Thursday, September 30, 2010


(Sentinel-Review) - By Heather Rivers

His name was Junior and he wandered into a Port-au-Prince makeshift medical clinic about a week after the 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit on Jan. 12.

"He came into the clinic wearing a bandana and said his head hurt," explained London-resident Tanya Bultje, a member of the local group known as Angels for Haiti.

It turns out the 20-year-old Haitian had been wandering the Port-au-Prince streets for a week with his head split open and brain exposed.

"How he was walking and talking we have no idea," Bultje said.

Bultje and her "Angels" later learned that both of Junior's parents had been killed in the quake, and Junior had been trapped in the rubble for hours until he was rescued. He had been sleeping with his six-year-old sister on bath towels on the side of the road.

Junior's is just one of many stories the Angels for Haiti tell about their traumatic experiences this year in Haiti.

While they have visited Haiti about seven times since 2005, the group has been to Haiti three times since the earthquake hit to deliver medical and food supplies and lend a hand in the medical clinic.

Angels for Haiti is comprised of Bultje, whose sister Karen runs Coram Deo Learning Centre, a Christian mission for orphans and children in need; Otterville resident Marlene Magashazi; her daughter Teresa Magashazi from Brownsville; Woodstock resident Teresa Ciasek, and Elizabeth Pais from Courtland.

Marlene Magashazi, Bultje, Ciasek and Pais all met through their jobs as personal support workers at Woodstock's Woodingford Lodge.

Bultje said, after receiving medical attention, Junior now lives and works as security for Coram Deo, and his sister is also attending school there.

He has become very close to the Angels, whom he credits with his survival.

"He cries and puts his arms around us and says he can never thank us enough," Bultje said.

The Angels began travelling to Coram Deo in the Delmas district in 2005 to help with projects such as building a septic system, constructing a playground and helping with feeding programs.

After the earthquake worried and uncertain of the fate of many of the children at Coran Deo, three members of the team decided to go and do what they could to help.

They landed in the Dominican Republic with 23 kilograms each of medical supplies and gained admission to Haiti by pretending to be a doctor and two nurses.

"You have to do what you have to do," Marlene Magashazi said.

Surviving on strawberry Pop Tarts -- the mission had just received a shipment -- the trio worked tirelessly in the medical clinic, sleeping outside on milk bags in tents with 200 others.

Bultje said they were working so hard she actually slept through a 6.0 aftershock.

"I was exhausted," she said. Despite witnessing numerous severe traumatic injuries, Magashazi said she is grateful everyone they treated survived. The group used their vacation time to return to Haiti in February and May, and plan to return on Jan. 31 for seven days.

They fund their trips through fundraisers, and selling jams and apple pies.

Today the trio is trying to raise awareness about the current state of the Haitian people. The country has recently experienced a hurricane in which 8,000 tents were destroyed and many damaged.

"People are living in adverse conditions," Bultje said. "It's only getting worse. My sister is having a lot of difficulty. It's overwhelming.

"There had been a flood of people again at her gate."

Bultje said money that has been donated through aid organizations has been frozen because "they don't how to distribute it."

And food and other supplies at the airport are rotting because it's becomes too dangerous to distribute due to mob violence, she said.

"The people are literally getting nothing," Bultje said. "It's the little people on the ground -- non-government organizations like my sister's -- that are making the biggest difference."

The group stresses the importance of donating money because of the difficulty of transporting supplies.

Anyone wishing to contact the group can call 519-788-8848 or 519-680-3306 or visit their Facebook site "Angels for Haiti."

photos - handicapped - part 1

The storm last Friday did a lot of damage, but we did see a couple humorous effects of the storm. We were at the intersection of Delmas and Delmas 40-B and I looked to see what color the stop light was. I then noticed there was no stoplight for our side of the street! Amos was with me and I asked him what happened to the stop light? ....

He pointed off to the left and said "There it is!" The blowing of the wind had moved the position of the stop light. That wind sure was strong!

This tree came down by Delmas 45. This year the works department added sidewalk and curb on the street. They haven't gotten around to paving the street yet. Because the roots of this tree were in the way when they were preparing to pour the cement they just chopped them. As a result when the winds blew there were not much roots to hold the tree and it flopped over against this house!

There is some removal going on. A heavily damaged section was the road leading from Bourdon to Rte. Canape Vert. Traffic was slowed by this back hoe loading rubble into the dumptruck.

