Saturday, January 30, 2010

Saturday Morning News

Sorry for the silence here. I guess I'm kind of like the news headlines - now you have to search websites to find news about Haiti, it no longer takes up the whole front page. The truth is, there isn't much new to report regarding the earthquake here.

It's been a somewhat normal week. The floods of emails and requests have subsided and I feel like I'm in control of them now. I've had some time in the afternoons to just relax, which has been nice. The banks have opened, so I was able to get some money. The clinic has been steady this week, which is good. We were also able to make some progress in organizing the supplies in the hospital and storage area so that the work teams who are coming will have somewhere to work.

Today will be a down day. At 11, I am going on a field trip with my Creole teacher to the market in Limbe - should be interesting.

In other big news, my good friend Shauna is arriving on Monday for an undetermined amount of time to help out with setting up financial systems at the clinic. I'm very excited to have her come and experience life with her here. 

Yep, that's all for now

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Two weeks later

It's been two weeks since the earthquake and we're still feeling aftershocks.

It's been two weeks and things are beginning to return to some kind of "normal" up here. 

It's been two weeks and I still haven't been to Cap Haitien. I can't imagine how overcrowded it is now.

It's been two weeks since we last had EDH - I'm not hopeful that I'll ever have it again in the time that I'm here.

It's been two weeks and many people do not know if their loved ones are still alive or if they are dead and buried.

It's been two weeks and the search and rescue effort has stopped.

It's been two weeks since Haiti first made the top story of every newscast.

It's been two weeks and I'm still learning how resilient and strong the Haitian people are - they put the rest of us to shame.

It's been two weeks since I sat in my Creole class and felt the earthquake - not knowing how much this would change the lives of everyone in this country.

It's been two weeks - how has your life changed?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Plugging along

I just want to say thank you to all of you that have emailed or messaged me in the past couple of weeks - I truly appreciate it and apologize if I haven't responded to you yet. Your support and encouragement means a lot to me and everyone here. My friends here often ask what people in Canada think about all this and I am able to tell them that you  are praying for Haiti and helping in anyway that you can.

We are still in planning stages for our response in Port au Prince. The clinic board will meet tomorrow to plan and discuss. Please be in prayer for all those involved in decision making here - that they would make wise decisions that will ultimately result in the best for this community and the rest of Haiti.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Letter from Dr. Manno

clinic Thursday morning

Written Wednesday night.

It’s 4 o’clock in the morning. Marcel, one of the clinic staff, couldn’t sleep and he decided to take a walk. Since his house is near the clinic, the walk took him to the clinic. To his surprise, there were already a few patients in the waiting area. He asked them why they had come so early as the clinic was going to open at 8 and consulting would start at 9. They answered that they wanted to make sure that they would be seen that day. At 8 o’clock, Marcel came to my home to ask me to start seeing patients at 8 as there were people who had been waiting for 4 hours.

This week the clinic board has decided to make its clinic services free so that all of the people coming from Port au Prince will have access to medical attention and money will not be an issue. Even people who have been sick for awhile are welcome to come.

One way or another, we are all victims. Even though I’m not in Port au Prince, I have people that I know from there who are currently staying at my house. Everyone will have extra expenses to deal with that were not in the budget. That is why we have decided to help people at the clinic.

From our experience of the past few days, we have realized the amount of people who have been sick in their homes because they could not afford to go to the clinic – some for many months. An older woman came in today whose blood sugar was at 450 and her blood pressure was 200/12. Since June she hasn’t been able to come to the clinic, because of money. A little girl, 9 years old with sickle cell whose hematocrite is 24% came. She has been home sick for more than a week and cannot walk because of the pain. Her condition will be with her for the rest of her life and she is in the list of patients that receives medical attention for free. When asked why she hadn’t come sooner, her mom answered that she couldn’t come because she couldn’t afford the transportation fees to the clinic.

I have heard stories this week of great courage. One woman who came into the clinic was in Port au Prince during the earthquake. As everything began to shake, she grabbed the 2 children closest to her, even though her children were in another room. She held on to these children for 15 hours before help came and saved them. Her own children had died in the next room.

We have realized that Ebenezer clinic is one of the cheapest clinics around. At the end of last year we were asking why the number of patients was going down. Today we found out with the free clinic that they hadn’t gone to a different clinic, but had stayed home suffering because they could not afford to come – the financial crisis has hit Haiti as well. Though Ebenezer clinic is cheap, it is not cheap enough.

