Bad News, Good News, and Hope

There is bad news for the Haitian people, and anyone wanting to go there and help them. You may have read in the news that gangs are taking power. The Haitian government and National Police are not able to stop them, so the deterioration of civic order is accelerating. The US government today advised Americans to leave the country while commercial flights are still available.

The good news is that we raised over $30,000 for earthquake relief through Haiti Ap Grandi. We distributed just under half of those funds for the critical needs of people in the Pestel area near Jeremie on the northern coast of the peninsula, north of Les Anglais. There are no water wells there (no water table to tap into), so they used concrete cisterns to store rainwater and spring water. All the cisterns in the area cracked and leaked out their water due to the earthquake this summer. Etienne and his team purchased a large number of plastic water tanks (called “chatados”) to distribute to the people so they can store water. This will help these families with their basic needs for drinking water! It is so important to life. The remaining relief funds will be spent as soon as supplies, fuel, and manpower become available.

Some of the chatados for storing clean water

Etienne and helpers fueling his truck

Etienne and his team are also in the middle of planting coffee and cocoa plants in new areas for erosion control and cash generation for the farmers. They are having a very hard time getting the gas and diesel they need to do transportation for all these far-ranging projects. They are having to pay huge premiums for fuel when and if they can find it. Their work is so important right now. The country is in a bad state and their work continues to provide hope as well as tangible assistance.

Life there has returned to semi normal in the Les Anglais area after the earthquake. Most buildings withstood the tremors and we sent food and COVID masks to them immediately following the disaster. Several of the wells that we maintain need repair. We have relief funds available for this purpose, but we aren’t sure when the well repair folks can get to them. Like everyone else in Haiti now, they have a very hard time getting fuel and their schedule is filled with the many wells all over the SW arm of Haiti that need service. The mountain village of Boco is still inaccessible after the earthquake and landslides, so it will be some time before we can get their well fixed.

— adapted from a report by Jim Shaw

New Photos from Etienne

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Etienne shared these photos with us, showing some of his activities over the last few days.

below: Today Etienne addressed government and community leaders regarding water needs.

Etienne in conference room with leaders
Helicopter pilot with injured woman

left: Helicopter pilot waits with a patient who was flown to the Cayes hospital. She suffered broken bones in the earthquake and had to wait weeks for transport and treatment.

below: The town of Charlette is currently only accessible by helicopter. Etienne, center right in tan shirt, met with the people there to organize a medical clinic.

Etienne organizing a medical clinic in Charlette, a town now accessible only by helicopter

Earthquake Relief Priorities and Donation Matching

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The Haiti Ap Grandi directors and Etienne agree that the immediate priorities for funding and action are 1) clean water, 2) food, and 3) shelter. Etienne proposed buying twenty 800-gallon water tanks to place in communities currently without a source of clean water. The cost to purchase and deliver each tank is approximately $1000. This will allow water trucks to deliver water in bulk and for the community to efficiently distribute water to residents. We also plan to repair the damaged wells in Les Anglais and the surrounding area as quickly as this can be arranged.

To get clean water to the people as quickly as possible, an anonymous couple has pledged up to $10,000 to match all earthquake relief donations to Haiti Ap Grandi from August 14 through September 30, 2021. If you wish to help and have your contribution matched, click the Donate button on this page and select “Earthquake Relief”. Note that our name change from “Compassion for Haiti” to “Haiti Ap Grandi” hasn’t happened at Paypal yet, but donations made there are being delivered to us with no interruptions.

Etienne and his brother Nobert have been meeting with government representatives in Port au Price, Les Cayes, and Jeremie to persuade them to distribute water, food, and supplies for shelter. Etienne is struggling to feed and house the overflow crowd staying at his home after their houses became uninhabitable. He is still rescuing the injured and taking them to hospitals, while setting up for his team’s next actions. He asks for our prayers.

Haiti Ap Grandi in the News

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The Lake Oswego Review newspaper published an article on August 31 about the earthquake aftermath and relief efforts based on an interview with Jim Shaw, one of our Directors. It describes how Haiti Ap Grandi, two churches in the Lake Oswego area, Reciprocal Ministries International, and Etienne’s Passion for Haiti organization are working together to address the critical needs of the earthquake victims. Here’s the link to the article. Subscribers can read the article for free. Others can create an account to view content. I clicked the $5 month option, but after giving my email address creating a password, I was allowed to read this one article for free.

Earthquake Update 8/22/21

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This information was relayed to Jim by Etienne in a phone call on Aug 24.