It is difficult for a loader to scoop the rubble because of the narrow street and it is easier in this instance to use a back hoe. Pray for the rubble removal process. It has been a slow process so far.

photos - handicapped - part 2

The 82-year-old lady from Miragoane came back because her artificial leg was still bothering her. We brought her over to the Healing Hands/Handicapped International Prosthetics/Orthotics Clinic by Poste Marchande and a new leg will be prepared for her. They will call her back when they are ready. She is a very healthy lady.

There are several foreigners regularly coming to Haiti to donate their time in the clinics. They have been making a lot of artificial limbs.

There were 3 big rooms where orthotics and prostheses are designed. There are haitian people involved as well. This man used to work at the St. Vincents' prosthetic clinic before the earthquake. St. Vincents was destroyed during the earthquake and he now works with Handicapped International. Pray for all those working with the handicapped. They are swamped with work.

I saw this nice poster on the wall of the clinic reception area. The handicapped can live and function in society. They just need a helping hand. Pray for the handicapped living in Haiti and for the society around them.

Andilene Chery is now 11-years-old. About 6 years ago she went to the United States to have a brain tumor removed. She is thriving well and her family looks after her well. She goes to school!

photos - healing hands - part 3

Wichtarline already received an operation to treat her hydrocephalus. She came to the house this week to go to the new Healing Hands clinic for a meeting.

The Healing Hands building was destroyed in the earthquake and they just recently found an alternate location in the Bois Verna area. They will be using this new location until another building is rebuilt. Pray for the work of Healing Hands.

Together with Project Medishare they run the hydrocephalus program. After surgeries the families are encouraged to come to Healing Hands for physical therapy.

Miss Justin is a very capable nurse who works with Healing Hands. During the meeting she explained to the parents the plans that Healing Hands has for the program.

The parents who attended have been looking after their children well. Healing Hands offers a few days of seminars to hydrocephalus parents to teach them how to look after their children properly and to educate them about hydrocepahlus. These seminars are done before each surgical team arrives. Parents know what to expect and better look after their children post-op as a result of these seminars. The next seminars will be held next week. Pray that these seminars will be well attended.

photos - healing hands - part 4

This mother is listening intently to what Miss Justin is saying.

Parents have hope that one day their child will be able to sit, stand and walk.

For the child on the left she is catching up quickly in her development. She can sit and is able to verbally communicate. Not all children progress at the same rate. The boy laying on his mothers lap on the right side of the picture has more brain damage. Healing Hands will be able to support the mother by providing a wheelchair and showing her range of motion exercises that she can do at home.

When hydrocephalus surgeries occur early in life there is less brain damage. This girl is standing now and will probably soon progress to walking. One day she too will hopefully be able to attend school.

This mother came to the house this week with her 2-year-old son. She had just picked up lab test results for herself and her son. Hers was positive for HIV and Syphilis. Her son was positive for HIV. She is feeling sick and is still undergoing testing to see if she has Tuberculosis as well. We will work with this mother to make sure that both her and her son get registered in the HIV treatment programs that are in place here in Haiti. With treatment she and her son will have an opportunity to have a longer life. Pray for both of them.

photos - various - part 5

Elections for president will be held on November 28th. The official campaign period has now started. There are posters put up across the city. This one is for Jude Celestin whose party is Inite. This is the political organization that the current president has formed. Jude Celestin is a strong favorite to be the next president of Haiti.

Mirlande Manigat is also a candidate running for president.

Charles Baker is also a candidate as well.... in all there are 19 candidates vying to be the new president of Haiti. Pray for the electoral process.

We saw this poster which reads "100% for Haiti. Haiti will not perish" Pray for a strong leader to be elected to lead the reconstruction effort of the country.

A group of young adults from the neighborhood is meeting here at Coram Deo to learn english. Those who know how to speak english are teaching others. It is good to see young adults striving to improve their lives.

photos - various - part 6

Our yard is starting to resemble a barn yard again. Rudy's mother enjoys her poultry. This rooster is proud and healthy. He is king of the roost here. He co-operates well though. He doesn't enter the house and he crows at a respectable hour (around 5:30am)

The chickens are another story. They are kept on a string leash so that they don't go inside the living room/pharmacy to lay their eggs.

