Thursday, October 9, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
In July we moved our children from the gritty city of Gonaives destroyed by Hurricane Jeanne in 2004 to the city of Jacmel, home of French colonial architecture, surrounded by lush mountains, and sitting on a beautiful bay.
Our home in Gonaives was always dusty, the city and countryside deforested and now desert-like. It is the inability of the land there to absorb rain and run-off from the mountains that leads to regular catastrophe. Our home in Gonaives collapsed during Hurricane Hannah eight weeks after we left.
Our children, many orphaned by Hurricane Jeanne, realize they escaped their own deaths by moving with us to Jacmel. They realize that they live in a home that flood waters will not touch, nor high winds blow away.
Our kids today have enormous smiles – bigger than I have ever seen them before. They have access in Jacmel to more food then they have ever seen in their lives and they are eating double portions three meals a day. Not to mention their academic scores have soared.
This is not to say they do not remember the hard times in Gonaives, or that psychological damage suffered there will not be hard for them to overcome.
Seven year old Jean told me yesterday, “If we had stayed, we would have died.” Twelve year-old Samson remembers from Hurricane Jeanne, “Cars and dead bodies floating by.” [Bernadine] age nine, remembers climbing to her roof to survive. “I was happy last week because we did not die,” she confided quietly to me.
The children of Orphans International in Jacmel are as strong as the people of Haiti themselves. No where in the world is there stronger people. Independent for over two hundred years – the first successful slave revolt which finally sent their masters packing – has left a host of leaders and outside powers who have in effect re-enslaved Haiti’s population, creating poverty and violence generation after generation. Any Haitian whose family has survived the endemic violence is strong by definition. Pride follows strength.
We are raising our little Haitians to be global citizens. This international outlook, coupled with the strength of Haitians, will make them proud players on a world playing field. Through their own natural strength, coupled with opportunities we are providing to them, our children shall overcome any obstacles.
I thank our enormously dedicated staff, lead by Jacques Africot and Doris Chernik, Ph.D., and our numerous child sponsors, including H.S.H. Prince Albert of Monaco, Sovereign Prince. This team of committed individuals help the dreams of Orphans International become reality. And allow the nightmares of our children to become their own dreams of Haiti’s future.
- Jim Luce, September 10, Cyvadier Village, Jacmel, South East Province, Haiti
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Al Jazeera News
Hundreds of people in Haiti have moved to higher ground, leaving the town of Gonaives steeped in flood water. Many are going without food and shelter.
Hurricane Ike threatens to disrupt relief effort. Some residents climbed on top of cars to reach the second floor of their homes, where they had piled up furniture and spread sheets to provide shade, Holly Inurreta, from Catholic Relief Services, said. Tropical Storm Hanna left hundreds of people dead and hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced.
Teresa Bo, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Gonaives, said: "This storm has already worsened what already was a critical situation ... and there could be mudslides."
Locals are "blaming the government and the United Nations because they have not eaten anything for days," she said.
Bo said further rain is making rescue operations even more difficult.
Hell on earth
In Gonaives, UN peacekeepers and aid workers are delivering high-energy biscuits and water to storm survivors, many of whom have not eaten since Monday.
"What I saw in this city today is close to hell on earth," Hedi Annabi, a UN envoy, said.
Everton Fox, Al Jazeera's meteorologist said: "Ike is making its way away from The Turks and Caicos islands pretty quickly.
"It is moving at about 25km per hour and will steadily head towards Cuba in a direct hit."
Fox said the storm will hit Cuba "strongly" but is then expected to "slow down significantly and become a category one hurricane by the time it leaves the country.
Due to a huge amount of rainfall in Cuba "there will be landslides, flash flooding and widespread devastation," he predicted.
'Hell on earth'
Dozens of children raised their hands and ran after UN food trucks that rumbled through the damp streets of Gonaives. "Hungry! Hungry!" they yelled.
Food also was brought to hungry inmates at the local jail.
The water in many neighborhoods has receded from about three metres high to about knee deep, but at least 40,000 people remain in emergency shelters.
