Wednesday, March 24, 2010

10 Weeks since the Haiti Earthquake

Hi Everyone,

I have continued getting regular updates from friends and coworkers still in Haiti. The struggle in Haiti is far from over... it doesn't end when the news cameras leave, just as it certainly didn't start when they got there. The challenges facing us were there before the earthquake as well.

I'd like to share this update verbatim as a general review of some of the work MAF has been doing there. If I had enough emotional energy or clarity of thought to include personal thoughts I would, but those are lacking at the moment. Please keep the Haitian people, the relief workers, and all those outside the country missing their home in your prayers. And please pray for me as well.

[--- Beginning of MAF update -----

On January 12th of this year, Haiti’s 7.0 earthquake devastated the capital city with the epicenter was just 16 miles west of Port-au-Prince. The quake’s devastation was the magnitude of the 2004 tsunami, but with very localized damage. Therefore, as you know, most of the deaths and destruction took place there in the capital.

Yet, as time has passed, we see now how many of the remote communities around Haiti are also affected. Not only were these villages dependent on Port-au-Prince for their food supplies, an estimated 1.5 million Haitian people were left homeless following the earthquake. Camps of the homeless have sprung up everywhere. Many Port-au-Prince victims who lost their homes went to stay with equally poor relatives living in remote towns. Where there once was a family of five in a home, there are now 20 people. Towns that had 5,000 people now have 20,000, but these towns don't have more provisions than they had for the 5,000.

Most Haitians eat only one meal a day. Food boxes that MAF is transporting to these outlying areas contain humanitarian ration MREs (meals ready to eat). These high-calorie meals typically consist of rice and beans, peanut butter and crackers, and fruit slices, all providing a person with a day's worth of nutrition and energy.

Challenges abound. Haiti is no longer daily front-page news, which means the public won't read about the ongoing misery that still needs millions of donor dollars toward rebuilding efforts. And everyday tragedies still hit. On March 1, a volunteer nurse from a U.S. Christian humanitarian ministry died of a heart attack. MAF helped arrange for his body to be flown back to the United States. Then, this was one report this month from our MAF worker there:

As I tried to recall so much of what has transpired this past week…I could think of flagging down some doctors from Miami hospital and then somewhat commandeering an airport security truck to transport them to the tarmac. Upon arrival of the Samaritan Air R44 helicopter I could see that the situation was terrible. There were three small babies and one of them had already gone to be with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As they tried to resuscitate this little one the other two struggled to hang onto life. Before the week was out yet another one of the triplets had joined its sibling in Heaven.

We are still flying our 5 small airplanes and the families of our pilots are still under temporary relocation for at least another couple of months. In the meantime, let’s not cease praying for Haiti and for God’s will to be done and His name to be praised.

I’ll leave you with a touching “thank you” note we received:


I am not sure if this e-mail will get to the people that I am intending it to but I am going to give it a try. I am an anethesiologists that practices in Southern California. I was asked to go on a missions trip to Haiti after the earthquake because they were very desparate [sic} for anethesiologists [sic]. When we went to Haiti the MAF was not flying and we had to drive from the Cap Haitian airport to Hinge. At the time I was happy that the MAF was not flying because I was deathly afraid of small airplanes. We did several surgeries and saw a lot of sad things. We left Hinge on Jan 27th and at that time the MAF was flying again. When the pilots landed to pick us up in Hinge and fly us to Cap Haitian I was overwhelmed with feelings. The first thing the pilots did was shake our hands and say to us," God bless you guys". I am a grown man but the spirit of God welled up so high in me that I felt like crying. Your pilots were so kind, professional, and filled with the holy spirit that I literally had no fears to fly in their plane.

I had a great time in Haiti helping the injured people and doing my best to spread the word of God. But, when people ask me what impacted my heart the most I tell them about how awesome the MAF team was. You have a great ministry and my God bless you.


Paul Phelps MD

---- End of MAF update -----]

Links to other groups I know still on the ground, doing what they do in Haiti:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

La Carpio 2.0

Last Friday was a landmark day in La Cueva de La Carpio! A year and a half after the computer lab was donated, the learning lab is now networked, connected to the internet, and climate controlled! This was a big step, opening a whole digital landscape of opportunities for the community. Friday we did a soft launch, and the room was full of teenagers late into the night as people opened their first e-mail addresses and started up facebook accounts. Antonio started us off with the first facebook status update from our newly uplinked computers. Jose eagerly sent me his first e-mail and started adding language student friends on facebook. Manolo and Roberto found Lalo's photo albums on Picasa and relived recent memories of soccer games and camp.

It was exciting to watch. A day of many firsts. But we discovered we were already on-line celebrities. For GOOD things! We found pictures of ourselves at camp, pictures of soccer victories, videos we'd created, programs we'd designed that were now shared with the world. A simple Google search will bring up lots of information about La Carpio... not all of it positive. But we were too busy seeing and reliving a bunch of fun memories to sift through all the "suceso" news reports. It was cool to see what our digital self-image had become... what our online identity was before our little computer lab ever crossed the digital divide. Our history was written on blogs and in Facebook photo albums of people who'd visited us. Our photos, videos, and programs we'd created in computer class preceded us on-line, and it was like opening a time capsule to relive those memories and open those projects again.

Our little computer lab can still be a place where we learn and create and explore new worlds. Some of us are at the point where we can probably administer the lab and repair the computers if they break. The rest of the community can use the computers now, too. In fact, we will probably be able to cover our operating costs and even put some money toward soccer camps.

Who knows where it will go from here! Things have changed a lot since these machines first got here a year and a half ago. We are thanking God for each new miracle along the way. Let's see where he takes us next.

Posted from el aula de La Carpio