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People who lost homes or who do not want to sleep in damaged homes gather on roads and in parks. This photo was taken in Petionville, Haiti, on Jan. 14. Photo by Ben Depp/MCC

People who lost homes or who do not want to sleep in damaged homes gather on roads and in parks. This photo was taken in Petionville, Haiti, on Jan. 14. Photo by Ben Depp/MCC

On site: Responding to the urgent, but looking long term

Ben Depp
January 19, 2010

Ben Depp, MCC worker in Haiti, writes on a blog that he and his wife, Alexis Erkert Depp, update as they can. They are from Waxhaw, N.C.

Alexis and I have been really busy and have felt a huge urgency to our work. When I'm out on the street, so many people are hungry and thirsty. There is still a small amount of food for sale, but most people don't have any money to buy food or water. Some of the large camps have water tanks that have been set up by the Red Cross and others.
 
Alexis is busy working for IOM (International Organization of Migration, an intergovernmental organization that is responding to the earthquake) today helping them build a database of camp locations for internally displaced people (IDP). Everybody else (on the team) is busy, some with food distributions, other's trying to coordinate medical supplies, food shipments and fuel from the Dominican Republic.

Something to remember when sending money is that this is going take Haitians years to rebuild, so yes, there is an urgent, urgent need on the ground right now for basic survival items, but in a few months people will need work, help rebuilding and stronger local agriculture to meet their food needs...

I've visited a ton of IDP camps and a good number of them have had no contact with NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) but have already formed committees and have organized leadership to control security, build temporary shelters and designate bathroom areas... Some of these camps are really impressive. It's cool to see this. It's something to remember that even though we're doing emergency relief we also need to be doing development.