Saturday, June 26, 2010

photos - rubble removal - part 1

The Haitian people are very resourceful. In order to clean up rubble on narrow streets manual labor is used.

Rubble is moved rock by rock by groups of people up the street to the corner. This group of workers was in the Canape Vert region.

This group of workers have a difficult task. They have to hand the rubble by hand across the street and then toss it into the dump truck keeping an eye on passing vehicles.

When vehicles go by they pause their rubble hand-over process.

Once the vehicle passes by the human rubble handover chain goes to work.

photos - sous zabette - part 2

We went with some of the people of Coram Deo to Sous Zabette the other weekend. It was a busy place. Here are some of the people that we met there.

It didn't take long for everyone to jump into the "sous" (spring) to cool off.

Benson still is learning how to swim. Angela is giving him a helping hand.

It was a cool way to spend a hot afternoon here in Haiti.

We made a visit out to the countryside of Croix-des-Bouquets to the Double Harvest mission.

photos - double harvest - part 3

Double Harvest is a large mission that does a lot of different things. One thing they do is run a nursery/greenhouse of tropical plants and trees.

It was a quiet, peaceful place to visit.

Our purpose to going to Double Harvest was to purchase chicken eggs. They have a lot of chickens on the farm as well.

Another part of the project is a fish farm.

Tilapia fish are grown and sold. There are a lot of fish in the tanks. Tilapia don't need a lot of room to grow.

photos - mango season - part 4

These women are shucking corn.

Mangos are a big export for Haiti to the United States. We went to the exporter to get the grade 2 mangos that are sold to people and vendors. The tree in this picture is a mango tree.

Mangos come in from around the country side into Port-au-Prince.

These workers are selecting the mangos for sale.

We buy about 10 dozen at a time. Mangos are nutritious and delicious and it doesn't take long to go through them with all the people who live here at Coram Deo (right now 22!)

photos - repairs - part 5

While we were waiting for the mangos Manu and Amos joined some other workers watching a world cup soccer match on a television set at the back of the parking lot.

The side wall is finished and the parging looks good. The guys did a great job on the wall!

Loutese installed a new electrical line from the road to the house. The other one was not bringing in enough current. Now our water filter works again!

This week the guys tackled the "make a storage depot out of the old outhouse" project. They are creating an opening for the door at the front plus fixing the walls.

We used the old door from the dormitory that was taken down and the workers matched it up with the opening that was created.

photos - various - part 6

The cement boss is working on putting holes in to insert the door holder pegs.

The door and roof is now in place on the new storage depot for the dormitory!

Manu is happy with his new bike. He is making money by renting it to other children in the neighborhood for 5 gourdes a ride!

Fonise Cadeau is our newest resident here at Coram Deo. She came back into Port-au-Prince after going out to the countryside after the earthquake. Her father's leg was severed by a falling wall the day of the earthquake. While driving around the city looking for an open hospital we realized how bad the earthquake was. Her father is still in Martinique recuperating.

Yanckky Appollon is a 9-month-old boy who was born with a congenital cornea defect on his right eye. His left eye is cloudy too. Pray we can find out if it is possible to save/restore his sight.


(Los Angeles Times) - By E. Thomas Johnson

Real reconstruction has yet to begin, while the people suffer in ramshackle housing in overcrowded camps. Instead of facilitating imports of equipment, leaders have lapsed into a pattern of corruption and delay.

Five months after Haiti's devastating earthquake, the emergency response has finally secured a toehold: No one is lacking essential life-preserving services. But real recovery and reconstruction efforts have yet to begin, and there is a significant risk of further disaster.

In more than 10 years of emergency relief work, I've never seen camps like those in Port-au-Prince. International standards defining what people are entitled to after a disaster are in no way being met.

The Haitian camps are congested beyond imagination, with ramshackle tents standing edge to edge in every square foot of available space.

With the rainy season now beginning, the crowded conditions and overtaxed public toilets have raised very real concerns about a cholera epidemic. The tents themselves are a hodgepodge.

Families' first attempts at fashioning shelters have been augmented with plastic sheeting supplied by international agencies. But the makeshift housing certainly won't withstand a hurricane. If one were to hit Port-au-Prince, the death toll can only be guessed at. There would be nowhere for displaced families to take refuge in a city where most of the hotels, public buildings, schools and churches still lie in massive heaps of rubble.

It's to be expected that cleaning up the rubble will take time. But what is shocking is that it hasn't really started. In four days of driving through this sprawling, heavily populated city recently, I saw only one backhoe in operation. It was repairing a sewer line. The other handful of modest cleanup efforts I saw were being done by teams of a dozen people with shovels and wheelbarrows, tools pitifully inadequate to the task.

Massive, aggressive intervention is required. It will take a convoy of construction equipment, such as that possessed by the U.S. military camped on the edge of the city, to remove the rubble and clear streets that are clogged with piles of concrete and iron. But the cleanup is just not happening.

Why has so little been accomplished? Why hasn't heavy equipment been brought in? Why hasn't the government depopulated at least some of the worst camps, moving residents to safer locations on the outskirts of the city where proper settlements can be planned, and proper shelters constructed?

