Arkansas Democrat Gazette

Posted by: Dean Wright

Tagged in: Media

Dean Wright

ARKANSANS HELP HAITI RECOVER

VOLUNTEERS PULL TEETH, TEACH HYGIENE, SAVE LIVES IN SHAKEN NATION

BY AMY SCHLESING

Haitians wait in line for medical treatment at a clinic in Bois Marchand near Gonaives organized by the Arkansas group Haitian Christian Development Project.

PHOTO BY BENJAMIN KRAIN

HAITIANS WAIT IN LINE FOR MEDICAL TREATMENT AT A CLINIC IN BOIS MARCHAND NEAR GONAIVES ORGANIZED BY THE ARKANSAS GROUP HAITIAN CHRISTIAN DEVELOPMENT PROJECT.

GONAIVES, HAITI — DANIEL RAMBERGER GRIPPED A METAL DENTAL INSTRUMENT IN HIS RIGHT HAND AND CLAMPED DOWN ON ONE OF THE FEW REMAINING TEETH IN THE MOUTH OF A SQUIRMING HAITIAN WOMAN WHO LAY ON A TABLE IN FRONT OF HIM.

THEY WERE IN THE MIDDLE OF A MANGO GROVE, LARGE LEAFY BRANCHES RUSTLING IN THE STRONG BREEZE AND ARCING ABOVE THEM LIKE AN UMBRELLA. THE NERVOUS PATIENT TRIED TO SOOTHE HERSELF BY RUBBING HER BARE FEET TOGETHER, DUSTING THE TABLE WITH DIRT AS SHE FOCUSED HER GAZE ON THE GREEN FRUIT SWAYING IN THE TREE ABOVE LIKE A MOBILE OVER A BABY’S CRIB.

THE SHOT SHE RECEIVED TO NUMB HER MOUTH HAD LITTLE EFFECT ON HER NERVES.

DR. STEPHEN BOATRIGHT OF LITTLE ROCK ENDODONTISTS GAVE RAMBERGER BRIEF INSTRUCTIONS AND THEN STEPPED OUT OF THE WAY.

THEN, WITH A SLIGHT TWIST AND A YANK, RAMBERGER PLUCKED THE ROTTEN TOOTH AND TOSSED IT INTO A NEARBY TRASH BAG. THE WOMAN LET OUT A DEEP BREATH AND ALLOWED HER GAZE TO DRIFT FROM THE SWINGING MANGO ABOVE.

“AND THERE WAS YOUR FIRST,” BOATRIGHT SAID, HIS WIDE GRIN PEEKING OUT FROM THE EDGES OF HIS LOOSE SURGICAL MASK.

“THAT’S WHY I’M HERE,” RAMBERGER SAID, SMILING BACK.

THE TRIP IS AS MUCH ABOUT LEARNING AS IT IS ABOUT GIVING A HELPING HAND FOR THESE STUDENTS.

RAMBERGER WENT TO HAITI ON A JOINT VENTURE WITH HARDING UNIVERSITY’S STUDENT NURSING PROGRAM AND THE HAITI CHRISTIAN DEVELOPMENT PROJECT, AN ORGANIZATION BASED IN LITTLE ROCK THAT PROVIDES MICRO-LOANS FOR STRUGGLING LOCAL BUSINESSES AND OFFERS TRAINING ON AGRICULTURAL SKILLS AT ITS FARM JUST OUTSIDE OF GONAIVES.

THE PROGRAM WAS ESTABLISHED IN 1990 OUT OF PLEASANT VALLEY CHURCH OF CHRIST IN LITTLE ROCK, BUT OPERATES UNDER AN INDEPENDENT BOARD.

CHURCHES AND PRIVATE AID ORGANIZATIONS HAVE DIRECTED MONEY AND MEDICAL MISSIONS TO HAITI FOR DECADES. AS THE POOREST COUNTRY IN THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE, WITH A LONG HISTORY OF POLITICAL STRIFE, HAITI HAS NEVER BEEN STABLE. THIS MISSION WAS PLANNED LONG BEFORE JAN. 12 WHEN A 7.0 EARTHQUAKE ROCKED THE SOUTHERN PART OF THE COUNTRY.

AND WITH AN INFLUX OF PORT AU-PRINCE EARTHQUAKE REFUGEES TO THE MORE RURAL PARTS OF THE COUNTRY, DEMAND FOR HELP OUTSIDE OF THE CAPITAL CITY IS EXPECTED TO GROW EVEN MORE.