This week I saw Rudy's mom walk into the yard with a pair of ducks. She told me that she has a male and a female so that they can have baby ducks. The first thing she did is pluck feathers so they couldn't fly away. I don't mind too much. Her son Rudy has finished his cancer treatment and is coming back to Haiti today. The organization that sponsored Rudy in the United States is building Rudy's family a home in the Cap Haitian area. She will be taking her ducks, rooster and chickens with her (I hope). We have been getting some drizzly weather this week. The other morning it was drizzling and I went outside and heard the quacking of ducks. They were happy with the rain.

Benson came up to me the other week and told me that he wants to play baseball and asked me to give him the long ball. I was confused and didn't want to show it so I told him to go in the room and pick up the baseball. He came out with a football. I think he has confused everyone here. The other children have now learned that a football is really a baseball.

Plates disappear sometimes around here and now I have taken a stand. Everyone is responsible for their own plate and needs to look after it themselves. Benson wrote quite a bit on the bottom of his plate to show people that the plate belongs to him.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


(New York Times) - Deborah Sontag

Corail-Cesselesse - It was after midnight in a remote annex of this isolated tent camp on a windswept gravel plain. Marjorie Saint Hilaire's three boys were fast asleep, but her mind was racing.The camp leader had proposed writing letters to the non government authorities, and she had so much to say. She lighted a candle and summoned a gracious sentiment with which to begin.

"To all the members of concerned organizations, I thank you first for feeling our pain," she wrote slowly in pencil on what became an eraser-smudged page. "I note that you have taken on almost all our problems and some of our greatest needs."

Hilaire, 33, then succinctly explained that she had lost her husband and her livelihood to the January 12 earthquake and now found herself hungry, stressed and stranded in a camp annex without a school, a health clinic, a marketplace or any activity at all.

"Please -- do something!" she wrote from Tent J2, Block 7, Sector 3, her new address. "We don't want to die of hunger and also we want to send our children to school. I give glory to God that I am still alive -- but I would like to stay that way!"

In the last couple of weeks, thousands of displaced Haitians have similarly vented their concerns, depositing impassioned pleas for help in new suggestion boxes at a hundred camps throughout the disaster zone. Taken together, the letters form a collective cri de coeur from a population that has felt increasingly impotent and ignored.

With 1.3 million displaced people in 1,300 camps, homelessness is the new normal here. Two recent protest marches have sought to make the homeless a central issue in the coming presidential campaign. But the tent camp residents, miserable, weary and in many cases fighting eviction, do not seem to have the energy to become a vocal force.

When the International Organization for Migration added suggestion boxes to its information kiosks in scores of camps, it did not expect to tap directly into a well of pent-up emotions. "I anticipated maybe a few cranky letters," said Leonard Doyle, who handles communications for the organization in Haiti. "But to my absolute, blow-me-down surprise, we got 700 letters in three days from our first boxes -- real individualized expressions of suffering that give a human face to this ongoing tragedy."

In some cases, the letters contain a breathless litany of miseries, a chain of woes strung together by commas: "I feel discouraged, I don't sleep comfortably, I gave birth six months ago, the baby died, I have six other children, they don't have a father, I don't have work, my tarp is torn, the rain panics me, my house was crushed, I don't have money to feed my family, I would really love it if you would help me," wrote Marie Jean Jean.

In others, despair is expressed formally, with remarkable restraint, "Living under a tent is not favorable neither to me nor to my children" or "We would appreciate your assistance in obtaining a future as one does not appear to be on our horizon."

Several writers sent terse wish lists on self-designed forms, "Name: Paul Wilbert. Camp: Boulos. Need: House. Demand: $1,250. Project: Build house. Thank you."

And some tweaked the truth. Ketteline Lebon, who lives in a camp in the slum area called Cité Soleil, cannot read or write. She dictated a letter to her cousin, who decided to alter Ms. Lebon's story to say that her husband had died in the earthquake whereas he had really died in a car accident. "What does it matter?" Lebon said, shrugging. "I'm still a widow in a tent with four kids I cannot afford to send to school."

At this camp's annex, Corail 3, Sandra Felicien, a regal woman whose black-and-white sundress looks as crisp as if it hangs in a closet, has become the epistolary queen. An earthquake widow whose husband was crushed to death in the school where he taught adult education courses, Felicien said she wrote letters almost daily because doing so made her feel as if she were taking action. "We are so powerless," she said. "It is like we are bobbing along on the waves of the ocean, waiting to be saved."