After an initial honeymoon period with the international aid community,the Haitian government has imposed stringent controls. With more than 600 organizations present, some central planning is essential. But the government in Port-au-Prince has lapsed into the classic pattern of corruption, inefficiency and delay that holds the country hostage.

At a recent United Nations-led meeting, one international organization reported that it had 45 vehicles waiting at Haiti's border with the Dominican Republic. They had been there several weeks because Haitian officials had denied them entry. This is not an isolated case. Dozens of organizations involved in the aid effort have had trouble importing goods and materials, and the restrictions and requirements on new projects to help the affected families continue to grow.

Though it's important that the Haitian government is in the driver's seat of the recovery effort, it has not yet stepped up to the job. The government needs to aggressively facilitate imports of needed goods and equipment and allow agencies to resettle both camp residents who are most at risk and those whose homes were not damaged. The government says it prefers a solution in which all camp residents are resettled at once.

Meanwhile, as ordinary Haitians suffer, the elite families of Port-au-Prince continue to live in luxury in elegant homes high above the dusty sprawl. These families have controlled the wealth of Haiti for generations, and many are now profiting from their county's latest tragedy. The aid agencies all need rental cars and trucks, housing, offices, warehouses and local supplies, and Haiti's elite tend to control access to those things. Experienced aid workers have seen this phenomenon before; our efforts to assist the poorest also end up making the richest even richer.

And of course, Haiti's wealthy businessmen also have a stake in how the reconstruction takes place. A friend described an absurd moment from a recent meeting of a number of aid agencies with President Rene Preval.

The president, my friend said, announced that he'd just received a message on his BlackBerry from the owner of one of Haiti's private water companies. The man was concerned that aid agencies were giving out free water to people in camps and said it would ruin the economy.

No one in the room knew how to respond.

The government's recent establishment of a settlement commission is a positive sign, as is its change in rhetoric from talking about temporary shelter to more permanent housing. But more aggressive cleanup is urgently needed, as are efforts to start resettling some of the displaced.

U.S. and European donors need to exert more diplomatic pressure on the Haitian government to remove obstructions, most notably those for importing capital items. A hurricane contingency plan is urgently needed.

Meanwhile, the view from the rain-soaked tents in Port-au-Prince is bleak. Graffiti calling for Preval's ouster has started appearing everywhere, but with endemic corruption and a fractious, weak opposition, a clear alternative has yet to appear. Until earthmovers arrive and the rubble clearance operation begins in earnest, the hundreds of thousands of displaced families can do no better than pray that another disaster doesn't come before reconstruction.

- E. Thomas Johnson is humanitarian response coordinator for the Danish relief organization DanChurchAid.

Friday, June 25, 2010


(AP) - By Jonathan M. Katz

PORT-AU-PRINCE -- U.N. and Haitian police raided a crowded earthquake survivor camp on Friday (June 18th) to capture 30 criminal suspects in the biggest law-enforcement operation since the Jan. 12 earthquake.

The pre-dawn raid startled the tens of thousands living under leaky plastic tarps around a monumental flagpole at Port-au-Prince's abandoned military airport. Most said they were grateful for the incursion, which they hope will reduce rampant crime in the burgeoning shantytown.

"They arrested people who are causing trouble. They're people who go into people's tents and tarps and take cell phones," said Relye Lima, a 24-year-old. "They are making sure people can sleep at night in peace."

The incursion was a response to rising insecurity at homeless settlements that are still swelling more than five months after the earthquake. The numbers of people streaming in in search of aid, unable to make rent in houses that are otherwise habitable, have swelled the camps to an estimated 1.5 million people.

Police swept through one of Port-au-Prince's largest and most crowded settlements, nicknamed "Jean-Marie Vincent" after a Roman Catholic priest gunned down in 1994. Since shortly after the quake, people have been adding permanent metal and wood elements to their tents, turning what was an empty field used for soccer games into a huge slum.

Brazilian soldiers with the 14,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping force formed a perimeter around the camp shortly before dawn. Some 165 U.N. police and Haitian police, many in riot gear, then ran into the camp and began looking for suspects, U.N. police spokesman Jean-Francois Vezina said.

There were no reports of tear gas or gunshots being fired during the two-hour operation.

Witnesses said the targeted men scrambled into whatever shelter they could find to hide from authorities.

"We had a lot of cooperation from the people inside the camp," Vezina said.

Jean Brunel, a 32-year-old who sells medication for a few cents a pill, said he was pleased.

"I wasn't able to work today (because of the raid), but I'm happy police are getting involved to provide security in the camp," he said.

One of the men captured is suspected of escaping Port-au-Prince's national penitentiary when a wall cracked during the magnitude-7 quake. All the inmates fled from the dangerously overcrowded prison, where the vast majority were held awaiting prosecution.

The 30 men arrested Friday are being held at a Port-au-Prince police station.