At the end of the day, the person in charge of registration, told me that there are already 150 patients who came today that we couldn’t see and who will seen tomorrow. So we will need to start as early as we can.

In an act of faith, we have decided to open our gates to those who need help. We do not have the funds right now to sustain that. We are asking our partners to support us as much as they can - to pray for us. We are committed to help those who have come to the community from Port au Prince because they cannot stay in those conditions (no house, job, food), and we are also planning to go to Port au Prince next Friday to respond to the crisis there.

I’m 40 years old. A house in Haiti is a life project. You cannot get a mortgage in Haiti. People build a house to leave it for their children. They may not finish it in their lifetime. At 40 years old, I haven’t been able to raise enough money to complete my house – and I am a professional with a job. So many houses have been destroying in Port au Prince, so many broken dreams. These people are left with nothing and no hope for the future. This is the reality here.

So I have come to ask myself what is the most important thing in life. What is it that a hurricane, gunshot, violence, earthquake cannot take away?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


We had an "aftershock" this morning of 6.1 at about 6 this morning. I was laying in my bed - i'm not sure if that is what woke me up or if I was up before it. I must admit I was somewhat paralyzed - didn't think to get up and get outside. Thankfully, no damage here. We don't know what the result is near Port au Prince.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Catching Up

What day is it today? I'm not sure. The days are all running together.

Sunday, everyone gathered for church. It was the first time the community had been altogether. There was singing, prayers and stories shared. Even though I couldn't understand what was being said, there was no mistaking the feeling of the service.

Emails of support given are starting to come in. Thanks to everyone for your care and work to gather funds and supplies! What we need most urgently is money. Supplies will take awhile to get here as MFI (Missionary Flights International) is quite overwhelmed at this time.

We have not set a date for going to Port as of yet. We are currently looking through the boxes of supplies that arrived in the container just over a week ago for supplies that we can use - clothes, bandages, IV fluids, etc.

The population of Haut Limbe is growing as families bring relatives home from Port. Yesterday at the clinic fees were reduced to $1US for consults and prescriptions across the board. Patients were so relieved to hear that as many have spent a lot of money on transporting back and forth to Port. We will keep the fees reduced for the rest of the week and then reevaluate as this means the clinic will lose a significant amount of income.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Saturday, January 16, 2010

News Coverage

I just got back to the James' house after about and hour and a half of watching CNN and MSNBC at the neighbours. I was able to see tape of the 3 US presidents speaking - amazing. Hillary Clinton had just arrived and they kept saying that she would be speaking shortly, I really wanted to hear her but had to tear myself away for awhile.

While there, I was talking with Laurie (lifetime missionary here). Her son had just arrived back from Port au Prince last night after trying to find family. He reports of complete disorganization there, which is so frustrating. There is no coordinated effort. Unfortunately, aid agencies were waiting for direction from the Haitian government as to what the priorities are, which makes no sense to us. THE NEED IS NOW!! We cannot wait for direction from a government that was not functional before the quake, never mind now.

We both just threw our hands in the air asking, "Is anybody listening? Does anybody understand?". Only those who have been here before can truly understand how devastating this is. A city is destroyed. There is no future for anyone there. Where will they go if they do indeed survive until food and water arrive? Thousands of children have lost there parents. Any paperwork that was being done to place orphans before the quake is now lost. Where will these children go?

I know that watching the coverage is hard. But please watch it so that you may begin to understand the severity of this situation. Please.

Sinking in

I had meant to write this yesterday, but just didn't have the head space to do it.

Wednesday night, I saw one of my good friends for the first time since early Tuesday. Turns out he had been one of the people to go with the clinic truck to Port au Prince on Tuesday night - I had no idea that he had gone. He wasn't able to say much of what he saw... bodies everywhere, buildings destroyed, schools collapsed with children inside. At that point on Wednesday he hadn't slept since Monday night. He had tried to, but couldn't get the pictures of what he saw out of his head. Yesterday when I saw him, he said the night before wasn't much better.

Yesterday morning I saw another one of my good friends for the first time. He has an uncle and cousins in Port au Prince and since there is no way to communicate and they cannot go to find them - they are assuming they are dead.

Dr. Manno returned from Port au Prince at 2 Friday morning. They were not able to rescue the person they were looking for - they did not have the equipment to move the rubble. Manno was pretty sure they were already dead. While there, Manno did a quick assessment of where Ebenezer Clinic could possibly help. What he saw was that so far aid and help has been going to the wealthy communities, not to the poor. He found a poor area where he believes the clinic can begin to help. Please see the letter I posted yesterday for more info.