Like the hundreds of families around her in Corail 3, Felicien and her small son lived first in Camp Fleuriot, a mosquito-infested, flood-prone marsh where many were feverish with malaria or racked by diarrhea. In July, they were brought here to the outskirts of this planned settlement, which is supposed to become a new town someday.

Transitional shelters are being built in this remote spot, and a hundred or so are completed and stand empty. For the moment, though, the one-room houses, like the tents beside them, exist in a sun-scorched vacuum beneath deforested hills. They are surrounded only by latrines, showers and the information kiosk, with its blackboard, bulletin board and suggestion box.

One afternoon last week, Felicien settled onto the tarp-covered rocks in front of her tent -- "my porch" -- and used a covered bucket for a writing desk. She was feeling robust, she said, because a neighbour had just treated her to what amounted to brunch -- a pack of cookies that she had shared with her son.

She started to recopy the rough draft of a letter that she had written that morning. She was writing in Creole, although her French is impeccable, because "only a Haitian could really understand," she said.

While she wrote, with a reporter by her side and a photographer taking her picture, a boisterous crowd from the camp gathered, concerned that she was getting special attention from foreigners.

Their complaints grew so deafening that she rose to address them, explaining that, in fact, the particular letter she was writing was not personal but on behalf of all her neighbours.

Raising her voice to be heard, she read aloud the letter, "September 14. Today we feel fed up with the bad treatment in Block 7. Have you forgotten about us out here in the desert?" The crowd quieted. She continued reading: "You don't understand us. You don't know that an empty bag can't stand. A hungry dog can't play." Other tent camps have health clinics or schools or at least something to do, she read. "Why don't we have such things? Aren't we people, too?"

Heads nodded. The tension dissipated. The crowd dispersed. Felicien walked her letter to the kiosk to post it. "I don't know why I keep writing," she said. "To this point they have not responded. It's like screaming into the wind."

Doyle said that all the letters are read, some aloud on Radio Guinen, which broadcasts daily from tent camps as part of an International Organization for Migration communication program. But the $400,000 program was intended to give voice to the voiceless and not food to the hungry or money to the destitute. So unless the writers express a need for protection, as from rape or abuse by camp leaders, their individual requests are not likely to be answered.

Told this, Felicien said, "Ay yi yi" and shook her head. And then she posted her letter all the same.


The refuge camp featured in the following article is located in our Delmas 31 neighborhood. Rue Zaragua is 2 streets up from our street. The lots these tents are on have been idle for years. The fear of the land owners are that these tents will turn eventually into permanent dwellings. Strong arm tactics are used to pressure people to leave. We visited a camp near us last week where a justice of the peace had come to inform the people that they would have to leave in 2011. The transfer of people from camps to temporary shelters needs to be planned quickly. 2011 will probably be a problem year if nothing is planned in the next 3 months. Pray for places to be found for the refugees.

(Time) - By Tim Padgett and Jessica Desvarieux

(Port-au-Prince) - Two years ago, a wealthy Haitian businesswoman known as Madame Biton allowed preacher Samuel Francois to build a small church on one of the empty lots she owns in the Delmas district of Port-au-Prince. During last January's massive earthquake, Francois opened the church's doors to nearby residents who were screaming in horror as they fled their collapsing houses. After the quake that killed more than 200,000 people and ravaged the Western Hemisphere's poorest country, almost 75 families settled in a makeshift tent camp on the three-acre plot.

At first, Madame Biton did not object. But in the spring, when the Irish NGO Haven Haiti began providing temporary latrines and other aid to the camp, Francois and others say Biton turned hostile. According to the charity, she refused an offer to rent the land until better shelters could be found for the refugees; since then, residents say they have faced police harassment aimed at forcing them to leave. "They tell us, 'Get out of here, you're nothing but dogs,' " says Rosena Desriveaux, 21, who still lives in the Delmas camp in a threadbare tarp shelter with her unemployed husband and 8-month-old baby. They, and about 25 other families, still refuse to leave. "We have no choice but to stay." (The Delmas mayor's office would not comment on the alleged police actions.)

