Notes from Haiti's Children – UPDATE

From missionary Ed, via reader DeLynn, some remarks from the children around him, in Petit Goave, which is away from Port au Prince, and has also been reduced to rubble:

Mon 8:34 AM The weather is quite pleasant though the atmosphere remains very tense and on edge. We’re going to start bringing more families in out at the school. Still no sign here in Petit Goave, of all the aid coming in. The tremors continue. LOTS of good outdoor church services yesterday. The Happy House is still upright with only a little damage. I’m still not hungry.

(These next comments are from some of the children)

Ismael, one of our Happy House guys, says, he is well thank the Lord and that he is counting on your prayers and he wants the tremors to stop. Amen.

Daphne says she is happy to hear that so many people care and thank you for the prayers. He main prayer request is for the tremors to stop and for there to be peace.

Lora says thank you for praying for us, and for the help being sent to us. Her main prayer request is for everyone to find a place to live and that she would be able to communicate with her mother and sisters.

Is it overly-sentimental of me to be moved to tears that these children, who have seen their world torn apart in mere seconds, can so simply and beautifully express thanks, even when they have no evidence of help before them, and can share their hopes for those besides themselves?

A hard deadline kept me offline all weekend, but here are a few more messages from Ed which came in as I worked:

Sunday 2: 26 PM Just a quick note about how I’m communicating. A few people have asked how I am able to get online in the midst of all this. We have no electricity. For years we have not been able to rely on electricity here so we have a battery bank of car batteries wired together. When we don’t have electricity, we run small things off of the batteries. We don’t have cable here and my only access to the Internet is via a satellite dish on our roof which gets it’s power from the car batteries. My laptop obviously has it’s own battery. We have a generator so as long as we have gas we can continue to charge things. Of course if the house collapses, and it may, that will …be the end of my transmissions. With the continual tremors, we are not done yet.

We are now organizing a base camp at the Lakul/Royale school. Haiti will not be having school for the rest of this year, so we are going to use the building to house many of the families that lost their homes. The school is still standing. Also that will make it easier to give food and there is some security in larger …numbers of people right now.

We are in a survival mode as we wait, what seems to be forever, for help to get here. Some helicopters have passed over and circled but nothing on the ground yet. We have two bulldozers for this whole town still trying to dig bodies out of the rubble.
I shared with the church this morning that our brothers and sisters around the world were praying for us. I tried to make them know that we are not forgotten and that it’s still in God’s hands. They were encouraged to know so many are watching.

It feels good when a helicopter passes over, even when they don’t stop. Makes us feel like somebody out there knows that we’re here.

As to Haiti’s immediate needs, we are not even close to rebuilding time. There is much work that only big organizations with big equipment can do. Bulldozers and cranes are needed all over. Dead bodies still clog the roads of Port au Prince. In some places they are being pile intentionally as road blocks to force the government to come and take them away.

One reads all that and feels so helpless, knowing that all one can offer is monetary support and prayers. The instinct is to jump on a plane and go help out, but unless one has something useful to offer besides good intentions, one would only end up in the way of those who are trying to work. There are many lessons to be learned from Haiti, and I believe we’ll be processing them for a long time, but perhaps one lesson is that sometimes one must be willing to be physically useless, in order to cultivate and strengthen the prayerlife that can make us warriors for each other’s good.

Because I had myself on a news blackout, I have much to catch-up on with this story. A few days ago I linked to this piece by Nicholas Kristof (whose headline has changed yet again as he fact-checks his numbers, which he notes), wherein he suggests that America cannot claim bragging rights on its annual aid to Haiti. People of good will should be able to debate that, and so today I have a piece featured On the Square that factors in other considerations:

Our aid to Haiti may seem insufficient to some, foolhardy to others, and people of good will can argue in either case. But let us consider the other hand, which holds this invaluable (and incomparable) intangible: we are in the position, right now, today, to do something real and concrete for the stricken people of Haiti, because we have done what other nations will not do: we’ve sufficiently equipped our military to be able to give these people real, on-the-ground aid and comfort, and security, at the risk to our own people.