However, the death toll in Gonaives has been reduced after Ernst Dorfeuille, the police commissioner for the city, told the Associated Press that a news report the previous evening that quoted him as saying 495 bodies had been found in Gonaives following Tropical Storm Hanna was completely wrong.
He said there were 32 confirmed deaths in this city on Haiti's west coast from the storm that hit on Monday.
Friday, September 5, 2008
The reports below are about the town, Gonaives, where the kids lived until July of this year. Their extended family & friends and school mates are there. Since our kids lost their own parents in just such a flood 4 years ago, the anxiety is terrible for them.
More money is needed for our Haiti project.. and we may need to see what extra we can give to their school, etc. All OI Haiti really has right now is 7 used donated laptop computers (the first one's the children have ever had access to) some clothes, vitamins, some surge protectors, school supplies and a sun oven. Money is needed for a generator and food.(There is rampant inflation all over Haiti in basic food items: rice, beans, everything. If any of you have any ideas for some simple, individual fundraisers we are interested. Individuals can help by going to www.oiww.org and sponsoring a child for $50. a month, that always helps. Thank you.
Orphans International Executive Director
Hungry children at three orphanages were waiting for the canvas-topped trucks, loaded with warm pots of rice and beans and towing giant tanks of drinking water.
The trucks didn't make it.
The convoy crept over mud-caked, semi-paved roads past closed stores, overturned buses and women wading in water up to their knees with plastic tubs on their heads.
After about 45 minutes, the half-dozen trucks ground to a halt. U.N. peacekeepers wearing camouflage fatigues and bulletproof vests jumped out while others stood guard with assault rifles.
Before them, a huge gouge marred the road. The floods had split the asphalt, and water ran through the 10-foot-wide (3-meter-wide) gap.
The convoy turned around. And the children — like tens of thousands more in this increasingly desperate city — went another day without food.
Later, Argentine U.N. troops stopped to dish out cooked rice from their own food supplies to a small crowd of hungry orphans.
"I haven't eaten since Monday," 12-year-old Srita Omiscar said as she waited in line with about 50 others.
Just a few blocks away, a woman's corpse in a floral dress floated in a submerged intersection.
At least 137 people died when Hanna struck Haiti, 102 of them in Gonaives and its surroundings, officials said. Some 250,000 people are affected in the Gonaives region and 54,000 people are living shelters across the country, according to government estimates. Argentine Capt. Sergio Hoj estimated that half of Gonaives' houses remained flooded Thursday.
Many houses were torn apart. Families huddled on rooftops, their possessions laid out to dry. Overturned cars were everywhere, and televisions floated in the brown water.
Gonaives — a collection of concrete buildings, run-down shacks and plazas with dilapidated fountains — lies in a flat river plain between the ocean and deforested mountains that run with mud even in light rains. Hanna swirled over Haiti for four days, dumping vast amounts of water, blowing down fruit trees and ruining stores of food as it swamped tin-roofed houses.
Hanna finally moved north Thursday with near hurricane-force winds on a path toward the southeastern U.S. coast. But in the chaos there was no way to know how many people might be dead, or how many had been driven from their homes. Two other storms killed 85 people in August, and forecasters warned that fearsome Hurricane Ike could hit Haiti next week.
Haiti's government has few resources to help. Rescue convoys have been blocked by floodwaters, although the U.N. World Food Program said Thursday it was sending a food-laden boat to Gonaives from the capital, Port-au-Prince, and would set up a base in the stricken city.
"All roads able to access Gonaives are cut either by bridges that have collapsed, by trees that have fallen down, or by waters that have washed away parts of the streets," U.N. food agency representative Myrta Kaulard said.
She said the U.N. peacekeeping mission was also hoping that its helicopters could take more U.N. personnel along to begin handing out aid, which includes 19 tons of biscuits, 50 tons of water, and water purification tablets.
In the capital, U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Mari Tolliver said $250,000 in relief supplies arrived in Haiti Thursday, including jugs of drinking water, and would be sent to Gonaives by boat or plane.
"The idea is to get it there within the next day or two. Every effort is being made," she said, adding that another $100,000 will be used to buy bedding, kitchen items and other goods for victims.
