowed the first truck from Caritas to ship food to Jacquesyl. The drivers arrived on time and loaded the food with no problem, but as they passed through Cap Haitien, the truck was attacked by robbers who broke the glass window at the back of the truck and began to steal the food and threatened the drivers who fled for their lives. MINUSTA (the UN Peace Keepers) arrived rapidly, saved the drivers and regained possession of the truck and the food. A very, very small amount of food (2 boxes) was lost; the rest of the food was saved. MINUSTA accompanied the truck until it was safely outside the city. The drivers did not want to go on the rough road directly to Jacquesyl after their bad experience and because they had used up so much time and so they took the truck and the food to Fort Liberty where the food is safely stored now, awaiting transport to Jacquesyl very soon, and the truck will be repaired.

The second truck was late arriving. That was good.
Having had this bad experience with the first truck, Father Dorcin was able to arrange in advance with MINUSTA to accompany the second truck (provided to Father Dorcin by the Ministry of Public Health) from the minute the food was loaded as the truck left the port, passed through Cap Haitien and arrived safely outside Cap Haitien. The truck went on to Roche Plate to deliver the food safely with no problems.

The underlying problem is the stress and confusion in Cap Haitien where so many refugees have arrived with nothing and there is now no electricity in the city and there is a great shortage of gas and other necessities too and so some people are stealing what they can.

Unfortunately, there was confusion on the US side about the severity of the losses. Please see the following update from Father Dorcin.

Hi Sherman,
You have done a great job. About the damage on the truck container, I would like to clarify for you and the team that the robbers had broken the main front glasses, the laterals, and the back door to get access into the container. It is not only two boxes, but many ....

God bless,
Fr. Dorcin