Hearts For Haiti’s Hurricane Survivors

Hurricane Matthew devastated Southwest Haiti in October, and that area of the country remains in peril, now from a food shortage and the threat of cholera, as the storm wiped out rice fields and contaminated the water supply. Hearts For Haitian Humanity held an emergency fundraising and supply drive, then travelled to Haiti to distribute the goods to hurricane victims. I went along to document the short, but intense, trip.

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We started the journey from Port-au-Prince on Saturday morning, going past the vast market at La Saline.

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We follow the traffic over a temporary ford through a river. The original bridge, further up-river, collapsed during the hurricane, and according to local residents, no attempts have been made by the government to repair it.

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Along Route Nationale 2 to Aux Cayes, we travelled behind this bus, and were astounded that the man was fast asleep in such a precarious position. Men like him are often hired to guard the goods on top of vehicles, as when the trucks slow down for a speed bump or a traffic jam, potential thieves could scramble to the top, cut the binding, and take the goods.

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A couple hours from Port-au-Prince, we see more effects of the hurricane, such as this low-lying area which had been flooded. The residents were taking advantage of the opportunity to swim, bathe, and wash clothes.

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We arrived at Aux Cayes, and met up with Abdias’ cousin, Junior, who lives there. He showed us an area that had sustained damage from the hurricane. After the flooding, when the water receded, all of this trash was left behind, literally on the doorsteps of these homes.

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Then we met Judelande. She was struck on the head and chest by falling debris during the hurricane, and a month later, had still not received medical attention, because her family could not pay for it. She had open, infected wounds on her face, shoulder, and her breast, which was swollen to twice its normal size. H3 gave her the money for treatment, including a scan for her head injury, and are now awaiting results.

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A child pulls water from a well in a neighborhood where many homes lost their roofs or were destroyed entirely by the hurricane.

A stuffed animal set on a rooftop to dry out from the hurricane.

A stuffed animal set on a rooftop to dry out from the hurricane.

Men work to repair a home damaged by Hurricane Matthew.

Men work to repair a home damaged by Hurricane Matthew.

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In Aux Cayes, Junior takes us to a shelter for those whose homes were destroyed, and they line up to receive the goods from H3.

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There were only a few mattresses there, which were given to the youngest children to sleep on.

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Dajah and Abdias go through mounds of clothing, which were sorted back in Port-au-Prince, to give to some of the young girls.

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After a while, worried that H3’s donations will run out before their turn, the orderly lines become a crowd, but soon everyone is served.

A little boy waits his turn in line.

A little boy waits his turn in line.

Abdias gives clothing and toiletries to young men at the shelter.

Abdias gives clothing and toiletries to young men at the shelter.

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The Riviere la Ravine du Sud in Aux Cayes, which overflowed during the hurricane, depositing trash and sewage into the streets and homes.

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A young man does homework in his neighborhood under the bridge, which was submerged during the hurricane, destroying homes and leaving debris.

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As we drive by the bay on our way out of town, we find people watching the beauty of the coast as the sun sets.

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On the next day, Sunday, we head back over the the mountains, our destination even further, in Port Salut, which sustained even more damage than Aux Cayes.

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As we go through Cavaillon, just East of Aux-Cayes, we stopped to survey some bad damage.

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We then notice a church, also damaged, and realize the parishioners are holding a service.

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As the congregation worships, Abdias and Emilio talk with the pastor and leave behind a large bundle of clothing for them.

Back in Aux-Cayes, on the western side, we see even more devastation.

Back in Aux-Cayes, on the western side, we see even more devastation.

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We arrive at Port Salut, and walk the stairs down to a beach, now strewn with debris from the hurricane.

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The scope of the hurricane becomes clear as we look across the once beautiful beach area. Look up Port Salut on TripAdvisor and you will see just what a loss this is for Haiti.h3hmblog_33

Abdias gives out clothing.

Abdias gives out clothing.

A young boy peeks out from his tarp-covered home.

A young boy peeks out from his tarp-covered home.

Dajah holds a little girl while her mother receives a donation from H3.

Dajah holds a little girl while her mother receives a donation from H3.

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A man goes about his daily routine amid the rubble of his home just outside of Aux Cayes.

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Back in Aux Cayes, the H3 team meets with staff from the Immaculate Conception Hospital to drop off some goods. The hospital was flooded and lost all their supplies, but had finally starting seeing patients again. The hospital is also a base for teams of healthcare workers who are going out into the community to administer cholera vaccines.

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While at the hospital, we stopped into the children’s unit, and the team passed out children’s clothing, formula, and toiletries. Those items are needed even in normal circumstances there.

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After leaving the hospital, we head back through the mountains to Port-au-Prince.

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On Monday, our last day in Haiti, we stop in to check on Sovenel, who we met on our trip in August. He’s doing well – he’s in school and living with Emilio, Abdias’s cousin and our driver extraordinaire.

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We then go to visit Nadine, who works at our hotel, to give some clothing to folks in her neighborhood. She keeps the children occupied with some dancing as the H3 team sets up.

Dajah and Abdias do their thing. By this time, they have their system down.

Dajah and Abdias do their thing. By this time, they have their system down.

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Nadine’s neighborhood is in Petionville, just yards from American McMansion-sized homes, belonging to both Haitian and foreign business owners and politicians. Last year the area was also flooded and some of her friends were killed in the flood. Residents say they have received no help from their more fortunate neighbors.

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Cynthia.

Cynthia.

We stay at Nadine's until the sun goes down and make our way back to the hotel.

We stay at Nadine’s until the sun goes down and make our way back to the hotel.

A view of the Northwest of Haiti, as we return to Florida.

We say goodbye.

5 thoughts on “Hearts For Haiti’s Hurricane Survivors

  1. There are no words to thank you for all of your efforts in helping those who suffered so much loss and tragedy. I pray we can continue to do more so everyone can have a bed, clean clothes, plenty of food and water and a safe place to sleep. I am humbled at at how incredibly lucky we are and all of the things we take for granted every day.

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