Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | December 17, 2010

News from Haiti

Early this year the earthquake in Haiti struck. Many readers of this blog read about the relief work undertaken by a small group of old friends in Haiti who were running a sustainability project out in the country. And many readers donated too. Here is Mousson’s report on where your money went and a video of some of the people they helped singing Map diw mèsi, ‘I am thanking you.’ These are the lyrics:

There are things you could never imagine,
When they happen, you do not believe it is real
Tuesday January 12th, nature struck Haiti,
We thought all was destroyed. We were totally demoralized,
Our hearts were torn apart at the sight of our brothers falling down

We felt so ashamed, among all peoples we were the scorned ones.
But we soon realized the whole world was thinking about us,
Sending what they owned to save the Haitian people.

Even in the midst of great danger
So many came here to our aid!
Only one thing they were proving:
God had put Love in their hearts!

We are saying Thank you, Thank you!
We are saying Thank you, Thank you!
We are saying Thank you, Thank you!
We are saying Thank you, Thank you!

Mousson’s report:

Dear Friends,
It is difficult to know how to begin writing this fifth journal, to explain the long silence. The only way is to be as truthful as possible: in many ways I feel overwhelmed by a sense of inadequacy, for not having been able to reach a ‘happy ending!’ As time passes and the world’s attention turns elsewhere, we have to face the fact that donations for Haiti have inevitably diminished and we cannot achieve as much as we would all wish. Yet so much has been achieved with your help!

Your donations have made all of this possible: to evacuate over 700 people from Port-au-Prince to Camp-Perrin immediately after the earthquake, to feed an average of over 1,200 people for 8 months – primarily  in Port-au-Prince and some displaced families in Camp-Perrin, to keep 55 displaced kids in school from February to July and to sponsor 100 more children for the new school year, to cover the cost of healthcare for over 120 patients, provide tents and cots to improve the conditions for about 20 families in Port-au-Prince, and to cover the cost of the annual rental of houses for six displaced families in Camp-Perrin.

Scholastic successes despite the general chaos: In the midst of the all too slow efforts to rebuild after the earthquake, I am able to report some very uplifting news: 80% of the 55 displaced school kids we evacuated with your help from Port-au-Prince, who were reinserted in schools in Camp-Perrin have successfully graduated to the next scholastic level. 9 out of the 11 successfully passed the official exams. These are huge personal victories: enabling this small group of children to continue their education and quickly regain a sense of normality – giving them a sense of pride and hope that they can defy all odds – reassuring their parents that all was not lost! Also, happily, with your help we were able to help two college students resume their studies and graduate from college, one as a nurse, the other as an agricultural technician – giving them an enormous sense of achievement, that a year was not lost, and that they can now seek work as qualified personnel.

A credit program was born: Sadly, as donations slowly diminished, it became an impossible task to maintain the humanitarian food aid distributions on a continuous basis, and it ended in August. Despite the general sense of helplessness – we were determined to achieve results for the survivors – to help them pick up the pieces of their lives rather than become overwhelmed by the general atmosphere of fear and inertia. As a result a small credit program was launched in May 2010.

The credit program has enabled many women, generally heads of families, to start up small businesses as vendors working from their homes, in the market places or in the streets of Port-au-Prince. A simple system was developed to identify the most suitable products for them and help estimate appropriate inventories so as to make their ventures worthwhile. As the program evolved we started to offer credit for education as well as commercial activities, so as to help cover the expense of school fees – as another important step towards giving the evacuees autonomy. Our efforts may appear insignificant, but they have given many families a sense of dignity, a sense of moving forward – which are essential to maintaining hope.

We are currently focusing on a small group including 12 women involved in small businesses and 100 children in the educational credit program: 30 at the university level, 70 in schools. The credit varies from $125 to $400, school fees averaging $250 per students, including books and uniforms.

I believe that in the future the credit activities will evolve and become more program-specific, with donors sponsoring or mentoring education for specific individuals, at different levels in schools and universities as well as sponsoring struggling women who are heads of families. This can be done as a personal and meaningful experience with donors able to follow the results of the individuals they support, or it can be done anonymously.

Your total contribution to date: $244,678!
In addition to the donations we have received, we want to also mention the donations received from an international organization called, Food for the Poor, who made contributions by providing food, clothing, medical supplies, water, agricultural tools and seeds in May and August 2010. We are very grateful for receiving these additional goods that allowed us to extend help and medical facilities to more families.

More information on their website http://www.oreworld.org/ and there’s a donate button there. Let’s all give them a Christmas present, however small, because it will really make a difference!


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