HARDING UNIVERSITY’S NURSING SCHOOL HAS A LONG TRADITION OF SENDING TEAMS OF STUDENTS TO HAITI AND OTHER THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES OVER SPRING BREAK TO HOLD CLINICS. UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS FOR MEDICAL SCIENCES STUDENTS ALSO JOINED THIS YEAR’S VENTURE TO PRACTICE WHAT THEY’VE LEARNED.

“THE BIGGEST THING THEY LEARN IS NOT TO BE AFRAID TO MAKE A DECISION,” SAID DR. BOB LAWRENCE OF NOME, ALASKA. “IT’S HAVING CONFIDENCE IN KNOWING WHAT THEY KNOW.”

ON SATURDAY, THE CLINIC WAS HELD AT THE PROJECT’S FARM AT BOIS MARCHAND, WHERE RESIDENTS WAITED IN LINE FOR HOURS TO SEE THE DOCTORS IN THE MANGO GROVE. ON SUNDAY, IT MOVED TO THE HEART OF GONAIVES.

“WE HAVE MORE STUDENTS THIS YEAR THAN USUAL AND THAT IS A GOOD THING,” SAID DR. HANK FARRAR, A LITTLE ROCK PEDIATRICIAN, AS HE WATCHED A STUDENT WORK WITH A HAITIAN GIRL. “THAT MEANS MORE IN THE FUTURE.”

HAITIANS OF ALL AGES PACKED THE CHURCH OF CHRIST IN GONAIVES ON SUNDAY AND SPILLED OUT THE DOOR ONTO THE STEPS. THEY WOULD BE LET IN WHEN ROOM OPENED.

WHILE WAITING FOR DOCTORS AND DENTISTS, THE PATIENTS WATCHED A VIDEO PUT TOGETHER BY HARDING UNIVERSITY IN SEARCY AND BROADCAST ON PORTABLE TVS PROVIDED BY THE HAITI CHRISTIAN DEVELOPMENT PROJECT ABOUT SAFE FOOD PREPARATION AND HOW TO DISINFECT WATER FOR DRINKING. WATER FROM COMMUNITY WELLS IS READILY AVAILABLE, BUT MUCH OF IT IS NOT SAFE TO DRINK.

“IT’S A GOOD THING TO COME DOWN AND HELP PEOPLE,” FARRAR SAID.

MORE THAN 50 VOLUNTEERS AND STUDENTS ARE HERE THIS WEEK WORKING ON THE PROJECT’S FARM AND ADMINISTERING CLINICS.

THE CLINICS ARE VERY BASIC; BLOODY INSTRUMENTS ARE STERILIZED WITH SCRUB BRUSHES IN COLD DISINFECTANT LIQUID AND QUICKLY READY FOR REUSE.

CAITLIN MCKUIN, A HARDING NURSING STUDENT, WORKED ON THE DENTAL INSTRUMENTS AT THE MANGO GROVE SATURDAY AS THEY CONTINUED TO PILE UP FROM THE THREE DENTISTS PULLING TEETH.

“EVERYTHING IS NEW AND INTERESTING,” SHE SAID. IT WAS THE SECOND DAY OF HER FIRST TRIP TO HAITI.

HER GLOVED HANDS SCRUBBED A CHISEL JUST USED TO LOOSEN THE ROOTS OF A BROKEN TOOTH.

AT THE FENCE SEPARATING THE CLINIC AT THE FARM FROM THE LINE, DESPERATE HANDS GRABBED FOR TREATMENT CARDS.

ANTIBIOTICS, DEWORMING MEDICINE AND EYEGLASSES ARE IN HIGH DEMAND HERE. HOOKWORMS ARE ENDEMIC IN HAITI, AND MANY CHILDREN HAVE SWOLLEN BELLIES, A SURE SIGN OF INTESTINAL WORMS PICKED UP FROM THE SOIL.

OPHTHALMOLOGISTS GAVE EYE EXAMS BY THE FENCE LINE, WHERE THE EYE CHART WAS TACKED TO A TREE. A BROOM LAY ON THE GROUND MARKING THE PLACE TO STAND WHILE READING THE CHART. HUNDREDS OF EYEGLASSES WERE HANDED OUT, A LUXURY IN THIS VERY POOR NATION.