Biton, a bleach factory owner who refused TIME's repeated requests for an interview, has stepped up her efforts to expel the remaining refugees — even depositing dump-truck loads of earthquake rubble on the lot to force them away. "She also wants the church removed," says Francois as he ponders the structure of ragged corrugated tin, worn lumber and tree branches, adorned inside with plastic flowers and lace, which is the refugees' only dry sanctuary when it rains. "She calls me a pig. It saddens me to see people who were once in my community living in the streets."

As world leaders gathered at the United Nations in New York this week ponder how to accelerate Haiti's slow recovery, eviction tragedies like the one in Delmas continue to play out all over Port-au-Prince and other hard hit cities. More than eight months after the quake, only a small fraction of the 1.5 million Haitians it left homeless have been moved into decent temporary or long-term shelter. As a result, many Haitian landowners — part of a social elite widely considered to be one of the hemisphere's least charitable to begin with — have lost patience with the shantytowns that have grown up on their mostly idle properties.

According to the Swiss-based International Organization for Migration (IOM), some 12,000 refugees have been forced out of tent camps since evictions began in earnest over the summer, and 87,000 more are on the brink. "Now they're making the hardships of the IDP's [internally displaced persons] even greater," says one European NGO director who asked not to be identified for fear of angering a landowner with whom he's negotiating a camp's extended stay. "But unfortunately, the Haiti recovery effort still seems to be stuck in its initial phase."

Mountains of debris still cover much of the land that could be used to rehouse refugees, but an even more important obstacle may be Haiti's medieval land tenure system. It was difficult at the best of times to know who owned what property in Haiti; the earthquake destroyed so many titles and deeds that identifying government-owned tracts or other available land on which to relocate the homeless has become that much more daunting.

TIME was unable to locate Biton's title to the Delmas lot on which Francois' church stands, either through local public records bureaus or federal agencies like the General Tax Directorate (DGI).

That's no surprise to Ibere Lopes, an IOM land tenure expert working in Haiti. "None of our searches in the [DGI] has ever been fruitful," says Lopes. "It's practically impossible to obtain any relevant information on ownership." Lopes says he and his legal team tried this month to get federal inspectors to confirm government-owned land in the city of Leogane, west of the capital, where the IOM hopes to put up 200 transitional shelters. But he says the officials, even when brought to the site, had no interest in assessing the ownership unless they were paid by the IOM.

One way through the venal mess, Lopes says, is multi-neighborhood mapping, which entails surveying local residents — and extensive interviews with presumed owners — and then trying to match the findings with any available records. If the process proves successful, it might be a basis on which the Haitian government could start cobbling together a more reliable system.

That in turn would let it designate not just its own properties, but also private land it could rent or purchase via eminent domain. That legal mechanism is sorely lacking in Haiti, but it's one that most refugee advocates say is crucial to shifting the temporary shelter effort into higher gear.

Empty properties such as Madame Biton's, aid workers say, are ideal candidates for purchase by eminent-domain. Like more than two-thirds of Haiti's earthquake-homeless, almost all the remaining tent camp dwellers on Biton's land had been renters when their homes were destroyed, meaning they have fewer places to turn to for shelter. And conditions there are deteriorating: Since Biton had the latrine walls torn down, the refugees use the facilities only in the dark of night. After almost nine months, "by now, we should have found a [better] place to live," says camp resident Marie-Ange Pierre, 28, as she looks out on the squalid scene. Down the road, some who were scared off Biton's lot have settled in a new but even more squalid shantytown in the Rue Zaragua neighborhood. Police have tried to bully them off that land, as well. "They tell us, 'We better not see your faces around here when we come back,' but we're staying," says Virginia Romelus, 22.

Behind her family's row of tents they've set up a pigeon aviary, a typically whimsical Haitian touch amidst the suffering. Watching the birds come and go as freely as they do helps them forget the plight into which they've been locked by the earthquake and Haiti's benighted administration.


(AP) - By Jonathan M. Katz and Martha Mendoza

PORT-AU-PRINCE - Nearly nine months after the earthquake, more than a million Haitians still live on the streets between piles of rubble. One reason: Not a cent of the $1.15 billion the U.S. promised for rebuilding has arrived.

The money was pledged by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in March for use this year in rebuilding. The U.S. has already spent more than $1.1 billion on post-quake relief, but without long-term funds, the reconstruction of the wrecked capital cannot begin.