"The situation in Gonaives is catastrophic," Daniel Rouzier, Haiti chairman of Food for the Poor, wrote in an e-mail. "We, just like the rest of the victims ... have limited mobility. You can't float a boat, drive a truck or fly anything to the victims."
Anger and frustration were growing at the inability or unwillingness of the government and the international community to help.
"If they don't have food, it can be dangerous," warned Sen. Youri Latortue, who flew in by helicopter. "They can't wait."
Dozens of people gathered around the gates of the U.N. base. Some children climbed cinderblock walls topped by barbed wire to ask soldiers inside for food. Edgy U.N. peacekeepers went on a heightened state of alert, and have traded their floppy hats for helmets.
Ad Melkert, associate administrator of the U.N. Development Program who just returned from Haiti, admonished international donors to do more.
"The poverty in the rain and mud of Haiti that I witnessed is nothing less than a disgrace," he said. "Many actors or potential actors try to play their part, ranging from the national government to multilateral and bilateral donors and NGOS. They all need to do more and better."
The few aid-group representatives in Gonaives did what they could — but knew it wasn't enough.
A local coordinator for the Florida-based Food for the Poor charity sailed through the flooded streets in a 22-foot fishing boat and picked up survivors, including two men struggling to keep afloat.
"The whole town is destroyed," Bernard Chauvet told The Associated Press over his cell phone as he headed for dry land, his boat jammed with 22 people including a pregnant woman and several crying children.
"These people lost everything," he said. "They have no water, no food. It is very bad."
Up to 400 people huddled in the Roman Catholic Church and the residence of Bishop Yves-Marie Pean, turning it into a de facto refugee camp. Many camped out on the watery grounds, while the lucky ones rested on chapel pews.
"We have shared with them what we had, but now we don't have food or drinking water," Pean said by telephone. "What is left is for the babies. We are praying together in solidarity in this very difficult moment."
Chantal Pierre, 19, somehow made it to the gates of the U.N. base, which is occupied by mostly Argentine troops. Soldiers carried her on a stretcher into a gym and laid her gently down. She went into labor amid the weightlifting equipment.
Minutes later, at a makeshift hospital on the base, she gave birth to a healthy girl.
A day earlier, Dorlean Nadege, 26, had given birth at the same place. Both babies slept in their mothers' arms Thursday. The doctor, Julio Cesar Lotero, said Pierre would leave on Friday, but Nadege would stay because her home was destroyed by floodwaters.
"She has to stay here," he said. "She has nowhere to go."
Associated Press writers Danica Coto and David McFadden in San Juan, Puerto Rico, contributed to this report.
© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Monday, September 1, 2008
PS: We are at the begining of another month, I have to pay the staff and get food for this month (every price raised up after the hurricane). Please, don't let us suffer too much.
By JONATHAN M. KATZ – 22 hours ago
FAUCHE, Haiti (AP) — Looking over his field of toppled banana trees, Jean Tilhomme Fontius said he had no choice but to raise prices on a staple fruit in this food-starved country after Hurricane Gustav battered his crop.
"I don't know how much we're going to sell them for now, but the price is going to have to go up," said the 51-year-old farmer, offering an apologetic shrug.
Hurricane Gustav and Tropical Storm Fay both slammed Haiti in the past two weeks, killing at least 95 people and dealing a serious setback to efforts to boost agricultural production and break the impoverished country's dependence on imported food.
Relief workers are scrambling to respond to a crisis within a crisis as storm damage combined with persistent food shortages threatened to destabilize an already fragile political situation. Even as Gustav assaulted the southern city of Jacmel on Tuesday, protests over food prices were starting anew.
On Sunday, more than 8,700 people were still in shelters, some running out of food, while a preliminary U.N. report said Gustav's destruction to Haitian cropland was "very significant."
World Vision International planned to distribute food for 400 people on Friday, only to see 1,000 show up.
Almost 90 refugees in the town of Petit Goave still waited for food in a school shelter three days after the storm. A single pot of unseasoned beans simmered unwanted on a charcoal stove. The refugees refused to eat them without rice.
"We've been out of food since yesterday. The people outside are screaming," said the municipal official in charge of the shelter, Fritzgerald Douge, who had ducked into the principal's office to avoid an angry crowd of mothers.