(New York Times) - By Deborah Sontag

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The 22-year-old woman, wearing a gauzy blue dress that she had changed into after her release, spoke in a whispery voice.

Perhaps the worst part of the whole ordeal, she said, was the place where her kidnappers had chosen to imprison her. That they abducted her was terrifying. That they raped her, repeatedly, was too horrendous to absorb just yet.

But stashing her in the ruins of a home? Making her crawl on her stomach beneath a collapsed slab into a destroyed house where they hid her in a pocket of rubble? That was torture, she said.

“Since I had not slept under any roof since the earthquake, I was so scared I could not breathe,” said the woman, Rose, who requested that her full name be withheld.

Rose’s kidnappers told her brother-in-law, who delivered the ransom of about $2,000, that they would kill her if she talked. She had no intention of doing so. But police investigators showed up at the family house in the Delmas 33 neighborhood shortly after her release, and a reporter from The New York Times happened upon the scene, later accompanying Rose to a women’s health clinic at the family’s request.

Being present when Rose and her family were grappling with the horror of her ordeal offered a firsthand glimpse inside the vulnerability that many Haitians, and particularly women, feel right now. Sleeping in camps, on the street and in yards, many feel themselves at the mercy not only of the elements but of those who prey on others’ misery.

So many cases of rape go unrecorded here that statistics tell only a piece of the story. But existing numbers, from the police or women’s groups, indicate that violence against women has escalated in the months after the Jan. 12 earthquake. Kidnappings are rare, but they, too, have increased, and “the threat is constant,” said Antoine Lerbours, a spokesman for the Haitian National Police.

Malya Villard, director of Kofaviv, a grass-roots organization that supports rape victims, said that the presence of thousands of prisoners who escaped during the earthquake aggravated an environment where insecurity and despair feed on each other.

“It’s an ideal climate for rape,” she said.

Ms. Villard said that Kofaviv’s two dozen case workers, in Port-au-Prince, had counseled 264 victims since the earthquake, triple the number in an equivalent period last year. Arrests for rape are fewer — 169 countrywide through May, but more arrests have been made in the last few months than during the same period last year.

Since the earthquake, international relief groups have expressed concerns about violence against women, especially in the camps under their watch. Poor or nonexistent lighting, unlockable latrines, adjacent men’s and women’s showers and inadequate police protection have all been problems.

Recently, security in eight big camps has improved, with joint Haitian-United Nations police posts or patrols; about 100 Bangladeshi policewomen arrived late last month to deal with gender-based violence at three of them. But there are about 1,200 encampments throughout Haiti, and this city’s battered neighborhoods are largely left to their own defenses, too.

Rose and her relatives recently moved back to their properties when the owner of the property where they were squatting threatened the tent city residents with eviction. Their homes have been marked with a yellow stamp by surveyors, meaning they are damaged but fixable. Rose and her relatives sleep outside them, fitfully. They were scared of the “young thugs in Mafia sunglasses,” Rose’s cousin said, even before Rose’s abduction.

On May 10, Rose, a statuesque woman who is learning to be a beautician, went out to buy some cookies. A police officer whom she knew beckoned her to sit in his unmarked car, she said. She did. Then two men ordered the officer out of the car, taking his gun and driving off with Rose.

The men shoved her into the back, and made her lie face down. She does not know what neighborhood they took her to; it was empty and rubble-filled, and had many destroyed houses. When she protested entering one, they slapped her, she said, and forced her to squeeze through the collapsed entrance. They pushed her into a crawl space beneath a fallen ceiling.

“I was scared mute,” she said. “Only when they raped me did I scream. It hurt.”

Clutching her pelvis as she talked, Rose said that the men had taken turns, raping her seven times. “Or maybe eight,” she said, shutting her eyes.

The police officer showed up at Rose’s house the morning after she was kidnapped to tell the family what had happened. “He waited all night while we lay awake terrified,” her brother-in-law said. “He was looking for his car. We said, ‘What about Rose?’ He said, ‘We’ll look for her, but, you know, you will hear from them first.’ ”

The kidnappers used Rose’s cellphone to call. They put it on speaker phone and hit her repeatedly so her family could listen to her cry out in pain.

“They demanded $50,000 American,” her uncle, a vendor, said. “That’s crazy. I don’t have 10 gourdes to my name. But they said, ‘Don’t bother going to a voodoo priest. He can’t help you. Don’t bother calling Obama. He can’t help you, either. Just give us money, or we will kill the girl.’ ”

Over the next few days, the family managed to raise $2,000 in gourdes, the Haitian currency, from neighbors. The money was left at a drop site on Sunday evening. At 3 a.m. Monday, Rose was blindfolded and put on the back of a mototaxi. When she arrived home, she collapsed into a fetal position at the door to her house and knocked weakly.

Several hours later, the police investigators arrived. Family members encircled Rose as she answered questions in a monotone. Occasionally they peered out at the street through the cracks in their home, fearful that the kidnappers were watching.

Rose had already changed her clothes and bathed, which she did not know would frustrate the collection of evidence. But the police did not raise the issue, anyway, her family said.

