While the worst of Matthew’s storm potential has passed Haiti, the worst effects of the storm are still unknown as rescue workers are not yet able to get to the areas hardest hit–areas without the infrastructure and resources they need to endure the storm. Nor its aftereffects–such as mudslides, contaminated water, and homelessness.
UPDATE 8:00 PM:
We’re left with a drizzle. Winds have died down and it seems to have passed. Inside, we’ve kept busy doing yoga, dancing, singing, drawing, making bracelets, doing puzzles, reading, and playing various games. The kids have enjoyed this hurricane a little more than they should have. We’ve had a number of discussions about how lucky we are and how thankful we are for our shelter.
We had an easy day compared to others, but the rain has now picked up. Thunder rolls in over the mountains and we can see that while the worst of the storm may have passed, rain will continue for days. I’m getting reports that thousands of homes were washed away and friends in the mountains have had their roofs ripped off. Fallen trees have divided homes and many streets are flooded.
UPDATE as of 4:00 PM:
They are safe. There is ome tree damage, lots of water, but nothing terrible. Electricity is on and off, which was expected. Nannies have stayed home so the kids are with two volunteers who live and teach at the mission. Although they outnumber the adults more than usual, the kids are being great, staying inside, and at their best behavior. We are glad and grateful to have clean water to drink for now, as that will be a big issue going forward for Haiti.
Clean drinking water is an issue in Haiti on the driest of days. According the Center for Human Rights, nearly 70% of the population does not have access to potable water. A functional, nation-wide sewage and plumbing system is practically non-existent. Contaminated water leads directly to waterborne illnesses, which account for more than half of the deaths every year and high infant mortality rates. We saw this firsthand in the cholera epidemic that struck Haiti shortly after the earthquake in 2010.
We have been working for the last five years to upgrade the facilities to include weather-resistant structures for dorms and the school, and built sanitary toilets and showers. The improvement in their health from 2010 to now is incredible.
You can help by supporting the mission or sponsoring a child.
UPDATE AS OF 11.A.M.: Everyone made it through the night safely. Things are OK so far, though the storm has really picked up this morning. The campus is in a pretty good area. It’s not on a hill (where there are landslides), not too close to the ocean and not in a low lying area (where there is flooding). Most of the buildings surrounding us are fairly solid (of what was left after earthquake).
UPDATE FROM HAVE FAITH HAITI MONDAY EVENING:
The wind is picking up and it’s looking more eerie by the minute. Still not much rain for us but reports are showing flooding in the south. In the mean time, were doing our normal Monday cooking night (Fusilli with raw tomato sauce.) Battling on and off power means sautéing with a head lamp on.
Hurricanes are fickle. They can change course quickly, for the better or the worse. Current weather reports predict that Hurricane Matthew will be striking Haiti today. For those concerned about the Have Faith Haiti Mission, please note the following update from Gina Wymore, who lives and teaches at the mission, as well as some background about how the Mission prepares for hurricanes:
All is well here. The kids were still singing and playing outside as usual this weekend.
Maintaining normalcy and projecting a sense of control and calm is very important. The noise from the wind in a storm like this can be extremely loud and it could scare the kids. Caretakers will play music on battery-operated CD players and have the kids sing and dance to drown out the noise. We also have games, activities, books, etc, ready. This is a good time for an adult to read aloud, as it will use only one flashlight, and the kids love to hear a good story.
We have prepared for the worst. We have stocked up on water and food along with the core necessities. We have canceled school for the next two days in preparation of heavy flooding and mudslides. I fear for our teachers, nannies, and neighbors who live outside our walls in poorer conditions. We have taken every precaution to ensure our safety here.
The Mission brings everything it can inside, and ties down whatever must remain outside, to eliminate as much injury-causing debris as possible. We don’t go outside. High winds will be blowing things around. Even if we prepare, neighboring properties may not, and debris will be flying. More than a week’s supply of food, water, medicine, first aid are stocked and secured.
Only time will tell. We’re expecting wind and rain to pick up Monday afternoon throughout Wednesday. Seeing as there is an incredibly poor to nonexistent drainage system in the city, flooding could paralyze the neighborhood for days to weeks after the storm passes. The last time Haiti saw a storm of this magnitude was 1980. Few locals are aware of the impending dangers and those who are have no idea of how to adequately prepare.
While our thoughts and prayers are with all of Haiti, especially those who do not have the ability to adequately prepare for the storm, our priority at the Mission is to ensure the safety and well-being of our students.They need to feel that they are in good hands and someone will take care of them. If they are scared, we acknowledge that it is normal to be scared in a big storm and we stress that we are well-prepared. We just have to wait until the storm passes. It will. All storms pass.
We hope to receive further updates for as long as Internet and phone reception remains.
Please keep all of Haiti in your thoughts and prayers.
Important phone numbers in Haiti:
Yesterday, three adult supervisors took 11 students from Have Faith Haiti that had earned the privilege to shop to a local store. Each received $20.00 ($5.00 of each donation purchased paper, pencils, pens, crayons and other needed supplies for the whole group. They received their $20 in 4-$5.00 bills and instructions to first purchase a backpack and use the remaining money for personal school supplies or items for other children at the mission.
Due to political and safety issues in Haiti, we are not able to take all the kids out at once. The 11 students selected had received most improved and best behaved for the entire year. We purchased backpacks and supplies for the remaining children, who will shop from the Mission “store” with the same budget and instructions. Lessons taught from supply shopping were about money, respect, being courteous, figuring how much everything cost and when it is on sale.
The kids did great and averaged $15.00 per child. They have asked if they could give away the money left over or use it to buy more school supplies for other kids.
All of this is possible through your generous donations.