GONAIVES, ABOUT 70 MILES UP THE COAST FROM PORT-AU-PRINCE, FELT THE EARTHQUAKE BUT WAS LARGELY UNAFFECTED. IT IS STILL STRUGGLING TO RECOVER FROM HURRICANE IKE IN 2008, WHICH FLOODED THE ENTIRE CITY. SOME HOMES STILL BEAR WATER MARKS 12 FEET HIGH. MUD FROM THE CLEARCUT MOUNTAINS THAT RISE TO THE EAST WASHED OVER THE CITY, TAKING OUT ROADS AND HOUSES.

THE HAITI CHRISTIAN DEVELOPMENT PROJECT FARM IS STILL RECOVERING FROM THE DEVASTATION AS WELL.

AT SATURDAY’S CLINIC AT THE FARM, MORE THAN 150 PEOPLE WAITED IN LINE FOR CARE. THEY DIDN’T MIND WAITING, BECAUSE THE ONLY DOCTOR THEY CAN AFFORD TO SEE IS FREE.

THE AVERAGE DAILY SALARY FOR A HAITIAN IN THE GONAIVES AREA IS ABOUT 40 HAITIAN GOURDES A DAY, THE EQUIVALENT OF ABOUT ONE U.S. DOLLAR.

AME’ SETOUTE WAITED FOR TWO HOURS FOR AN EYE EXAM IN THE MANGO GROVE.

“YOU HAVE TO HAVE A LOT OF MONEY TO SEE A DOCTOR HERE,” HE SAID. “SO I WAIT.”

“WE ARE PATIENT,” SMILED FIGARO WILNER, SETOUTE’S NEIGHBOR IN LINE.

THE HOSPITALS IN HAITI ARE FUNDED BY THE GOVERNMENT, BUT THEY ARE SHORT STAFFED AND LIMITED. AND DOCTORS STILL COST MONEY.

“IF WE DON’T HAVE THE MONEY, WE DON’T GO,” SAID BEAU BONNOIR. “WE STAY SICK UNTIL FREE CLINICS COME.”

AN ELDERLY MAN SAT IN A CHAIR BY A BREAK IN THE FENCE, WAITING FOR A DOCTOR TO SEE HIM. HE HAD BEEN MOVED TO THE FRONT OF THE LINE WHEN HE BEGAN REGURGITATING PURE LIQUID, SOAKING HIS PANTS AND TURNING THE DIRT TO MUD. HIS FAMILY PROPPED HIM UP AND HELPED HIM TO THE FOLDING CHAIR NEXT TO LAWRENCE, THE DOCTOR FROM ALASKA.

LAWRENCE CALLED FOR ONE OF THE BOXES USED TO HAUL SUPPLIES THAT DAY TO BE BROKEN DOWN AND SPREAD OVER THE DIRT AND THE CHAIR TO PROP UP THE MAN’S BARE FEET. HIS BLOOD PRESSURE DIPPED SO LOW THAT HE HAD BECOME INCOHERENT. HE COULDN’T SPEAK OR LIFT HIS ARMS.

NURSES MIXED UP A REHYDRATION SOLUTION USING AN ELECTROLYTE POWDER IN BOTTLED WATER AND FED HIM DROPFULS AT A TIME. WITHIN THE HOUR HIS BLOOD PRESSURE WAS RISING, AND HE SAT UP. TWO HOURS LATER THE DOCTORS DROVE HIM HOME, AND HE WALKED UNDER HIS OWN POWER WITH A PLASTIC BAG FULL OF ANTIBIOTICS AND ORDERS TO REHYDRATE.

THEY WILL CHECK ON HIM AGAIN TUESDAY.

“WHAT WE SUSPECT IS THAT HE HAD SOME SORT OF INFECTION,” LAWRENCE SAID. “THE BODY GOES INTO SHOCK AT A CERTAIN POINT.”

THE MAN WAS ON THE VERGE OF SEPSIS, A DEATH SENTENCE. IF HE HAD WALKED INTO A HOSPITAL IN THE UNITED STATES, THEY WOULD HAVE STARTED AN IV TO REHYDRATE AND FIGHT THE INFECTION. THAT IS NOT AN OPTION HERE. IT IS PURE MEDICAL INSTINCT AND PROBLEM SOLVING AT THESE CLINICS WHERE FLASHLIGHTS ARE USED TO ILLUMINATE OPEN MOUTHS FOR DENTISTS AND TESTS ARE NOT POSSIBLE.