When the police left, Rose rode in the back of a car to a Doctors Doctors Without Borders clinic, wincing in pain as it bumped over rutted roads. At the tented clinic, she was instructed to take a seat on a bench. Another woman, slim and poised, entered the open-air waiting room and told a nurse she needed to see a gynecologist.

“Infection?” the nurse asked. “A case of rape,” the young woman answered, in clipped French.

She had been invited to a “literary circle” in a tent city the previous evening, she said. “No books were discussed,” she said. The two victims sat side by side and stared straight ahead. The nurse said that the clinic had treated about 60 victims in May.

When Rose was called into an examining tent, she stumbled, woozy from hunger. The nurse gave her a couple of packages of crackers. Rose said, “I don’t have any money for those.” The nurse told her they were free. Rose offered one of the packages to a Times reporter, who declined and left her to be examined privately.

Rose was discharged with an armful of condoms and pill boxes: antibiotics for sexually transmitted diseases, anti-H.I.V. treatment, pills for vaginitis and over-the-counter painkillers.

As she emerged, her uncle — whom Rose calls Papa — watched her from a distance, tears streaming down his face.

“Beautiful child, oh beautiful child,” he said. “Look into my eyes and you will know how I feel.

When is this all going to end? Haven’t we suffered enough?”

Thursday, June 24, 2010


(AP) - By Rukmini Callimachi

PORT-AU-PRINCE -- Time was up, not 10 minutes into the visit. The social worker went to pull the 3-year-old orphan out of the arms of the woman he calls "Momma."

The boy turned his face and dug his hands into her clothes. He kicked his legs. He screamed as they carried him away.

Tamara Palinka covered her mouth to hold back the sobs. The 37-year-old Canadian volunteer aid worker did not know when - or if - she would get another glimpse of the child she was desperately trying to adopt.

International adoption has always been a sensitive subject in Haiti, a reminder that the country is too poor to care for its own. After January's quake, the Haitian government effectively slammed the door shut on most adoptions altogether. With no foster care system and virtually no domestic adoption in Haiti, untold numbers of children orphaned by the quake - like the 3-year-old known as Sonson - now face a lifetime inside an institution.

The crackdown on adoption came in response to two incidents. First, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell flew 53 children from a destroyed orphanage run by two Pittsburgh sisters back to the U.S., after a tense standoff with officials at the Haiti airport. Then a group of U.S. missionaries tried to take 33 Haitian children out of the country without papers, claiming they were orphans when in fact all had at least one living parent.

Infuriated, the Haitian government announced that all children leaving the country would need the signature of Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive. Since then, the government has relented somewhat, but it still allows only the adoption of children orphaned before the quake or those relinquished by their parents in the presence of a judge.

"The sad part is that because of a few people's mistakes, children that could find a good home and are waiting for a home will now have to suffer for years - and may never get a home at all," says Miriam Frederick, founder of the New Life Childrens Home orphanage.

At another orphanage, Sonson sits apart from the other children.

He stares at the floor."Who is your momma?" asks an orphanage worker. "Mara," he whispers.

"Do you miss her?" He nods.

---The first thing people saw after the ground stopped shaking on Jan. 12 was the thick, white cloud. It was the dust kicked up by hundreds of falling buildings. People pulled out of the destruction looked like they had been doused in flour.

Three weeks passed before anyone noticed the 3-year-old. The only part of him not covered in white dust was his foot, which was stained red with blood.

Two women saw him playing by himself on top of a destroyed house and assumed his parents were nearby. But after four days and nights, they realized he spent all day on top of the rubble by himself.

Then they noticed his belly was getting bigger, a sign of malnutrition. He was picking through the rubble for trash to eat. They carried him to the nearby office of the Salvation Army.

The toddler was covered with dust, didn't talk and looked dazed, according to the charity's report. His foot was infected, so they transferred him to a field hospital set up by the University of Miami on the grounds of the airport.

---Palinka could hear the hospital before she saw it.

Hundreds of people were screaming. Children moaned in pain as nurses changed bandages on their raw stumps. Families yelled out for help for their dying relatives.

For the next two months, she often worked 24-hour shifts without a break. She was paged when the generator stopped working, when the medical supplies ran low, when the water ran out and multiple times a day when a patient died.

"Everyday I catch my heart in my throat," she wrote in a journal entry.

An athletic blond, Palinka had been working drafting safety procedures at an oil refinery. By the time the quake hit Haiti, she had enough saved up to take a leave of absence.

She had been at the hospital for three weeks when the 3-year-old was brought in and placed in a cot. It was dark when they told her an orphan had been rescued from a trash pile.

The other children in the pediatric ward had parents nearby. At night, the mothers crawled into the cots with their children.

Palinka felt a sudden sadness. The boy looked so small, swallowed by the adult-sized cot. She didn't want him to wake up alone.

On a whim, she got in the cot with him.

She tried to sleep but couldn't. She listened to the sounds inside the sauna-like tent - coughing, the whimpering of a child in pain, nurses brushing past, doctors talking and the alarm set off by a little girl in the emergency room.

