Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Report from Port au Prince, Haiti

I wanted to pass on this email I just received. Before I left, I helped to pack up food to be taken to Port au Prince. Jean Monique Bruno is the person who transported the food to the capital city, and this is a report of his experience. Just thought you might like a follow-up of what he saw while he was there.



Dear friends,

I made the trip to Port-au-Prince and back to Terrier Rouge. Thank you to all of you for your prayers and generosity. Thank you for accompanying the people of Haiti in their moment of trial. We urgently need your continued help.

I left Terrier Rouge on Sunday 17th at 5.00 am with a truck loaded with food for 250 families affected by the earthquake and 10 young volunteers. After eight hours on the road we arrived at the Capital of Haiti. Immediately we started our relief work by visiting the most affected areas. I could not believe what I saw. The City where I grew up does not exist any longer. The Holy Trinity Cathedral, the Church attended by my family, the temple which witnessed my ordinations was completely destroyed. My primary and high school where I had my education was leveled. Most of the government buildings including the National Palace either were severely damaged or do not exist any longer. One cannot describe the scene. One has to be there. TV coverage shows only part of the devastated Port-au-Prince.

I went to one of the Episcopal high schools, named College St Pierre to see the Bishop and saw the damages. This school which was the pride of the Diocese for their academic performance fell down and killed lot of students. In the court yard the sisters of St Margaret, the Bishop and two other priests along with more than a thousand people took refuge there. They live under camping tents. The Bishop was not there but I visited with the two priests. One of them was the Dean of the Seminary, The very Rev. Oge Beauvois who explained to me that they do not have the means to feed the people there. I promised him that I will send food for them this coming Friday.

Everywhere in Port-au-Prince people live in the streets or they use any park or space they can find. They sleep under the stars. Their temporary shelters are made of sheets some of them have recovered from the ruins. Praise the Lord is not raining. Tears came down as I was walking between the bodies of the dead who were still laying on the pedestrian walk way waiting to be picking up by the truck to be buried in a common grave.

As I was walking I visited a community of 300 families gathered together on a small property without water, food and so on.. They were practically dying. I stopped and was watching them. One guy who happens to be their leader approached me and talked to me. He asked me for help for those people. I agreed to provide food to them. Immediately he gathered the community and we discussed how we will proceed. They formed a committee for the distribution. The next day we drove the truck there and they received the food which was going to be distributed. I gave them food for two hundred people but they told me that everybody will find something. They started reducing the packages we had prepared in Terrier Rouge so instead of 200 families, 300 may have something to eat. They show a real concern for everyone.

The remaining 50 packages were distributed in the area where my family lives to the neighbors. With the volunteers we participated in the recovery of the bodies of my cousin and her granddaughter who were under the rumblings. After we found them, we buried them not too far from their destroyed home.

The needs are countless. I felt since the moment of the tragedy that I had to intervene in a way or other to bring my support to fellow citizen. Families are living the Capital and are moving the country. I am helping also in this area. On our way back the truck was loaded with people from Terrier Rouge we brought to their families.

What we are doing is very small compared to the massive aid that the international community is pouring on Haiti. But it is very significant in the sense that in distributing our help we do not need an army to protect us. We use the channel of community leaders. We do it with discretion. Nobody has noticed that we were transporting food for the victims. There was no fight, no riot and everyone we reach had received something. Neither I nor the volunteer ever felt threatened, on the contrary we did our work with joy trusting in the Lord’s power for protection.

When I had to leave for Port-au-Prince, there was no gasoline in the whole country. I crossed the border and talked to the DR authorities in Dajabon and they allowed me to buy the quantity of diesel fuel I needed for the whole trip. The food also is bought there. So I do not have any problem to get the food to Port-au-Prince.

An idea of what I took to Port-au-Prince: rice, beans, corn, charcoal, oil, spaghetti, matches, cassava, bread, biscuits, candles, dry fish and water.

I am going back to Santo Domingo this Saturday after sending the truck again and will come back next week will make another trip to Port-au-Prince.

I urge you to be part of this relief work. You can give to any organization of your choice but believe me any penny you give our Organization “Esperance & Vie” through Bethlehem Ministry will go right away to the suffering people.

For the time being school is closed in the whole country. As I was writing this report, we have received an aftershock in Terrier Rouge and this happen from time to time. Last night, the people in Cap-Haitien experienced the same phenomenon. People are still living in a very panic situation. They do not want to take any chance to stay in their homes.

We continue to count on you prayers and generosity. Please forgive me for the length of this report.

Your servant


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