The mood in Haut Limbe yesterday was noticeably different. The reality of what has happened is beginning to sink in here as people hear eyewitness reports of the state of Port au Prince. Please pray for all those who have seen with their own eyes - that they may have some sort of peace and rest. Pray for comfort for the families who have lost loved ones. Pray for the safety of all those going to Port au Prince to give aid. Dr. Steve James and a group from the community are currently there and are trying to make their way through a traffic jam to a clinic. They have a satellite phone, so we have been able to receive some communication with them. Pray for Dr. Manno and the staff of the clinic as we begin to make a plan and gather supplies to respond.

Friday, January 15, 2010

5 Seconds

Here's a letter that we just sent out from Dr. Manno,
Usually we think of 5 seconds as nothing. If we ask people to wait for 5 seconds, we don’t feel guilty. Talking to the victims of the earthquake in Port au Prince will make you realize how 5 seconds can drastically change the course of one person’s life, a city, or even a nation. This is the reality of Port au Prince.

On Wednesday night, I couldn’t sleep. I don’t think it was because I was afraid of sleeping under a concrete roof, because we did not see any damage here. But for the whole night, I couldn’t sleep. Early in the morning a group of people came to my door asking me to let them use the clinic truck to go help someone that was trapped under rubble in Port au Prince. And since no other driver was available, I decided as a doctor I would be more helpful to go and help in case they were able to get him out because the last message of the president of the nation was a call for all doctors to come and help. I also thought this would be an opportunity to do an assessment of what really happened since communication is down and most information that we have received is by word of mouth.

As I was getting into Port au Prince I started to realize that I was getting into a war zone, as I have seen in movies. There were lots of buildings collapsed, turned into sandwiches. Hundreds of people were on the street, a few vehicles and on every corner a pile of dead bodies (at least 10). As we got further into the city, we discovered hundreds of tent cities. People were turning their sheets into tents so that they can sleep under it – those that were actually able to save something from their house. There is no way that I can put into words what this disaster has added to the misery that people were already suffering.

The first question that you ask is, how can I help? How can I make a change? How can I bring a smile back to their faces? When you look at the disaster you are angry as you ask why did it happen to these people who have nothing? Why do they have to suffer that much? When it’s not political unrest, it’s the corruption of the government leaders or bad weather like hurricanes and now a strong earthquake. Why? The truth is, you realize that there is no way that you can make a huge difference. There is no way that you can bring the lives back of the dead... so many moms without their babies, so many men without their wives, so many kids without their parents.

From what I saw, life will no longer be the same in Port au Prince because Port au Prince as a city no longer exists. Most of the schools have collapsed with students inside. Churches collapsed with people inside. People are afraid to be inside of any buildings as 80% of buildings have at least some degree of damage.

Our clinic wants to send a team of volunteers. Our goal is to help at least 700 to 800 people that are staying in a yard in a slum of Port au Prince. We want to give those people much needed help. On our first trip we want to provide them with real tents, water filters, protein supplements (which we already have), clothes, medicines and spiritual support. The only thing we have available right now is the protein supplement, so we need money to buy medicines, food, water, diesel fuel, etc.

If you want to be part of the mission, you can send your donations to the Evangelical Covenant Church of Canada online designated to Haiti Earthquake relief or mail cheques to:

Evangelical Covenant Church of Canada
PO Box 34025, RPO Fort Richmond
Winnipeg, MB R3T 5T5

You can also send items such as clothing, sheets, medicines, etc.
Please send an email for more information on how to mail to let us know what you have sent so we know what to expect to

All funds given through ECCC to Haiti Earthquake will be used directly for relief in Port au Prince.

Janelle Peterson will be coordinating communications from Haiti and can be reached at this email address

Thank you for your partnership. Please continue to pray for us and with us through this devastating time.


Dr. Emmanuel Mareus

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Where I am

I just thought I should give you an idea of where I am in relation to Port-au-Prince. I'm in the community of Haut-Limbe, about 25 kms west of Cap Haitien in the north. I believe we're about a 250 km drive from Port-au-Prince.

Check out this map.

The day after the day after

It's probably more frustrating being in the country right now rather than back in Canada. Digicel phones are still not working so there is no communication. We haven't had any EDH (electricity) so we are relying on generators and batteries. Diesel prices are already rising and will continue to rise as resources dwindle (it all comes from Port).