In the morning, the 3-year-old stirred. He rolled toward her, glanced at her, then quickly turned away. She felt that her side was wet. He had peed all over the cot.

She changed him. She gave him baths inside a plastic laundry tub. She rummaged through the donations flown in from Miami to find him fresh clothes and a play pen.

When she first tried to clip his toe nails, he pulled in his feet and curled them into little balls.

Coaxing him in Creole, a Haitian nurse slowly got him to extend his feet.

The food at the hospital came in a styrofoam takeaway container. She placed the box in front of the 3-year-old. He opened it and threw one leg over it, as if to shield it from anyone who might try to steal his food.

He ate in famished gulps until he couldn't eat anymore. Then he hid the box under a table. When she took him outside, he grabbed a fistful of dirt and stuffed it inside his mouth. The doctors determined that he had worms, most likely from eating food off the ground.

At lunchtime, the nurses placed the takeaway box on the floor of his play pen. Palinka returned to find him asleep in a pile of rice. When he lifted his face, chunks of rice were glued to his cheek.

One morning, as she lowered him into his play pen and turned to leave, he threw up his arms and screamed out, "Momma!"

---At first the little boy only looked at his feet. She would tell him softly, "regarde moi" - "look at me." He started to give her furtive glances. She took him into her tent, away from the clamor of the pediatric tent.

He started to talk to himself. Sometimes he sang. One of his favorite games was to blow on her stomach, making the sound of a motorboat.

She asked a Haitian translator to figure out his name. The translator got down on one knee to ask him. The child stared at his feet. He repeated the question. And then the child answered.

"Sonson," he said.

She brought a different translator. And then a third one. Each time the answer was the same. On her Facebook page on Feb. 13, Palinka wrote: "Sonson is a good name."

Two days later she posted: "Tamara Palinka wants to take Sonson home! will start the process tomorrow."

In Alberta, Palinka's mother Kate Millar wrote back: "Is Sonson a child you are hoping to adopt??? Am I going to be a grandmother???"

International adoptions by U.S. households have fallen from a high of around 23,000 in 2004 to roughly half that last year, according to U.S. State Department figures. Haiti is the latest of several former "donor" countries to put a freeze on such adoptions.

Vietnam and Guatemala have halted adoptions altogether. South Korea - one of the first countries from which orphans were sent - has revised its rules to make adoptions increasingly difficult.

"There is a sense in many many countries that to be a 'sending' country is an embarrassment," says adoption lawyer Diane Kunz, executive director of the Center for Adoption Policy and an expert on adoptions from Haiti. "Their perspective is 'Our patrimony is our children.' It's as if you are giving this away."

---By his second week at the hospital, Sonson was transformed. He sang and danced. At dinner, he beat a stick on the back of the styrofoam container like an instrument.

He begged for food. Other volunteers gave him candy and snacks. Some days Palinka would come to feed him and see he had already two empty styrofoam boxes in front of him. Several times he vomited on her. One night she took him to see a doctor at 2 a.m. because he was complaining of a stomach ache.

She taped a sign to the back of his shirt. "Please do not feed me," it said. "My mommy does that."

One time, she went to get him for his nap and couldn't find him. A volunteer had walked off with him.

"I was like, 'What are you doing?' Don't you ever ever walk off with him again."

---"I've made up my mind so don't even try to stop me," Millar wrote her daughter in an e-mail. "I'm coming down to see my grandson."

The two slept with Sonson between them.

Millar saw her daughter transformed into a mother. It was in every gesture - from the soft way she spoke to him, to the constant attentiveness she showed him.

"In my case that is something that I grew into by giving birth myself to a child. She didn't grow into it by being pregnant," Millar says. "When I saw her, she was a mom - in every way she is a mom. This is her son. ... I'm so proud of her."

---As Palinka spent more time with Sonson, her attention began to shift away from the hospital.

Then the order came from Miami. The rainy season was starting. The hospital needed to downsize.

None of the orphans had medical conditions that required them to stay. Palinka was tasked with contacting the government to transfer them to orphanages.

She clashed bitterly with the hospital's management, according to several volunteers. She accused the hospital of trying to 'unload' the orphans. Hospital officials accused her of letting her feelings for Sonson blindside her. A spokeswoman for the hospital said it does not comment on personnel issues.

Within days, the orphans - including Sonson - were registered with the state's child welfare agency.When Palinka returned, hospital officials relinquished her of her duties. They said she was spending too much time with Sonson.

A 6-minute video shot on a co-worker's Blackberry phone shows Palinka's final moments with Sonson before he was taken away.

He is sitting on her lap in the backseat of an SUV. He pinches her lips together, like a fish. Then he leans forward and kisses her over and over again.

When the SUV pulled away, Palinka waved until the car had driven out of sight. Then she sobbed until she started dry heaving in the hospital's parking lot.

Within a week she aged. Her eyes were hollows. Her face was taut. She carried his toy car in her pocket for comfort.