Money is nice, but being able to get in-country and bind up wounds and rescue the stranded, and feed the hungry, and erect emergency shelter beats a feel-good bottom line in a blotter, any day. That America can both contribute a quarter of a billion dollars annually to Haiti and bring full-out assistance to her in a dreadful hour, suggests to me that balance matters.

You can read it all, here. I would probably correct “no other nation” to read “most other nations,” on rethinking it.

Finally, I know through emails and comments that some of you kept me in your prayers as I completed my project. I thank you most humbly for that. Prayer has power, as Ed and his neighbors -even the children- can attest.

Soldiers and Marines on a rescue mission – if you can donate, this sounds like a great effort (not yet tax-deductible)

UPDATE 2: Ed sounds like he is beginning to lose his upbeat batter: 6:02 PM We’re still here. The tremors are still here. The “help on the way” is still not here.

Awful Video

Little Miss Attila is moderating an interesting discussion at her place, (and Fausta has more on the Haitian exodus.

UPDATE 3: “a fresh piece of awfulness, every few yards”

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  • HKatz

    It’s not overly sentimental to cry when reading these children’s words.

    And something that always gives me pause – how a disaster like this will bring out the best in some people and the worst in other people.

    Thank you for posting so many updates and passing along what information you can about the situation there.

  • Clare Krishan

    Catholic historical fiction author Elena Maria Vidal of Tea-at-Trianon blog links to tech-geeky volunteers organizing across the US to share IT assistance (updated satellite mapping info and the like) in a central place


    (her hubby is one of the techy geeks!)


    Anyone in NY or DC or LA with that ‘helpless’ sensation, can collaborate in person ( ‘tho probably any skilled IT professional would be able to channel their talents in the right direction online I’m assuming).

    Its alarming that hospitals in northern region of Haiti are out of the loop – the Lede blog thread at the NYT featured a post of a forwarded email from a US colleague of a Haitian doctor asking why they have not received any helicoptor evacuations, they are ready and waiting…. all week no patients…while victims lie in sports fields 75 miles away!

    …central planning may not be the way to go on this one…

  • Clare Krishan

    re: pitfalls of central planning:
    Mr Russell’s twitter feed tells us “On conf. call: Per @NoelDickover, U.S. State Dept will be using solutions developed this weekend at our #cchaiti @CrisisCamp!”
    Free enterprise wins the day!

  • ml

    After I watch the video, it is awful. Sad. I feel so sorry for them lost their loved one. Hope the Haitian kids have some plenty foods and water when volunteer workers bring it to them as quickly they can. I have been keeping up the news update from Fox News Network.

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  • Clare Krishan

    That Haitian hospital is SO desperate to alert the relief effort to their existence – they were featured on Irish radio too:
    “Was listening to RTE Radio 1 this morning (Pat Kenny Show) and he interviewed a staff member in a fully equipped orthopaedic hospital 75 miles outside Port au Prince. They have teams of surgeons standing by to treat the injured and despite repeated pleas to (I think) the US military to transport patients to them by helicopter (which would take 30 mins) so far they have received only 14 patients.”
    reports a comment at UK TV journalist John Snow’s blog here

    Pray for logic to help the UN/US leadership recognize the blessings of subsidiarity – start recruiting the victim-survivors to act as ‘line monitors’ (like the crossing guards found anywhere schoolkids are coralled for their own safety) and open up widely distributed centers of aid – Food for the Poor delivered 80 palettes of materials via their usual Cruise ship partner that docks in Labadee – get creative folks !

    One small note in all the visual footage – many old timber framed homes are still standing, IMHO this HAS to be part of the recovery solution: land reform to develop reforestation as a commercial resource (not a zero-cost-fuel depot for subsistence farmers, after $100 million UN funds are lost to charcoal burning of the saplings planted!!). Home grown solutions would go a long way to ridding the people of reliance on international aid (concrete and mortar are all foreign imports, funded by public indebtedness) that leads to the corruption of moral hazard.

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  • DeLynn

    The video is awful indeed. Unimaginable. I think it is important for us to see, though.

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  • http://TheAnchoress Tom

    No, you are not being sentimental, just expressing your emotions that God has given you in times like these.
    It is very hard to sit and allow things to happen around us over which we have little or no control. Jesus must have certainly had these same feelings in the hours that lead to His being hung on the cross.

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