The 3 clinic staff who went to Port right after the quake have returned with the person they were looking for. I'm not sure if he was injured or not. Dr. Manno left for Port this morning to find another person from the community that they were unable to find.

As far as we know, the airport in Cap Haitien is operational and the team of 4 Americans that were supposed to leave on Monday will be flying back to Florida this morning. Dr. Steve and Nancy are also scheduled to return from the States this morning.

The past day and a half have been surreal. At 5 on Tuesday, I had just started my Creole class with my tutor. The building started to shake and my first though was that a big truck or train was going by. That's what it sounded like anyways. Then I remembered where I was and that there were no big trucks or trains to go by and that it was an earthquake. The desks in the classroom didn't move, but we just kind of rocked back and forth for about 10 or 15 seconds. It ended and we resumed our class. A few minutes later, someone told us that it was worse in Port au Prince, but we had no idea of how bad.

I finished my class, went home to eat supper. Surprisingly, the EDH came on so I decided to watch a movie on my laptop because I did not want to go out in the rain again. That last for about an hour, then the power went out so I shut off my computer and tried to go to sleep. Around 9, Dr. Manno came up and told me that Port au Prince was destroyed. He said to "sleep" with the doors open so that I could get out quickly. He then said he was going over to the University to watch the news. I decided to go with him. Once there, I was able to call my family on a satellite phone to reassure them that I was okay. The cellphone network was down.

We watched the news for awhile - there were only a few images coming in cause it happened so close sundown. We returned home and decided not to sleep in the main house under the concrete roof. Instead, we all (about 12 of us) moved mattresses to a room in the house that is being built behind the main house that has a corrugated metal roof. It was like a big slumber party - girls on one side, guys on the other - only I couldn't understand all the Creole chatter.

I slept on and off through the night with my MP3 player going to drown out the sound of the rain on the metal roof. We woke up around 7, moved everything inside and started our day. There had been several aftershocks during the night.

As soon as I had showered (a very cold shower) and eaten breakfast I headed over to the James' to get online and check emails, Facebook and just try to get some news coverage.  There were tons of messages to reply to and I was able to Skype with friends and family at home.

I pulled myself away from the computer later in the afternoon in order to do my Creole homework and go to class. After supper, we went to watch the news again. I'm kind of glad that I don't have access to CNN all day. I think the reporters would drive me crazy. It's amazing how ignorant people are of the realities of Haiti, pre-earthquake. I just wonder how long the attention will last on this country - probably not long enough, I fear. After the recovery effort is finished, reconstruction is going to take years.

It was a weird day here. Life just kind of went on for most people. Most people don't have a radio so they haven't heard any news. They definitely haven't seen any of the pictures and they haven't been able to communicate by phone. Everyone is sad, but I don't know if anyone can really comprehend just how bad it really is. I think it will take several days, weeks even to know what this all means.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How to help

When things are "good" in Haiti, life involves a lot of waiting. So when things are not so good, it involves even more waiting. I've spent the day over at the James' glued to the internet checking email, facebook, news sites trying to get a grasp of what is going on. I can't get much info from within the country. I do know that 3 of the clinic staff are driving down to Port Au Prince right now to find one of their sons - he is studying there and the house he was staying in collapsed. As far as we know, he is okay.

I don't feel of much help here right now, but if you want to help, many organizations are receiving donations for their relief efforts. Check out World Relief Canada, Mennonite Central Committee, or if you are in the States, Covenant World Relief.

The Evangelical Covenant Church website has also posted a story about CWR's response.

Covenant World Relief Aiding Haiti Earthquake Victims

CHICAGO, IL (January 13, 2010) – Covenant World Relief (CWR) funds already are at work in Haiti providing assistance following Tuesday’s 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated large areas within the country and claimed thousands of lives.

The earthquake destroyed most of the capital city of Port-au-Prince, Haitian authorities told CNN News this morning. The Red Cross estimates some three million people - one-third of Haiti's population - were affected by the quake. “Rescue crews were racing Wednesday morning to fully assess the damage in the teeming hillside city, where toppled buildings killed and injured an untold number of people and trapped others in the rubble,” the CNN report states.

The CWR emergency funds, which are being used to provide emergency relief kits, come from a "first responder" disaster fund established by the Covenant with World Relief International, which is distributing the kits.

