Community coming to the aid of Haiti in wake of earthquake
Published 1:03 am, Wednesday, January 20, 2010
In Haiti, the devastation of the earthquake that struck last Tuesday has created a need for water and shelter, but that's just the beginning.
Urban planners, psychiatrists, engineers, medical workers, architects, social workers and a wealth of other professionals are needed in order to look beyond the short-term outpouring of support and toward Haiti's future.
"I think what's most important ... is that we have to look at this long term," said Louse Elneus, founder of Haiti Lumiere De Demain, a nonprofit organization devoted to education in Haiti.
Elneus and other Haiti-related organization leaders around Fairfield County were in Fairfield Town Hall Tuesday to discuss ways that charities can coordinate their efforts in light of the catastrophe that has nearly leveled the nation. During the press conference, leaders said even giving as little as a dollar could go a long way.
Thousands of Haitians left homeless have flocked to Port-Au-Prince, the capital, to survive. Estimates of casualties range from 50,000 to 100,000 and wide-spread looting has been reported by numerous media outlets. Basic essentials such as water and food have been lacking for many survivors. U.S. troops landed within days to provide aid, and other organizations are waiting to hear from the government on when they can arrive.
"The whole country is in need and the need is getting worse," said Elneus.
The recently-formed Haiti Disaster Relief Command Center, based in Bridgeport, has been working to organize groups of people that can help in Haiti. While most charity efforts are focused on Port-Au-Prince, the capital, Pierre D'Haiti said that there are outside towns that charities have not been able to reach yet.
D'Haiti said bodies are being burned without any identification, and things are so bad in some places that masks are needed more than canned goods.
"Masks are very important right now because I got word this morning that ... the odors of the dead bodies start to rise," D'Haiti said. "It's 90 degrees down there. You can imagine what that does."
Long-term fixes were a focus throughout the press conference. Fairfield resident Marc Andre said he will mourn the devastation the earthquake caused long after the news organizations leave the country. He thanked Fairfield for the support that he and his family have received.
"These are human stories," he said. "These are my stories."
A Web site will be launching shortly for the Haiti Disaster Relief Command Center, and they have yet to secure a headquarters, but in the meantime, Rev. Josh Saint-Fleur said that anyone looking to help can contact him at (617) 504 6171.
For more information about local organizations helping in Haiti, see the Fairfield Citizen's editorial on page A8.