"I see her, and you don't even want to ask what's going on," says Jen Jasilewicz, the hospital's chief nursing officer. "It amazes me. You have someone who wants to give her love and all those beautiful things to a child, and she is not being allowed to."

Haitian officials say they are trying to protect children from possible exploitation.

"International adoption should always be a last resort," says former Deputy Gerandale Telusma, who headed a committee charged with drafting the country's new adoption law. "We need to first make sure there is no other family willing to take the child ... to make sure they don't enter into some kind of nightmare."

It is a position backed by the United Nations Children's Fund, which helped create a database for unaccompanied children after the Haiti quake. The aim is to reunite children with their extended families, even if family members say they cannot care for the child.

Michel Forst, the United Nations' independent expert on human rights in Haiti, says the adoption freeze is necessary.

"There were lots of people that were coming here and doing whatever the heck they wanted. So it needed to be put on hold so that we could make sure that these adoptions were being done in a legal manner," Forst says."And yes, it's hard. It's hard for the well-meaning families that are waiting to adopt children. And it's hard for the children that are being prevented from running into the arms of these families."

---Sonson was transferred to a modern orphanage in a village a 1 1/2 hour drive from downtown Port-au-Prince. Palinka spent her remaining weeks in Haiti trying to get visitation rights.

On her first visit, she was told to call a child welfare case worker at 8 a.m. Palinka says she called more than 20 times between 8 and noon and each time was told to call back "in 10 minutes." She was then told to drive to the side of the highway leading to the village and wait.

She says she waited for more than two hours in the sweltering car before the case worker arrived. Jeanne Bernard Pierre, the head of the child welfare agency, declined to comment.

The woman took her to see Sonson. She didn't recognize him.

His head had been shaven. He was sitting by himself on the floor. The other children rushed at her, screaming. "Where is he?" she asked.

"Don't you recognize him? That's him," said the woman.

She crouched on her knees. "Sonson?" she said. He looked up and then away. She scooped him up in her arms. He held on tightly. He made no sound, until they tried to pull him away. And then he screamed.

In the month since they were separated she has seen him twice more. Each time she finds him diminished. "He looks smaller. He's no longer making eye contact," she said.

He cannot be declared an orphan for at least six months, to give his family a chance to reclaim him if they are alive. After that, he enters the bureaucratic labyrinth of Haiti's adoption limbo.

Even before the earthquake, the waiting time for the roughly 300 Haitian children adopted each year into U.S. households was two to three years. So even if the government accepts Palinka's application, 3-year-old Sonson will be waiting for about as long as he has been alive.

---On her last supervised visit, Palinka was allotted 20 minutes with him. She arrived an hour early. She brought him his bike with the training wheels.

Through a translator she tried to explain what would happen next. "I'm going to go away for a long time, but I will come back for you," she told him.

When the visit was up, she lifted him onto the bike. Engrossed, he pedaled away.

She quietly slipped out. She kept her bloodshot eyes on the ground as she walked briskly out of the gravel driveway, his toy car in her pocket.


I was really looking forward to going to Canada on June 29th and not having to worry about earthquakes, aftershocks and things going on in Haiti for 3 weeks and I sure was surprised when on the internet yesterday afternoon was news of an earthquake in Canada of a 5.0 magnitude. I am letting my family know that if there are any aftershocks in Canada while I am there to not be surprised that I decide to sleep in a tent. Sleeping in a tent is very comfortable! We spent 3 months in tents in our yard after the earthquake in January and it was comfortable and cooler than sleeping in the house and with less mosquitoes!

The following is a video about the earthquake in Canada. Follow the link to:

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


(The Palm Beach Post) - By Lannis Waters

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — This collapsed capital does not look much different than it did the week after the Jan. 12 earthquake.

In the badly hit neighborhoods, large mounds of rubble remain, block after block and piles obstruct traffic.

"I don't know why they haven't done more to clean it up," says Jackie St. Albans, 65, a Haitian-American and former U.S. Immigration Service employee in Miami, retired in Haiti. "There is rubble everywhere. It's a problem and it is depressing for people to look at, day after day. You wonder what is going on. Where all the money that came into Haiti is going."

Many Haitians feel the same. And now members of the U.S. Senate are also wondering. Tuesday, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, issued a report harshly critical of the slow cleanup and rebuilding of Haiti, the stalled resettlement of displaced people, the failure to prepare for hurricanes, and the lack of coordination among foreign donors who pledged $5 billion to rebuild the country.

The report says the opportunity to remake Haiti from the "dysfunctional, unsustainable" nation it has been for years, is in danger of being lost.

The eight-page document was made public just as U.S. legislators must decide whether to authorize $2 billion to support the country's reconstruction. The report finds no problem with the supply of water, food and medical care.

"Many immediate humanitarian relief priorities appear to have been met," the report says, "(but) there are troubling signs that the recovery and longer term rebuilding activities are flagging."

The document criticizes the government of Haitian President Rene Preval and Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, saying it has "not done an effective job of communicating to Haitians that it is in charge and ready to lead the rebuilding effort."

