Thursday, January 21, 2010

Haiti Earthquake : Islamic Relief Aid Worker's Diary #2

My colleague from Islamic Relief UK, Br. Moadh Keriji wrote again. Do read his latest blog entry and if you want to donate to help, you can visit our website:

19 January 2010

Yesterday I met Joanne, and I will never forget what she told me. Joanne is a chef by profession and she moved to Haiti from the US three months ago. I met her at a makeshift camp in Port-au-Prince, where many displaced, homeless people have gathered to seek refuge.

In her arms was a newborn baby and as soon as she saw the Islamic Relief team she approached us hastily and asked if we had any clean water.

She needed to add clean water to the baby’s formula milk but could not find any. I asked her the baby’s name and she said she did not know. The baby’s mother had died before she could give her child a name.

Joanne told me the baby boy was born the day before the earthquake. Both mother and baby were found alive but the mother died later from her injuries.

Before dying, she asked Joanne to look after her baby. Now Joanne was desperate to feed the baby but did not know where she could find clean water.

I will never forget the look of desperation in her eyes. As a father of two young boys, I could feel her pain and anguish.

Although we did not have any clean water to distribute yesterday, the Islamic Relief team went back to the camp today with two huge water tankers.

Joanne and 200 families were given clean water, many of them for the first time in a week. With the water system in Port-au-Prince damaged by the earthquake, people have been forced to drink dirty, contaminated water.

This water is extremely dangerous as it can lead to many diseases, with babies and young children particularly at risk.

Islamic Relief is also planning to install around 40 water tanks in the city, and water tankers will go around twice a day to fill each tank. A single water tanker costs $100 (£65) here, and provides water to over 100 people.

One of the most pressing needs of the people after clean water and food is temporary shelter.

Most of the people of Port-au-Prince are spending their nights in the open because their homes have either been destroyed or are too unstable to enter.

They are using any materials they can get their hands on to create makeshift tents, like pieces of cloth tied to pieces of plastic.

Madame Emmanuel is one of the people I met living out in the open. She told me that her house had collapsed on top of her, her husband and her niece.

Fortunately, the collapsed wall around her left a little gap where she was able to remain safe, but trapped with her husband who is blind.

After spending a few hours under the rubble people from the neighbourhood heard her cries and came to their rescue. They had no rescue equipment but used hammers and hacksaws until they got her and her husband out to safety.

Unfortunately her niece was not so fortunate. 22-year-old Emily was taking a shower when the earthquake struck and as she went to put on her clothes the walls and ceiling collapsed, and she died instantly.

Over the next few days, Islamic Relief is planning to distribute secure, waterproof, tents to house over 5,000 people.

We promised Madame Emmanuel that we would do our best to provide her with temporary shelter as quickly as possible.

Each of these family tents costs £300 and will bring much-needed shelter to people who are spending their days and nights without a roof over their heads.

We really are in a race against time to provide the people of Haiti with food, water and shelter.

I am witnessing how they suffer every day and I hope our donors will give generously so we can help as many people as possible.

People like the Madam Emannuel, who lost everything she had, and the unnamed baby in Joanna’s arms, who has been born into this terrible tragedy.

1 comment:

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