- About MCC
- What we do
- Get involved
- Stories and resources
- Ways to give
On site in Haiti
Despite challenges, vibrant life
Technology challenges, specifically erratic Internet connections, have won out over Linda’s goal to post each day during her Haiti visit. So after this, no more posts from Port-au-Prince and beyond. But look for MCC stories after Linda and photographer Silas Crews return.
Monday: We are headed to Radio Nationale d’Haïti to interview people about advertisements they have been running to encourage people to buy Haitian food, not imported food, so that the money stays in the Haitian economy. MCC supports these ads through partner organization Mouvman Kore Pwodiksyon Lokal (Support Local Production).
Sunday: We worshipped with the people of Assemblée de la Grace, a Mennonite congregation on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, led by Pastor Lesly Bertrand. Bertrand is overseer of 24 Mennonite churches in Haiti.
MCC has worked with Assemblée de la Grace to distribute food and other material aid and to build temporary housing for some members. Almost everyone in Croix-des-Bouquets, the community where the church is located, was affected by the Jan. 12 earthquake – most houses were damaged; a few were destroyed.
We visited two people in their new homes, which are predominantly built of tin. One temporary home was built beside the remains of the owners’ former, much-larger house. Now the husband and wife and their four children live in a space largely filled by one large bed.
Hear Pastor Bertrand speak in the early days after the earthquake of the resilience of his congregation on this MCC audio report: http://mcc.org/stories/podcasts/strong-faith
Outstanding experiences of the week: Riding on a moto-taxi, weaving in and out of crazy traffic. Piles of garbage because there’s no regular garbage pick up. Mounds of rubble. Broken streets. Houses still tilting at precarious angles. No electricity most of the time. Yet in the streets, people move with purpose. They laugh, they play, they fix motorcycles, they cook and sell. They tend to babies. Life is very vibrant in the midst of it all.
Tent camp visit
A long and loud thunderstorm came to
My thoughts strayed to the people inside the massive tent cities we had passed on the way from the airport. What is it like to be there now, with the rain pouring down, the thunder and lightning separated from you by a layer of plastic? What would you do if the rain came in?
On Monday, I got a few answers to my questions. We visited a tent city for 1,500 people that was established on a public park. It used to be a place of leisure. Now it is a place of survival.
The tent cities situated throughout the city are called IDP camps – for internally displaced people. The people there are used to live in a home or an apartment prior to the earthquake that would have protected them from the rain, if not an earthquake. Homelessness was not much of an issue in
With the guidance of a man who heads the community leadership group at the camp, seven of us from MCC walked through the maze of tents. I felt like an intruder, and I was. This area, as much as it was nothing more than cobbled together pieces of plastic, canvas or other fabric, was their home.
Yet people welcome us in, eager to show us the desperateness of their living conditions – the dirt floors and the flimsy tent ceilings. When they slept Sunday night, the water rolled through some of the tents. Some people tried to sleep on tarps that they lifted up to channel water around their heads, but that didn’t work very well. They were scrubbing those muddy tarps yesterday.
In the lower parts of the camp, water pooled outside the tents, complete with the garbage the water had swept from the camp. The families who lived there were trying to clean it up, so the mosquitoes didn’t breed there.
In the midst of these awful conditions, what I noticed most were the children. Babies that must have been birthed in the camp – in fact the leader said that many babies were born this week to women who survived the earthquake pregnant. The older children played soccer and jumped rope, wrestled with each other, played soccer and played or bathed in buckets of water. I was happy to see that many were eating plates of rice and beans.
(Please read below for older entries, and continue to check the site for new material.)
Come along with me
Yollette Jean, left, and Pancha Moreno, right, MCC Haiti's connecting peoples coordinator, help clear rubble from the site where an MCC Haiti employee's home collapsed during the January earthquake. Photo by Ben Depp.