Bellerive responded by saying that Haitian officials are working to ensure reconstruction does not simply mean the rebuilding of slums.

"We understand the impatience and we are the ones more frustrated than anybody," he said.

The Senate committee's frustration begins with the rate of cleanup.

"Five months after the earthquake, rubble blocks and slows travel on roads in many parts of Port-au-Prince, leading to horrific traffic congestion and continuing to make sections of the city impassable," the report says. "Rubble removal is the first critical step towards reconstruction. It is a precursor to accessible roads, ports, airports, as well as improved infrastructure such as water, sewage and electrical systems."

Dimitry Leger, spokesperson for the U.N. Development Program, which coordinates rubble removal, said parts of crumbled buildings were being removed every day, but critics don't understand the extent of the task. Some 200,000 structures fell in the quake, creating 17 million cubic meters of rubble.

"We have only 300 dump trucks and each truck holds about eight cubic meters," he said. "You have to fill a lot of trucks to remove 17 million cubic meters. We really need 1,500 trucks, but we don't have the resources."

Imogen Wall, spokesperson for the U.N. Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said the 17 million figure "doesn't count the fact that about 25 percent of the buildings still standing are too dangerous to inhabit and will also have to be demolished and removed."

She said the rubble removal goes slowly because much of it proceeds in tight urban spaces where large equipment often can't be used. Instead, teams of workers break up chunks of concrete and throw them into dump trucks.

Some 100,000 Haitians worked in rubble removal at least part of the time during the past five months. They are paid $5 per day.

"At the current rate, it is going to take six years to clean it all out," Wall said.

Wall and Leger said the cleanup is being handled in part by the Haitian government, private firms both Haitian and foreign, and by international organizations.

One of the main problems is finding where to dump the rubble, which can not be used in reconstruction until it is recycled.

"We have two sites right now, but we will need many more," Leger said.

The problem of finding land is the same difficulty encountered in relocating people left homeless by the quake -- the Haitian government has little land and must rely on private owners reluctant to make land available, at least for the prices being offered.

In the U.S. and Western Europe, laws of eminent domain exist, allowing government to take private land for public use and pay the owner fair compensation.

"There is no tradition of that here," said Leger. "And no one can do it by fiat."

He says government leaders and the private sector are negotiating, but in a country where the central government has been weak, it will be difficult.

Meanwhile, the removal of the rubble continues at its slow pace. The depressing mounds of rubble are still there, day after day. Haitians believe the cleanup money is simply being stolen by persons with influence.

Walls says another problem the work crews encounter is that, in some collapsed buildings, they encounter dead bodies.

"Then the whole process must stop while the remains are dealt with properly," says Wall. "That takes time."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


The guys were all serious before the world cup soccer match Sunday afternoon. The neighborhood cheered everytime Brazil scored. Amos is the lone Argentina fan. Manu isn't in the picture. He has a Spain shirt and missed the photo because he was down the street at Frenel's shop watching the game with the neighbors. He is a very sociable kid!

The following is an aricle about world cup soccer here in Haiti:

PORT-AU-PRINCE—Screams of joy sweep through the broken Haitian capital and a few celebratory gunshots echo off the rubble. Is it a new president? A returning hero? No, Brazil just scored in the World Cup.

Haitians love Brazilian soccer like almost nothing else, a half-century-old histoire d’amour that even smoothed the way for Brazil-led U.N. peacekeepers to help quell political unrest in 2004.

With Haitians badly needing a release from tension and misery of the post-quake year, the 2010 Cup and Selecao mean more than ever.

Some 2,500 fans streamed into the national Silvio Cator Stadium Sunday to watch them beat Ivory Coast on a giant, donated LED screen, the feed from South Africa pulled down by a 12-foot satellite dish at midfield. Fans crowded around televisions and radios throughout Port-au-Prince, including projection screens U.N. peacekeepers set up in several camps.

“Brazil! It’s always Brazil. We grew up with Pele. He was a black man like us and one of the greatest players in the world,” said 46-year-old Jhon Daudin, who handed out a few hundred homemade noisemakers—cleaned-out bottles painted green and yellow and filled with a pittance of dry, U.N.-provided corn.

The streets were filled with Brazilian flags both official and handmade, draped over cars, flapping behind motorcycles and hung from collapsed buildings on Route de Delmas, where a crowd gathered after Brazil’s 3-1 win.

A first-time visitor would be forgiven thinking Haiti’s national colors are green and yellow: fans covered their bodies, hung streamers and painted walls with the borrowed hues, only occasionally throwing in Haiti’s own red and blue national colors for good measure.

“We don’t have anything else to do these days. This is a great distraction,” said 25-year-old Fritz Jean, whose home collapsed in the Jan. 12 quake. Like some 1.5 million others, his entire family in the district of Carrefour has been living under a plastic sheet for five months.

Haiti’s weak national soccer team (it only qualified for the World Cub once, in 1974) and strong ties with Brazil make it easy to back the five-time cup winner.

