Haiti was struck today by the largest earthquake in the region since 1770. Information is spotty but we do know the following: The General Hospital, the Ministry of Commerce, the National Palace (left), and many homes have collapsed. What we do not know is how many have been injured and how many have died. Power lines are down. Comms were also down but are slowly improving. The international airport is still intact. We heard from Matt and he is ok. If half of the Twitter reports are true, this has been a major catastrophe. We will post updates in the comments section, please do the same.
Port Au Prince
Surgical Volunteers International (SVI) is an organization that specializes in treating clefts, burns and urological problems. SVI visited Haiti in March and worked with Haitian counterparts to reconstruct, without charge, 67 cleft lips and palates. SVI will travel to Haiti in June and again in September. If you know of a Haitian child in need of surgery for a cleft lip or palate, please pass on the contact information contained in the attached flyer (in Kreyol) to his/her family. Below is a summary of their last visit from the SVI Blog.
Last week, a blogger named Tynan wrote about his experiences couch-surfing in Haiti. He was initially nervous about visiting Haiti due to the images of burning tires and protests one sees so often on the television and news-paper. Couch surfing allowed him to see some of the most positive aspects of Haitian culture such as the warmth, hospitality, and humor. His trip to Haiti went without incident. Ironically enough, he was mugged durng the next leg of his trip in the Dominican Republic. The blog entry is copied below.
Below is an article in the Catholic Sentinel about the Louverture Cleary School, a respected institution in Port au Prince that admits students based solely on merit, not their ability to pay. When we think of development, too often we just think about physical infrastructure. In terms of human development, education is essential. The graduates of Louverture Cleary, many of whom grew up in the most "hopeless" parts of Port au Prince, have gone on to be doctors, engineers, and community organizers. Bélimaire Emmanuel's story below illustrates how critical education is to cultivate a new generation of leadership in Haiti.
There is a Haitian proverb that says what the eyes can't see, the heart cannot feel. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has selected their photo of the year, taken in Haiti. Below is an article Barbara Hans wrote about the photo in Der Spiegel Online. If you would like to see more photos of Haiti, take a look at the Haiti Innovation Flickr Site or a list of Haiti Photo Blogs (part 1 and part 2).
Let's face it - life is fragile. One mosquito bite or one glass of questionable water makes the difference between good health one day, and sickness the next. In developing countries such as Haiti, the very water needed to survive can also cause sickness and, for the young, even death. In Port au Prince, the wealthy purchase treated water while the poor depend on crumbling infrastructure. A documentary entitled "Drop for Drop" explores access to water in Haiti's largest city.