“YOU HAVE TO TREAT THEM BY SYMPTOM, YOU KNOW,” SAID DEE ANN MARTIN, A PEDIATRIC NURSE PRACTITIONER FROM ARKANSAS CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL.

TWINS SHARED A CHAIR IN FRONT OF HER AS THEIR FATHER EXPLAINED HIS WORRIES.

THE LITTLE GIRL KEPT HER ARM DRAPED OVER HER BROTHER’S SHOULDERS AS MARTIN LOOKED AT HIM. SHE UNBUTTONED HIS SHIRT TO REVEAL A SWOLLEN BELLY. HE INCHED CLOSER TO HIS SISTER AND LOOKED AT MARTIN WITH WIDE, FRIGHTENED EYES.

SHE PLACED HER STETHOSCOPE ON HER HAND AND THEN THE BOY’S LEG. SHE LOOKED AT HIM AND MOVED IT TO HIS HAND. AS HE RELAXED A BIT, SHE MOVED IT TO HIS CHEST AND LISTENED.

VITAMINS AND DEWORMING MEDICINE WAS THE ORDER. AND LOTS OF WATER.

HE CLIMBED OFF THE CHAIR AND RAN TO HIS FATHER AS HIS SISTER SLID OVER AND DESCRIBED TO THE TRANSLATOR THE CLASSIC SYMPTOMS OF A URINARY TRACT INFECTION. MARTIN PRESCRIBED ANTIBIOTICS AND GAVE INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO PROPERLY WASH TO HELP AVOID SUCH ISSUES.

“MERCI,” MARTIN SAID TO THE LITTLE BOY - “THANK YOU,” IN FRENCH - AND SHOOK HIS HAND. SHE REPEATED THE GESTURE WITH HIS SISTER WHO PROMPTLY LEANED OVER AND KISSED MARTIN ON THE CHEEK.

THOSE ARE THE MOMENTS THAT BRING THESE DOCTORS BACK YEAR AFTER YEAR.

GUY WADE OF LITTLE ROCK SPENT HIS TIME ASSISTING THE DENTISTS.

A RETIREE OF THE VETERANS AFFAIRS HOSPITAL IN LITTLE ROCK, WADE HAS MADE THREE OF THESE TRIPS IN RECENT YEARS.

“I JUST HELP OUT WHERE I CAN,” HE SAID. “I CARRY AWAY A SENSE OF GRATITUDE BY BEING ABLE TO HELP OTHERS. IT BRINGS ME BACK TO REALITY, REMINDS ME TO BE THANKFUL FOR WHAT I HAVE.”

THIS ARTICLE WAS PUBLISHED MARCH 8, 2010 AT 4:37 A.M.

FRONT SECTION, PAGES 1 ON 03/08/2010

 


NEEDY STRAIN HAITIAN AID PROJECTS

CAN’T DO IT FOREVER, LR DOCTOR SAYS AS HOMELESS, HUNGRY STREAM IN

BY AMY SCHLESING

Gonaives residents are seeing an influx of people moving to the city who lost their homes and jobs after an earthquake devastated Port-Au-Prince two months ago.

PHOTO BY BENJAMIN KRAIN

GONAIVES RESIDENTS ARE SEEING AN INFLUX OF PEOPLE MOVING TO THE CITY WHO LOST THEIR HOMES AND JOBS AFTER AN EARTHQUAKE DEVASTATED PORT-AU-PRINCE TWO MONTHS AGO.

GONAIVES, HAITI — GOSUE SUETE ESCAPED THE DESTRUCTION AFTER THE JAN. 12 EARTHQUAKE DEMOLISHED HIS HOME IN PORT-AU-PRINCE BY HEADING NORTH TO STAY WITH FRIENDS.

HE IS NOW ONE OF MORE THAN 50 PEOPLE LIVING IN GUESTON PACIUS’ ONE-ROOM HOUSE HERE, WHERE BUNK BEDS AND MATS COVER THE FLOOR AT NIGHT AND STACK HIGH AGAINST A WALL DURING THE DAY, GIVING EVERYONE A PLACE TO SLEEP WITH MORE ROOM IN TWO LARGE TENTS OUT BACK.

SOME WERE STRANGERS TO THE PACIUS FAMILY AND SOME WERE FRIENDS. THEY ARE ALL CONNECTED BY A SMALL NETWORK OF CHURCH OF CHRIST MEMBERS.

“I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’LL DO. I DON’T KNOW IF I’LL GO BACK,” SUETE SAID.