With just a week to go before fiscal 2010 ends, the money is still tied up in Washington. At fault: bureaucracy, disorganization and a lack of urgency, The Associated Press learned in interviews with officials in the State Department, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the White House and the U.N. Office of the Special Envoy. One senator has held up a key authorization bill because of a $5 million provision he says will be wasteful.

Meanwhile, deaths in Port-au-Prince are mounting, as quake survivors scramble to live without shelter or food.

"There are truly lives at stake, and the idea that folks are spending more time finger-pointing than getting this solved is almost unbelievable," said John Simon, a former U.S. ambassador to the African Union who is now with the Center for Global Development, a Washington think tank.

Nor is Haiti getting much from other donors. Some 50 other nations and organizations pledged a total of $8.75 billion for reconstruction, but just $686 million of that has reached Haiti so far (less than 15 percent of the total promised for 2010-11).

The lack of funds has all but halted reconstruction work by CHF International, the primary U.S funded group assigned to remove rubble and build temporary shelters. Just 2 percent of rubble has been cleared and 13,000 temporary shelters have been built (less than 10 percent of the number planned).

The Maryland-based agency is asking the U.S. government for $16.5 million to remove more than 21 million cubic feet (600,000 cubic meters) of additional rubble and build 4,000 more temporary houses out of wood and metal.

"It's just a matter of one phone call and the trucks are out again. We have contractors ready to continue removing rubble. ... We have local suppliers and international suppliers ready to ship the amount of wood and construction materials we need," said CHF country director Alberto Wilde.

"It's just a matter of money."

Last week the inaction bore tragic results. On Friday an isolated storm destroyed an estimated 8,000 tarps, tents and shacks in the capital and killed at least six people, including two children.

And the threat of violence looms as landowners threaten entire camps with forced eviction.

In Washington there is confusion about the money. At a July hearing, Ravij Shah, director of the U.S. Agency for International Development, thanked members of Congress for approving the funds, saying, "The resources are flowing and are being spent in country."

It wasn't true then, and still hasn't happened.

When the earthquake hit, U.S. agencies sent troops, rescuers, aid workers and supplies to the devastated capital, Port-au-Prince. On March 24, President Barack Obama asked Congress for $2.8 billion in emergency aid to Haiti about half to pay back money already spent by USAID, the Defense Department and others. An additional $212 million was to write off debt.

The heart of the request was $1.15 billion in new reconstruction funds.

A week later, Clinton touted that figure in front of representatives of 50 nations at the U.N. secretariat, the president of Haiti at her side.

"If the effort to rebuild is slow or insufficient, if it is marked by conflict, lack of coordination or lack of transparency, then the challenges that have plagued Haiti for years could erupt with regional and global consequences," Clinton said.

That was nearly six months ago. It took until May for the Senate to pass a supplemental request for the Haiti funds and until July for the House to do the same. The votes made $917 million available but did not dictate how or when to spend it. Without that final step, the money remains in the U.S.Treasury.

Then came summer recess, emergencies in Pakistan and elsewhere, and the distractions of election politics.Now the authorization bill that would direct how the aid is delivered remains sidelined by a senator who anonymously pulled it for further study.

Through calls to dozens of senators' offices, the AP learned it was Sen. Tom Coburn, a Republican from Oklahoma.

"He is holding the bill because it includes an unnecessary senior Haiti coordinator when we already have one" in U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Merten, Coburn spokeswoman Becky Bernhardt said.

The bill proposes a new coordinator in Washington who would not oversee U.S.aid but would work with the USAID administrator in Washington to develop a rebuilding strategy. The position would cost $1 million a year for five years, including salaries and expenses for a staff of up to seven people.

With the bill on hold, the State Department is trying to move the money along by avoiding Congress as much as possible. It sent lawmakers a "spending plan" on Sept. 20 and gave legislators 15 days to review it. If they fail to act on the plan, the money could be released as soon as specific projects get the OK.

"We need to make sure that the needs of the Haitian people are not sacrificed to procedural and bureaucratic impediments," Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry told the AP by e-mail. "As we approach nine months since the earthquake, further delays on any side are unacceptable."

Asked when the money will actually come, State Department spokesman Charles Luoma-Overstreet said the department expects to start spending in the coming weeks and months. He added that $275 million in "bridge" funds were released in March and have gone toward agriculture, work, health and shelter programs not long-term reconstruction.

Haitian advocates say that is not enough.

Jean-Claude Bajeux of the Ecumenical Center for Human Rights in Port-au-Prince said this phase was supposed to be about building semi-permanent houses.

