Jan. 15, 2011:
Another brief update as today was a travel day for Liz and the team. They crossed from Ile à Vache to Les Cayes to meet their driver around non. However, the driver did not show up and after a long wait they decided to go to an orthotics clinic that they knew there. The clinic staff gave them lunch and after phone calls the driver eventually showed up around 2:30. This meant that the drive would be partly done in the dark which is not good. While there were no problems the drive back to Port-au-Prince was just as bumpy and congested as the drive two days previous. The van in which they were traveling was in very bad shape and about a half hour into the ride the battery light blinked on and off. They thought the van was about to stop at any moment which was a bit scary as there is simply nowhere along the route that would be safe or practical to stop. However, all is well and they arrive around 8:30 and were busily writing up reports on the children they had seen. Tomorrow they will head up into the mountains to visit Wings of Hope.
Jan. 16, 2011:
Liz spoke in more detail about Ile à Vache. She said that she is heartened by the improvements there (the new dining hall and the beautiful new play structure), but a bit discouraged because none of the kids with disabilities are taken out to play, because of the lack of adults to take them. Sr. Flora needs more staff, but she says they are very hard to get because most Haitians do not want to be around people with disabilities. Liz points out how sad that is because the kids are very, very sweet and many of them have great potential. She said that the heat has been really tolerable this trip. Most days the high has been around 30 degrees and it goes down to the mid 20s at night.
Liz thinks the driving is worse than she remembers from previous trips. The streets are so busy, and the drivers go so fast. She is relieved that the long drives are over…they sure are uncomfortable. The smog is also worse this trip than it has been in her recent visits. There is lots of burning garbage again and garbage piled everywhere. It is really hard to breathe. On the good side, so, so much of the rubble has been cleared off the streets. Most of the leaning houses have been torn down, and while the rubble is certainly not all gone, it is much better than it was in March. The tent cities are, if anything, bigger, because people have moved in to get the clean water and medical services provided. There is very little rebuilding of homes, but there has been a fair bit of repair of structures that could be saved.
Today was a busy day as the team (about 8 members) went to Wings of Hope Orphanage. Their building was destroyed by the earthquake so the children are now living in temporary quarters that are almost impossible for disabled children because the building is very crowded, and has many levels, stairways and narrow door openings. They have a new building being planned and construction will begin at the end of February. Liz says that the new building is an interesting design with a “pod” plan so that they can house children of different ages and disabilities in different sections. As you may recall Wings is in the mountains and the old building had fabulous views. The new building will occupy the same site so they will continue to have beautiful views. The team saw a lot of children and adjusted their seating and need to go back tomorrow to finish. Liz will spend the morning at Notre Maison Orphanage and do some assessments and then in the PM go to Wings. The Board of Healing Hands International is currently meeting in Port au Prince so the guest house is full off lots of interesting people.
Jan. 18, 2011:
I think this will be the last update as Liz is due back tomorrow. However her flight has been slightly delayed. She is due here at midnight tomorrow. Here is her report e-mailed earlier tonight.
“After we had our van loaded to the rafters with hockey bags and suitcases, we got a call saying that the Air Canada flight had not been able to leave Montreal….so that means that we are here for another night. …. All is pretty quiet here, Duvalier-wise. He has spent the day at the Palais du Justice, being questioned. There is talk that he may be arrested and deported (and we now know that he was). Luckily all the men who typically get involved in protests are too young to know anything about him, so they aren’t upset, just curious, about what’s going on. We listen to the car radio a lot and it is ALL about Duvalier, but lots of conjecture and not much fact. We have a free-lance journalist from Norway staying at the guest house and he is trying to follow the story and fills us in at night. The staff are not upset…they don’t think he has enough influence now to cause trouble. Time will tell. I was out in the van a lot today and there was no sign of protest anywhere. So that’s it. We’re packed, reports are done, and we’ve stocked up on rum and coke for a night in the guest house. “