Building“The immediate task is to get emergency kits together and dispersed,” says Husby. “The kits will include food, water, and blankets.”

Click here to make an online donation to the Covenant Haiti Relief Fund.

World Relief International is doing its best to gather information about the severity of the situation, that effort complicated by the destruction of much of the country’s communications infrastructure, says CWR Director David Husby. Not all of World Relief International’s staff in Haiti has been accounted for. A disaster response team will be traveling Thursday to either Port-au-Prince, if the airport is open, or to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic to better assess the needs.

The damaging effects of the earthquake are even more significant due to poor construction of buildings in Haiti, which is considered to be the poorest country in the western Hemisphere.

Haiti's worst quake in two centuries hit south of the capital Port-au-Prince, leaving thousands of people feared dead and large portions of the population left homeless. Major government buildings also were demolished or heavily damaged.

Tammi Biggs, a short-term Covenant missionary who serves as Area Director for the Caribbean with Covenant Merge Ministries, lives in the neighboring Dominican Republic. In a Twitter update, she reports she is safe, although her area has felt several aftershocks.

Sandy Doyle, who directs the Haiti mission work of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Lafayette in Lafayette, Indiana, says she has not heard directly from people in the village of LaMare, a village that the Indiana church supports. However, a missionary with another organization, speaking to CNN via Skype, said people in the Central Plateau, where LaMare is located, are safe. Click here to read a previously published story about the Indiana church's Haiti mission work.
And yet another Covenanter from Faith Covenant Church in Winnipeg, MB, emailed family and friends from Haiti to report that she, too, is safe. “Just writing you a quick note to let you know that I am okay,” writes Janelle Peterson. “We felt the quake here and have felt several aftershocks since. As far as I know there is no real damage in this area. We are just now starting to learn the full extent of the damage and the effects of the quake in Port au Prince. Communication is down, so people are having a hard time finding out if family and friends are okay in Port au Prince. Please pray for everyone here as we start figure out what our next steps are here and for those beginning relief efforts.” Peterson also is posting updates to her blog.
For additional information, visit the CWR Facebook page, the Merge Ministries Twitter account, or the World Relief Twitter page. Information is also available on the U.S. State Department’s website.

Copyright © 2010 The Evangelical Covenant Church.


Just writing you a quick note to let you know that I am okay. We felt the quake here and have felt several aftershocks since. As far as I know there is no real damage in this area. We are just now starting to learn the full extent of the damage and the effects of the quake in Port au Prince. Communication is down so people are having a hard time finding out if family and friends are okay in Port au Prince. Please pray for everyone here as we start figure out what our next steps are here and for those beginning relief efforts here.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Good News!

Two items of good news today. It stopped raining and... the contents of the container were released!!! Very exciting. It took 2 days and 4 truckloads and all (I hope) of the contents are safely locked in the hospital. Only downside... customs had to rip every box open for inspection and of course they didn't neatly tape them up again, so we have a bit of a mess. But at least we can deal with that mess here.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Still Raining

It stopped for about 5 hours the other day when the sun came out, but it's been cloudy and rainy ever since. Argh!

In other news. I drove for the first time here yesterday... only a little ways, on the "good" road. I decided that driving through swimming pools in CapHaitien would not be a good first experience. It went fairly well. The reason that I have held off so long is that I'm not super comfortable driving a standard (that's all they have here) and there are so many things to pay attention to here - cars, trucks, tap taps, buses, semi's, motorcycles, people, potholes, goats, cows, chickens - all going wherever they please on the road. Once I can just focus on watching the road, and not worrying about shifting, things will go a lot better!

The container is still in Cap Haitien... we are hoping to hear the final amount ($) that it will take to get the contents released any day now. Oh happy day when that is over. Then the work of transporting and organizing begins!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

Now, I don't want to complain too much, as I know many of you have been enduring -30 degree weather, but I just have to say that I do not like the rain here. I don't mind a short shower at the end of a hot day - that's refreshing. No, I'm talking about the kind of rain that last for 3 days. Why don't I like it? Well for starters, everyone stays home! The streets are empty - you can't find anyone! And if you can't get a cell phone signal, you really can't find anyone. Secondly, if there is no power, (like now) well, there's just nothing to do. And lastly, well, it's kinda cold and nothing seems to dry (i.e. my towels from this morning's shower) - kinda reminds me of the 3 winters I spent in Langley, BC. Yep, I don't like it. I will begin praying for sunshine right now!