"Where are they? We haven't seen them," he said. "There is not much money that is being used. There is not much work that has actually been done."

Of course there is no guarantee that the money would lead to the successful rebuilding of Haiti. Many past U.S. aid efforts have fallen short.

"I don't think (the money) will make any difference," said Haitian human rights advocate Pierre Esperance. "Haitian people are not really involved in this process."

But officials agree the funds could pay for new approaches to make Haiti more sustainable, and rebuilding projects could improve millions of lives.

The AP found that $874 million of the funds pledged by other countries at the donors conference was money already promised to Haiti for work or aid before the quake. An additional $1.13 million wasn't ever going to be sent; it was debt relief. And $184 million was in loans to Haiti's government, not aid.

The Office of the Special Envoy has been tracking the money delivered so far but does not know who got it. The envoy himself, former President Bill Clinton, told the AP in July and again in August that he was putting pressure on donors to meet their pledges.

On the streets of Haiti, many simply feel abandoned. Mishna Gregoire, 22, said she was happy when she heard about the donors conference. But six months later she is still in a tarp city with 5,000 other people, on a foul-smelling plaza in the Port-au-Prince suburb of Petionville.

"I thought it was something serious they were really going to do," Gregoire said, standing amid tarps torn apart by the sudden storm. "But nothing has been done. And I don't think anything will be done."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

photos - storm - part 1

The people in the refuge camps have been "camping" for 8 months. The tents were becoming brittle. The storm finished off a lot of these tents.

In the St. Louis refuge camp this tree fell on a few tents. Cleanup was started right away.

The wood will be used as fuel for a cooking fire or sold.

After the earthquake people are quick to move. When the winds gusted people ran from their tents to an area where there were no trees. It was a good thing that they reacted quickly. There were no injuries in the St. Louis camp. This large uprooted tree fell on this tent. If the people wouldn't have reacted quickly they probably would be dead. In the Port-au-Prince area it was estimated that 5 people were killed. We saw several instances where God's grace was shown in sparing people's lives in the camps as people avoided injury from falling trees.

The tents that were originally given to the people were large and strong. The wear and tear is showing in most of them. The Red Cross and other organizations need to provide more tents. There is no quick transfer plans being made for the people in the camps. They need to improve their shelter and can not continue to live in conditions that they are in.

photos - storm - part 2

In a lot of the tents the screen doors have been broken by use. In Haiti things tend to break easily, especially so with the tents. With the ripped tents the rain doesn't keep out.

People whose tents were broken or damaged are moving in with friends in other tents cramming the tents even further.

People with money are rebuilding. This family's broken tent lies in front of this new tarp shelter that was built out of tarps and wood.

We walked through the St. Louis camp with some committee members. Everywhere we went were damaged or broken tents.

You can see the different stages of damage down this "street" of tents.

photos - storm - part 3

This man was fortunate to be able to build himself another tarp shelter made out of wood and tarps.

The sign on this tree says "Canada" with an arrow. This is the name of one of the sections in the St. Louis camp. The woman who is leaning against the water container probably wishes she could be in Canada.

People try to make a home out of their tents/tarps. This woman has a curtain hanging at her entrance door.

James Calixte is a friend of the children here at Coram Deo. He often comes here to Coram Deo to visit. This is his home. He lives in the Henfrasa refuge camp. The Henfrasa refuge camp is located on the grounds of a fitness center complex.

We know several families living in the Henfrasa camp. While we were there on Sunday everyone was asking for help. They all wanted me to take pictures of them in front of their homes.

photos - storm - part 4

The tarp shelters have a dirt floor. When it rains everything is wet. The children dread it because it means they can't lay on the floor to sleep. Families will usually sit together on a mattress that is propped off the ground and take turns sleeping.

This woman is a happy person despite her living conditions. She showed me where her home was and then laughed. She is determined to one day get out of the camp.

This man is an artist. He decorated his tarp shelter with some designs. On the right side of the shelter he has written "Life is Good"!

People have different types of home decorating styles in their shelters. This one is quite large. Inside the shelter this woman has a small tent on the left side and a large mattress beside it. She has a couple of chairs and even a hanging artificial plant to brighten up the shelter. Pray for all those who are trying to make a home in the camps.

Children are amazing. They continue to laugh and play despite their living conditions.