It's been 6 months and a day since the earthquake. Here's a report I prepared after my recent visit to Port au Prince to assess the work that Ebenezer Clinic did.
Those who live in the north of Haiti (about a 250 km drive away) felt the earthquake as well. Although there was little physical damage, the damage was still felt here as many people lost loved ones in Port au Prince and we began to receive many Internally Displaced People (IDPs) as they migrated north to start a new life. Amidst this, Ebenezer Clinic in Haut Limbe began to look for a way that they too could respond to the needs of those affected by the earthquake. In the first two weeks following the quake, the clinic decided to provide free services to all of its patients, most of who had come from Port au Prince. In that period, the clinic saw approximately 2,000 patients. In addition, they began to look for ways to directly provide relief in Port au Prince. Through the generosity of donors like the Evangelical Covenant Church of Canada, Geneva Global, Mission of Mercy and numerous other Canadian and American individuals, Ebenezer Clinic created a strategy to adopt two communities in Port au Prince that had not yet received help.
Here is an excerpt of the journal of Janelle Peterson during 2 day trip to Port au Prince to observe the relief work of Ebenezer Clinic.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
I woke up at 4:30 this morning as we were supposed to leave at 5 to go to Port au Prince. We (5 clinic staff including a doctor, lab technician, and pharmacist plus myself) are going to do mobile clinics at two of the sites that Ebenezer Clinic helped after the earthquake that happened just 6 months and a day ago. None of us have visited the sites before and only a few of us have been to Port since the earthquake. 6 am rolls around and we finally load ourselves and the medication into the truck to begin the 250 km (or 6 hour drive) to Port au Prince.
It’s a long and bumpy ride. The National Road is in some dire need of maintenance – it doesn’t quite compare to Hwy #1 in Canada. The first 2 hours to Gonaives include ascending and descending two mountain passes (without guard rails), dodging pot holes every 50 ft and bumping along coarse gravel parts. There are 4 of us sitting in the backseat of the truck – which helps with holding you in place over the bumps, but after just two hours, my legs begin to turn numb.
We begin to approach Gonaives, which has suffered its own bout of destruction through hurricanes in the past few years. I can’t help but notice all of the signs that outside donors (NGO’s and governments) have posted along the road to show their projects. It’s discouraging to see because although the signs are posted there, any true sign of progress or development is not evident. I wonder if Port au Prince will look like that in two years.
Once we pass Gonaives and get close to Saint Marc, the road becomes much smoother and we can zip along at 60 mph. The condition of the road is a reminder to me of the disparity between the north (where I live) and the south (Port au Prince) in Haiti. As we approach the outskirts of Port, we begin to see the first tent cities set up in the open fields. For those in the truck who are coming to Port for the first time, they are overwhelmed by this sight. It’s hard to imagine that people fled the city and their crumbled homes to find refuge in an open field with only a couple tarps or sheets for shelter.
It’s soon getting dark, so we go to Max’s house where we will stay for the night. We set up two tents outside and after having much needed showers and eating one more time; we go to sleep because we have another big day ahead of us.
Monday, June 14, 2010
It’s another early morning. Everyone starts stirring shortly after 5 when we hear some roosters crowing nearby. We get ready for the day and eat some breakfast. Before we head into Port au Prince, we have a chance to watch some of the futbol game between Holland and Denmark. It’s the World Cup and almost everything in Haiti comes to a halt when a match is on.
Today we have two doctors who will be seeing patients. The local organizers, Organisation des Jeunes Progressists de la Ruelle Boisson, have set up a ticket system for patients and everything runs smoothly. I wander around the shelter that has beds and personal belongings set up to get a better view. On the other side of the court, I can peak out the tarps and see a view of the rolling hills of Port au Prince covered with dilapidated houses.
I take a seat near where the pharmacy has been set up to do some observation. I meet Emmanuel St. Brice, who is one of the local organizers with for the day and he is able to tell me about his experience during and since the earthquake.
Dr. Manno had visited the tent city for the first times shortly after the earthquake, but it wasn’t until March that Ebenezer Clinic was able to come down to provide some relief. In that first trip, they were able to do a mobile clinic as well as provide food packages to the people. By April, they were able to start building the more permanent shelter over the basketball court. These shelters helped address the issues of the wind, rain and intense sun that people had been exposed to before. They also provided a better sense of security to the people. They shelters are not completely finished as of yet, they hope to expand them even further.
“We want to say thank you to Ebenezer Clinic and all of the donors for all the things they have done for us. We hope to continue to work with you and find a way for us to be able to provide food and water to this community.” Emmanuel St. Brice