I always loved August as a kid, and I still enjoy the feel of it.
No school, my birthday, my mom’s birthday, my grandfather’s birthday, summer fairs, plenty of neighborhood sports and games, special mass for the Assumption on August 15.
Last Saturday (August 14) I turned 68, and after mass and COVID rounds, I was going to work for a while in our 60 beehives : hive health checks and the harvesting of honey.
I was having a second cup of coffee with some of the workers, and the ground started heaving. It heaved and heaved, and we went outside so the high stacked goods in the warehouse wouldn’t fall on us.
What happened next, well, you have all seen the news.
Luckily, we had a St Luke medical team doing summer health camps in Port Salut and Camp Perrin already. It was easy to turn them into a trauma team immediately, to help at General Hospital in Les Cayes and also for mildly injured people, which we did the same day. We sent them supplies the same afternoon by truck, a four hour trip.
The only problem with that trip, which I made yesterday (Aug 15), is the Martissant section of drive, so dangerous because of the bandits. They kidnapped an ambulance on Saturday which was bringing an earthquake victim to Port au Prince for trauma care. They are bad news. By radio they guaranteed safe crossing during these days, but obviously the value of their word scores well into the negative numbers.
Aside from that St Luke team, we reserved 50 beds at St Luke hospital for those who would be brought to Port au Prince by ambulance or air, in case the combined bed-load of the selected hospitals was not enough. We also offered free CT scan and XRAY to those coming from the south to other hospitals in Port au Prince, and this is taken advantage of.
Yesterday we got up at 5am and packed emergency medicines and supplies for two teams: to Jeremie and to Les Cayes. I went with the Les Cayes team to both Les Cayes and Camp Perrin, Nebez went with the Jeremie team.
The Jeremie team met an avalanche at Duchity. The road could not be passed. Nebez called for a truck from Jeremie to come to Duchity from the other side, and they crossed the landslide by foot, carrying the crates of supplies with lots of help from willing local people.
The visits and panorama of the problems and communication among ourselves and affected people, led to this overall plan.
OUR EFFORTS WILL BE POINTED, RATIONAL AND LOCAL.
We will try to focus on Haitian leaders known to us, to enable them to be of real assistance just as donors enable us to be of assistance we just “pass it on” in the best way
A) St. Luke Hospital has reserved 50 beds for airlifted people from our visits to Les Cayes and Jeremie. Most of our urgent cases are already in Port au Prince at other hospitals and have come to us for free CT scans and x-rays. It is not likely these beds will be needed.
B) Through close contacts in Les Cayes and at St Antoine in Jeremie, we can help supply the very few existing hospitals in the main cities. This will continue today and continue for as long as necessary. We know other organizations will be helping them so we need to help in a coordinated way so it is not wasteful.
C) The St Luke “SKALA” team was already doing summer camp clinics in Les Cayes and Camp Perin. We are supplying them in a regulated way with what they need as they have converted to a crisis team. They will continue for as long as necessary.
D) Brigitte Hudicourt alerted us to the doctor in Duchity who needs wound care help. He is apparently the only doctor of the region.
If he needs help we can try to send him a small team. Nebez will contact him as soon as I get his number, We will send help right away. To the landslide, and then carried in.
We will look for the contact info of similar medical people in Pestel, Baraderes, Petit Trou and other places cited as needing help.
E) Through Bishop Dumas (Fr Rick) in Anse a Veau area, and Bishop Decostes (Fr Enzo) in Jeremie, we will see what support we can garner for their efforts to help the people.
In talking to many people, what they most need and want urgently is a roof.
So a good humanitarian way to help, non medically, and trying to avoid tent cities at all costs, would to be to help people put up a roof.
We will start tomorrow with select families in Petit Trou de Nippes.
Most of this will be aluminum roofing sheets and lumber.We will make a simple calculation per family. Our effort to help with be at grass roots level through people we know in the areas. For this aspect of humanitarian help, we will avoid the cities and focus on the country side, since the cities will get a lot of help. We can set a goal to try to help at least 250 families. Materials will be delivered to the families under supervision of our local networks.
Sorry I am way behind, now, on emails. I really appreciated hearing encouragement from many of you on my birthday, and even more your messages of concern related to the current crisis. The pharoah was embattled by plagues, until something broke and a new freedom was won for an enslaved people.
The new COVID wave, the assassination of the president, the escalation of crime and kidnapping, the economic fatigue from the high cost of living, the earthquake, the hurricanes on the way- we are waiting for the day of new found freedom.
Fr Rick Frechette CP
Port au Prince
August 16 2021