The Western Hemisphere's poorest nation was already reeling from skyrocketing world food prices and rampant child malnutrition. Food riots in April left at least six Haitians and a U.N. peacekeeper dead and toppled the prime minister.
Only a fraction of tens of thousands of tons in food aid promised to quell the riots had been delivered by July.
The storms struck just as Haiti was making progress. World Vision International reached its goal of handing out more than 550 tons (500 metric tons) of food in August — including some that had piled up in warehouses in July.
New Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis, who was approved by parliament in late July, was working to build a new government.
But farms on Haiti's southern peninsula were first drenched by Fay and then flattened by Gustav, which roared ashore as a Category 1 hurricane, ripping apart tin shacks, toppling mountainsides and sending cascades of water into vulnerable fields below.
According to a U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization report released Saturday, six miles of irrigation channels were destroyed in the peninsula town of Belle Roche. In another group of towns near Jacmel, 2,000 heads of livestock were swept away by rushing rivers, the report said.
Hardwood trees that should have protected Fontius' fields were cut down years ago to sell for charcoal, allowing the storm to flatten hundreds of his banana plants and leave behind a thick carpet of sandy mud.
Fontius and other farmers in the small peninsula town of Fauche, about an hour west of Port-au-Prince, had been selling most varieties of bananas and plantains for around US$3.55 a bunch, anywhere from 60 to 100 individual pieces.
Now they will likely double their prices to keep their families from going hungry.
"We have nothing," said Fontius, whose eight children range from ages 12 to 27. "Life is like living in a cloud for us. We never know what is going to happen."
Aid groups and government officials sent teams of agricultural monitors and promised aid to shelters by next week.
Some monitors had to wait until Friday to tour the damage because of a travel ban imposed by U.N. peacekeepers.
A local Interior Ministry official in nearby Grand Goave said the impact of the storms would continue reverberating for months in meager harvests and with families whose losses force them to pull children out of school.
With Tropical Storm Hanna churning north of the Bahamas and a tropical wave headed west from the African coast, those who work in Haiti know the worst may not be over yet.
"Every day the situation is getting worse. The people are planting and waiting for food when these hurricanes go through," said Pierre Antoinier St.-Cyr, who monitors Les Cayes for the Lambi Fund agricultural group. "We have to keep starting over all the time."
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
- five times a week in partnership with the What If Foundation. Children from Cité-Soleil have been known to walk the five miles to the church for a meal. The costs of rice, beans, vegetables, a little meat, spices, cooking oil and propane for the stoves, have gone up dramatically. Because of the rise in the cost of food, the portions are now smaller. But hunger is on the rise, and more and more children come for the free meal. Hungry adults used to be allowed to eat the leftovers once all the children were fed, but now there are few leftovers.
There was violence ... 'rice wars,' and lives were lost."
Rice subsidies in the US totaled $11 billion from 1995 to 2006. One producer alone, Riceland Foods of Stuttgart, Arkansas, received over $500 million in rice subsidies between 1995 and 2006.
A 2006 story in The Washington Post found that the federal government has paid at least $1.3 billion in subsidies for rice and other crops since 2000 to individuals who do no farming at all; including $490,000 to a Houston surgeon who owned land near Houston that once grew rice.
All this speeded up the downward spiral that led to this month's food riots."
$1 a day. The US-backed Voice of America reports about 850 million people were suffering from hunger worldwide before the latest round of price increases.
Middle-class people may cut back on extra trips or on high price cuts of meat. The number of people on food stamps in the US is at an all-time high. But in poor countries, where malnutrition and hunger were widespread before the rise in prices, there is nothing to cut back on except eating. That leads to hunger riots.
The cost of living is the biggest worry for us; no peace in stomach means no peace in the mind.... I wonder if others will be able to survive the days ahead, because things are very, very hard."
Jervais Rodman, an unemployed carpenter with three children, stood in a long line Saturday in Port-au-Prince to get UN-donated rice and beans. When Rodman got the small bags, he told Ben Fox of The Associated Press, "The beans might last four days. The rice will be gone as soon as I get home."
