Many Haitians found it safer to sleep outdoors or in shelters away from solid structures for fear of an aftershock.
An UMCOR photo by Mike Dubose/UMNS
Haitian people continue each day to sort through what are for many just fragments of their pre-earthquake lives in cities most affected. At night many find greater security sleeping outdoors in tents or shelters away from solid structures. Two significant aftershocks (one at 4.7 Richter) jangled our nerves the second night, helping us sense why some Haitians may still be in a state of shock.
During the day, government and non-government organizations “cluster” under United Nations leadership to share information and coordinate efforts. I attended a meeting of the Relief and Agriculture Clusters with Mr. Anthony Jones, UMCOR Emergency Response Specialist, and learned that local Haitian workers are being paid to remove rubble from public places. Canals and ditches essential for water removal and irrigation for farming during the rainy season (April) will soon receive special attention. Surveys reveal that smaller towns and rural areas have absorbed tens of thousands of internally displaced people from the most severely affected Port-au-Prince / Leogane / Petit Goave corridor. This internal displacement has put pressure on farmers to use seeds for food and even to sell equipment and animals to feed and shelter incoming families. Seeds and tools will be distributed among farmers so the farming season begins on time.
The Methodist Church of Haiti’s rescheduled annual conference moved its venue to little-affected Les Cayes. Methodists from Britain, The Caribbean and the U.S. sent representatives to show solidarity and to pledge prayers, material and financial support for Haiti’s recovery. I was privileged to share UMCOR’s newly forged goal statement that commits resources and promises close coordination of efforts among Global Ministries units (UMCOR, Women’s Division, Mission & Evangelism) and between United Methodist Volunteers in Mission and the Methodist Church of Haiti. Our Haitian brothers and sisters are anxious to see United Methodists live fully into this new statement of commitment.
By Rev. Dr. James L Gulley, UMCOR Consultant for Agriculture and Community Development and Haiti earthquake survivor.