When the 7.2 earthquake struck the Tiburon Peninsula (SW Haiti), it killed at least 2,200 people and injured more than 12,000 more. More than 500,000 people have been affected and the damage is catastrophic: more than 50,000 homes were destroyed, along with schools, churches, and health clinics.
In the aftermath many organizations have been providing aid and assistance, especially organizations with extensive experience in disaster relief and recovery. With all Rayjon-supported activities being located outside of the affected region, and with little capacity or expertise in disaster relief, we decided that our primary role would be to bring awareness to the situation, and to share with the Canadian public more about how they might help.
Rayjon immediately circulated a list of organizations working in SW Haiti with whom we have strong connections, and whom we know the public can trust to use donations quickly and effectively.
At the same time, our senior staff in St. Marc shared with us their own concerns.
Mr. Renaud Thomas, who is Manager & Community Coordinator in St. Marc, overseeing all Rayjon-supported programs, and many of his colleagues and friends, felt strongly that they needed to help their fellow Haitian brothers and sisters in the Les Cayes region. Renaud requested support to assemble a multi-disciplinary team of professionals to travel to Les Cayes and work with two of the organizations there providing direct assistance, as volunteers. We were proud to support this valiant effort, by giving Renaud leave from his duties in St. Marc, and providing a small initial contribution of $1,000 to cover some of the logistics and supplies needed to get started.
Upon arriving in Les Cayes, the team learned quickly that most relief efforts were being concentrated in the urban areas most hard-hit. Vulnerable families in the rural, harder to reach areas were being almost completely neglected and were suffering immensely. Skin infections from earthquake related injuries were going untreated. Homes were destroyed and villagers were sleeping in the elements (with a hurricane on the way), with serious risk of landslide. No assistance was coming from the NGOs centred on relief in the urban zones. And so Renaud and his team decided to concentrate their efforts to assist as many rural villagers as possible. Renaud quickly gained support from two other NGOs, securing additional funding. The following pictures show the team of doctors, nurses, agronomists and skilled labourers assisting with the two most urgent needs: shelter and emergency health care.
A mother and her 7 children were living here before the team arrived. They now have a temporary home.
Families wait their turn to be see by a doctor at a makeshift medical clinic in rural Les Cayes.
Renaud & his team of volunteers get to work building temporary, but safe and strong, shelters for displaced families.
The team was so successful that Rayjon has promised to send $5,000 in additional support to support the construction of additional housing for displaced rural families, and ongoing health care (there is a huge need for medicines, first aid supplies, and general medical care) in the coming weeks. Recovery will be slow, but generous donations in Canada are helping families in Haiti to slowly rebuild.