Etienne is traveling all over helping wherever he is needed. Working yesterday with an organization that has a helicopter, they rescued 23 injured people from a mountain village on Pik Macaya*, the second-highest mountain in Haiti. 18 other people from the village perished from injuries and lack of food and water. Between the earthquake, torrential rains, and aftershocks, there have been many landslides and they continue to occur.

helicopter prepares to evacuate injured from Pik Macaya
Helicopter preparing to go to Pik Macaya to rescue injured people. Fed Dani, Etienne’s son interpreted for the group. He is on the right.

Today Etienne is in Les Anglais where 25 people were killed, 20 in the collapse of the Catholic church’s steeple. The Baptist church is in pretty good shape, with some cracking, especially in the pastors’ residence. The pastor and his wife have been sleeping in one of the school buildings (rebuilt after Hurricane Matthew and presumed to be stronger than the older building they usually live in) because of the aftershocks.

In Bwa Picon, a very remote village on a steep slope where Etienne and his agents and students have done prior work installing new roofs after the hurricane, most of the crops were lost in the rain and landslides. Many of the homes still stand, but the people lack food.

15 people died in Chardonnieres, bringing the total deaths counted so far in the seven communities at the center of our work to about 40 or 50. Les Anglais is the largest of them, but has very few structures higher than one story. That is why fewer people were killed by collapsing buildings in this area than in cities like Les Cayes.

Truck stopped at boulder on way to Jeremie
Etienne’s truck on the way to Jeremie

Earlier, Etienne went to the northern coast of Haiti’s southwest arm to help evacuate people from Pestel to Jeremie. The roads were wiped out by a landslide so people making the trek had to walk single-file over treacherous terrain. The photo in our August 17th post, with Etienne carrying a man with a broken leg, was taken on this journey.

The well in Boco and the recently-rebuilt Lagoon well that serves the community on the SW edge of Les Anglais are both gone.

The Haiti Ap Grandi Board of Directors is prioritizing safe water and food for immediate relief funding as soon as possible. We are immensely grateful to all who have donated to Haiti Ap Grandi for this first wave of assistance and for the massive relief and recovery needs that we will support. We recently sent funds to cover the salaries of Etienne’s agronomy agents for the rest of this year. They are helping with relief efforts now and will play a big role in helping farmers to get new crops into the ground and reestablish their livestock herds. The mask-collection project that began prior to the earthquake is nearly finished. 1300 masks have already been sent and 640 more will be on their way this week to try to decrease the spread of Covid among people crowded together as a result of the earthquake.

Truckload of people evacuated from Pic Macaya
Truckload of people evacuated from Pic Macaya

* Pik Macaya (from Pic Macaya National Park (French: Parc National Pic Macaya) is one of two national parks of the Republic of Haiti. It is located in the country’s southern peninsula, within the Massif de la Hotte. Featuring the country’s last stand of virgin cloud forest, it encompasses more than 8,000 hectares. Elevations in the rugged park reach a maximum height of 2,347 meters (7,700 feet) above sea level at Pic Macaya (Macaya Peak), the second highest point in Haiti behind Pic la Selle. A majority of the park is composed of two tall peaks: Pic Macaya and Pic Formon.

Earthquake Update 8/17/2021

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Excerpts from Reciprocal Ministries International’s Facebook Page:

The destruction is widespread on the entire southern peninsula. No community was spared clear out to the farthest tip of the island. There are many landslides across the road that leads into the mountains to go to the other coast as well as the main road that leads west to that area of Haiti. Bridges are damaged and many are impassable. In Cayes and Jeremie most, if not all, stores and businesses have been heavily damaged or destroyed. In general, the infrastructure that southern Haiti had is badly damaged and severely crippled.

Benjamin observed that “It was the grace of God that it happened at the right time…people were up and out of their houses, schools were not in session and churches were not meeting”. And it is true, had it happened at another time or day, schools and churches would have been full and the death toll would have been drastically higher. In the midst of the indescribable destruction, something to be thankful for.

There have been regular, strong aftershocks. As you can imagine, the people are traumatized and nerves are frayed. They are afraid to go inside concrete structures. They are sleeping in their yards or out in open areas.  Tropical storm Grace is right over the entire peninsula now, creating more heartache. Where are they to go in the rain? Mudslides will be a very real possibility, especially in areas where the earth is already softened by the earthquake. Getting supplies from Port-au-prince has been severely impeded by gangs that control areas of the town and road that leads south. NGOs and government officials have negotiated a one-week truce with them to let supplies, containers, and personnel through. Pray as a convoy of containers and other vehicles will be going through that area in the coming days. RMI has 3 containers of food that will be a part of that convoy. It is needed now more than ever!