When the magnitude-7 earthquake struck, Brazil suffered as well, losing top officials in the destroyed U.N. headquarters and 10 soldiers in the concrete outpost in Cite Soleil. As the world pledged its help in rebuilding, Brazil was the first and—until this week—the only nation to pay money into a reconstruction trust fund.“Soccer diplomacy” goes back even further.

Haiti’s national stadium scoreboard still bears a faded sign from the 2004 “Game for Peace.” The capital was tearing itself apart in gang wars after the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide; U.S. Marines were on their way out and a Brazil-led peacekeeping force on its way in. Ronaldo and spectator-in-chief President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva won hearts by coming to the bleeding capital for a match against an overwhelmed Haitian national team.

When a Jordanian contingent couldn’t pacify the dangerous Cite Soleil slum, Brazilians were sent in. Those who remember say their training from fighting in Brazil’s favelas helped, but not as much as the immediate respect the flags on their arms drew. Slum residents joined them to defeat the gangs.

“The Haitians are as much Brazilian as the Brazilians themselves in the soccer field. So, Brazilian soccer diplomacy and in this case generosity has won our hearts,” Raymond Joseph, Haiti’s ambassador to the U.S., said in a World Bank statement at the time.

But politics are a distant second to what it’s really about: winning well-played soccer. Haitians’ passion for soccer runs deep. Pickup games are played in the slums, streets and earthquake camps, anywhere there is space. The contrarians side with Argentina - and by extension whoever is playing Brazil on any given day.

There is no doubt who gets the most support.

Outside the soccer stadium, a giant morgue with thousands of bodies just after the quake, Brazilian soldiers on Sunday handed out jerseys from an armored personnel carrier. In a clever piece of marketing, the yellow, green-trimmed shirts bore a Haitian and Brazilian flag over each breast and the slogan “Ansanm Pou Lape” (together for peace) on the front, and the French initials of the 14,000-strong force, MINUSTAH, in green on the back.

Inside, soldiers provided low-key security, posing for pictures and strolling in baseball caps instead of their usual sky-blue helmets. When Brazil jumped out 2-0, most looked more impressed with the ecstasy in the stands than Luis Fabiano’s two soaring shots to the back of the net.

“It’s very beautiful, this love, this situation,” said a beaming Lt. Richard Spindola, 26, a soldier from the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre. Asked if Haitians were more passionate about Brazilian soccer than he and his friends, he smiled. “Oh yes, I think so. This is a big party.”

When the game briefly turned sour—Kaka was ejected for a foul and Ivory Coast notched a lone goal—the stadium crew put on dance music to settle the crowd. Cheerleaders in tight white shorts and yellow jerseys danced through the stands.

A popular local DJ, Bem Constant, egged on the crowd, riffing on players names: “You want Kaka? Here is Kaka!” he shouted to applause and laughter. (The name of Brazil’s star player is also a dirty word in Creole.)

In the end, Brazil secured the victory 3-1, qualifying for the second round, and the crowd poured with everyone else into the cracked and crumbling streets.All the destruction, stalled rebuilding, hunger and loss melted away in a few happy minutes of dancing and horn-honking. The home team had won.

photos - kimosabee walk - part 1

Kimosabee "snapped a belt" the other week and we had to leave him at a missionary's home in the Delmas 75 area. We continued on with Mike and Angela on foot and traveled by tap tap. This gave us time to "experience nature"!

This tree is called a "flambe brillant" (brilliant flaming). It has beautiful red flowers.

We headed down Delmas 31 on foot and noticed these soldiers from Brazil. They were looking at a map. Maybe they were lost!

The Delmas 31 bridge is under construction. A new base on one side has been built for the bridge.

This is the main water pipe that goes down Delmas 31.

photos - kimosabee walk - part 2

This is the reason we have no city water. The pipes are at the bottom of the ravine! We still get a bill though. I think I need to bring a photo of their broken pipes to their office.

One of the support columns has started to be built. This man is holding on to descend down the slope.

Hopefully the base of the support doesn't get undermined by the rushing water when it rains.

It is an experience now walking up Delmas 31!

No boardwalk is in place to avoid the water.

Monday, June 21, 2010

photos - kimosabee walk - part 3

Mike and Angela are enjoying our walk in getting to the other side of Delmas 31.

The stream is eroding more dirt every rain storm. It looks like a gorge is forming!

There is still rubble everywhere on the streets of Port-au-Prince. It makes it a challenge to get around for vehicles and fresco wagons too!

These last couple pictures are of some rubble piles on Delmas 31 near our street corner.

Our electrical line to the house needs replacing. The current isn't strong enough to run our water filter. A couple of times a week we go down the street to the "Eau Miracle" (Miracle Water) depot to fill our water jugs.

photos - kimosabee walk - part 4

People are trying to rebuild. Members of a church in our neighborhood are framing a church on the top of this building.

They are not professional carpenters. I don't think the church will stand in heavy winds!

World Cup fever is here! This man is adding yet another wire to the spaghetti of wires hanging from this pole.

The people living in these tarp shelters want to watch the games and are adding more wires to the pole.

We were walking down the street and this woman asked us to take a photo of her child.