Saturday, April 12, 2008
The situation in Haiti is politically unstable, inflationary - and just plain scary. We are sending more money to Haiti than we are taking in. We need your help. Here is an idea on the price of the every day staples on April 2007 and their price now:
· Rice (55#) $18.68 $29.05
· Millet (6#) $ 1.11 $ 2.49
· Cornmeal $16.60 $23.52
· Cooking oil $ 5.12 $ 9.69
· Milk (2 gal) $13.83 $ 19.36
· Propane $13.83 $17.98
Jacques Africot, OIH Director
“We were almost dead”…
“If you are going downtown bring a knife.”
This is what Jean Kerby, one of our little boys, told me after coming back from school one hour earlier than usual, Tuesday, April 8, 2008 – less than a week ago.
All the kids tried to explain to me at the same time that people launched rocks at their school, forcing the principle to release them. It was 10am, last Tuesday when the protest started in Gonaives.
When there is a riot, they force the school to close their door to force their participation. The crowd wanted to force the government to pay attention (or to do something) to the increasing of the price of the products. Especially, the price on the groceries. Our kids are safe, but scared.
The crowd shouted: “Better die with gun than hungry.” In fact, since the end of last year, the price of many products started to go up. Since the end of March and the beginning of this April, it has been unbearable. In two weeks the price of groceries is almost double.Donate Today - Haiti Relief!
This July, we must move the children to a new home and new school in a new town. Everything in Haiti is expensive, if you can get it at all. The reason that less than 20% of children in Haiti go to school is because their parents can't afford the high tuition rates, or the uniforms, books, and travel to get there.
Right now we need $5,000 in additional donations to secure our first year rental house and make the July move. Our regular transfer payments are maxed out because of the inflationary crisis, which isn't going away.
Our loyal Haitian staff does a great job of stretching every dollar and keeping our kids supplied... but it has become impossible to keep up on the child sponsorship rates we receive.
So we are asking you for special humanitarian donations for Haiti. All are tax deductible. And all money will IMMEDIATELY go to Haiti to secure our kids' future. Since they were orphaned by Hurricane Jeanne in 2004, they have no one to look to but us. Please help.
– Linda Stanley, Executive Director, Orphans International America, New York
Food prices, which have risen 40% on average globally since mid-2007, are causing unrest around the world. But they pose a particular threat to democracy in Haiti, where most people live on less than $2 a day.
“We hope the president says food prices are going to go down,” said Paul Fleury, a 53-year-old man who has been unemployed for a decade. “I have five kids and I provide food if I can. Some days it’s bread and sugar.”
Haiti, home to 8.5 million people, is the poorest country in the Americas.
Eighty per cent of its population earns less than $2 a day, below the UN-established poverty rate. “Living conditions are horrible. We are tired of hearing promises, we want fast action,” Wilson, one of the protesters outside the presidential palace, told the AFP news agency.
Price Rises. The protests began after a sudden jump in prices for fuel and basic food commodities.
The rice price has doubled from $35 to $70 for a 120 pound sack, and gasoline has seen its third price hike in less than two months.
Jacques-Edouard Alexis, Haiti’s prime minister, condemned the protests but acknowledged the source of the discontent. On Monday he announced a $42 million program to ease the situation, including the creation of thousands of jobs for youth, grants for small businesses, and other measures to solve the problems.
“These measures take time. We need to have patience,” he said on local radio.
April 11, Washington (AKI)
Rising food prices will threaten economic growth and worsen poverty around the world, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The organization says price increases will put further strain on a global economy already hard hit by a financial crisis.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, IMF managing director, said the price increases were caused by drought in Australia and in central Europe, and growing demand for food in Asian countries. Higher oil prices are exacerbating costs in many countries as well.
“Food prices increased by 48 percent since the end of 2006 until now, which is a huge increase, and it may undermine all the gains we have obtained in reducing poverty,” Strauss-Kahn said. The IMF said because food represents a larger share of what poorer consumers buy, a global increase in food prices has a bigger impact on inflation in poorer countries.
As a sign of growing strain, there have been recent food riots in Haiti and Egypt.