SOIL Earthquake Response
I am writing to you tonight with a heavy heart. In one night our world changed in Haiti. When the earthquake struck I was at the SOIL house in Cap Haitien with a group of students from the University of Miami, Florida International University and Notre Dame. We were incredibly lucky in Cap-Haitien and although the whole city shook, there was no major damage.
As soon as the phones went dead I began to worry about Port-au-Prince. One of the students had a blackberry and we were able to get the news that the earthquake was very serious and centered around the capital. With no means of communication in the SOIL house, we walked through the streets in the rain to visit several radio stations to see if they had any information finally ending up at the house of AIDG (www.aidg.org), a partner organization of ours run by our dear friends Cat and Pete. It was then that the news really began to set in for us as we watched the pictures on CNN and began to receive reports over the internet.
The first night was the scariest with no news out of Port au Prince. Few people in the country slept well that night, everyone running through the list of friends and loved ones who may be buried beneath the rubble. On the second day we began to receive reports through the sporadic internet and telephone service, there were tears of relief and a collective grief that fell as raindrops, flooding the streets of Cap Haitien. We are so thankful to be able to say that no one from our organization was injured in the earthquake and we have been able to contact many of our friends in Port au Prince.
Although there was no serious structural damage in Cap Haitien we are now beginnign to expreiece the seocondary effects of the disaster as injured people and families made homeless begin to flow out of Port au Prince. Power has been out in Cap Haitien for the past day and gas stations are closing tomorrow due to shortages. Banks have been closed indefinitely blocking most financial aid coming into the country.
I was so honored to have an incredible group of students this year and their compassion and humor really helped to keep me calm in the days following the quake. The students left on Thursday and the SOIL and SOL teams immediately began preparing to shift our activities to help with the crisis in any way we could. We have decided to begin by partnering with other organizations on the ground, primarily AIDG, to help transport supplies and people between Port au Prince and Cap Haitien.
We will be leaving for Port au Prince tomorrow morning at 5 am with a team of 6 (myself, Bobo, Marcorel, Wisnel, Cat (AIDG) and Ti Paul) and a truckload of water, tools, T-shirts and medicines. Once we get there we will have a much better sense of the ways in which we can assist, from translation to coordination of volunteers to transportation. I will try my best to provide updates on our work and the general situation on my blog at www.oursoil.org, when we are able to access the internet.
The only thing that we can predict about what we will see is that it will break our hearts. To see the once familiar buildings and streets reduced to rubble and the tremendous suffering will surely bring us to our knees. But with your love and support we will keep standing back up. I also know that though the heartache will come moments of inspiration and solidarity. It has already begun to happen. People from all walks of life have started to come together in response to the tragedy and the outpouring of love and support from our friends in the US has been absolutely overwhelming. We are so grateful to all of you who have held Haiti in your hearts and prayers this week and we hope that you will continue to hold her in your heart long after this crisis has passed, the world has kept Haiti in the shadows for too long.
Many of you have asked how you can help in this moment of need and we are so thankful for your compassion and generosity, it is your support and the courage of our Haitian friends and colleagues that gives us the strength we need to keep going. SOIL has decided to devote 100% of all donations that come in the next month to disaster relief. If you would like to support SOIL’s efforts please consider donating or helping to organize a fundraiser in your area. The best way to get money to us is either through an online donation at www.oursoil.org or by mailing a check to SOIL, 124 Church Rd., Sherburne, NY 13460. All donations are tax deductible and will go towards earthquake relief.
Thank you all.
With love from Haiti,