HIS SMILE COMES EASY UNTIL HE THINKS OF HIS BROTHER AND EXTENDED FAMILY LIVING ON THE STREETS OF THE CAPITAL CITY. HE WAS A PHOTOGRAPHER AND VIDEOGRAPHER BEFORE THE QUAKE. BUT ALL OF HIS EQUIPMENT WAS LOST, WHICH PUT AN END TO HIS BUSINESS.

PACIUS, A HAITIAN, IS THE DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR FOR THE HAITI CHRISTIAN DEVELOPMENT PROJECT, BASED IN LITTLE ROCK. THE ORGANIZATION BUILT HIS HOME FOR HIM AND IS FOOTING THE BILL FOR FEEDING THE REFUGEES WHO CONTINUE TO SHOW UP.

“WE WON’T BE ABLE TO DO IT FOREVER,” SAID DR. DAVID SMITH, A LITTLE ROCK CARDIOLOGIST AND FOUNDER OF THE HAITI CHRISTIAN DEVELOPMENT PROJECT. “IT WOULD DEPLETE ALL OF OUR FUNDS. WE HAVE TO FIGURE OUT WHAT DO.”

MORE THAN 115 PEOPLE ARE SEEKING REFUGE IN VARIOUS HOMES AND CHURCHES ASSOCIATED WITH SMITH’S GROUP AROUND GONAIVES. THE COST OF FOOD PER PERSON PER DAY IS $4.86, ACCORDING TO SMITH - WHICH EQUATES TO $559 A DAY AND MORE THAN $200,000 ANNUALLY.

THE HAITI CHRISTIAN DEVELOPMENT PROJECT HAS A THRIVING PROGRAM WHICH GRANTS BUSINESS OWNERS LOANS FROM $200TO $4,000 WITH 4 PERCENT INTEREST. HALF OF THE INTEREST EARNINGS GO BACK INTO THE LOAN PROGRAM, AND THE OTHER HALF ARE PLACED IN A SAVINGS ACCOUNT AS A FORCED SAVING PLAN FOR THE PARTICIPANT.

THE PROGRAM HAS BEEN SO SUCCESSFUL IN BUILDING SMALL BUSINESSES THAT HEALING HANDS INTERNATIONAL, ANOTHER HUMANITARIAN ORGANIZATION THAT HELPS DEVELOPING COUNTRIES BY PROVIDING CLEAN WATER AMONG OTHER THINGS, IS LOOKING TO START A SIMILAR PROGRAM.

IDEALLY, SMITH WOULD LIKE TO ADD THE 115 REFUGEES ASSOCIATED WITH HIS ORGANIZATION AND THE CHURCH OF CHRIST AND ANOTHER 115 NONRELATED HAITIANS TO THE 365 PEOPLE WHO HAVE RECEIVED ABOUT $80,000 IN LOANS SINCE 2004.

“AND THAT’S JUST THE BEGINNING OF THE JOB,” HE SAID.

BUT NOTHING IS EASY IN HAITI.

A CONTAINER OF FOOD AND RELIEF SUPPLIES SHIPPED BY THE JUDSONIA CHURCH OF CHRIST WAS STUCK IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC UNTIL A NONGOVERNMENTAL AGENCY ASSOCIATED WITH THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE GOT AN ESCORT TO BRING IT OVER THE BORDER TAXFREE. TWO MORE CONTAINERS OF FOOD AND SUPPLIES FROM HEALING HANDS INTERNATIONAL ARE STUCK IN A HAITIAN PORT AWAITING PAYMENT OF $4,000 IN IMPORT TAXES EACH. BUT IN HAITI EVEN TAXES ARE NEGOTIABLE.

SMITH SAID HIS WEEK-LONG TRIP DOESN’T ALLOW ENOUGH TIME FOR NEGOTIATING, SO THE CONTAINERS OF MUCH-NEEDED TENTS, FOOD AND MEDICAL SUPPLIES WILL SIT UNUSED A WHILE LONGER. PACIUS WILL USE HIS NETWORK TO TRY TO EXPEDITE RELEASE OF THE CONTAINERS IN THE NEXT FEW WEEKS, WHILE CONTINUING TO CARE FOR HIS MORE THAN 50 REFUGEE ROOMMATES. HAITIAN CUSTOMS HAS BEEN KNOWN TO DELAY THE RELEASE OF IMPORTS FOR MONTHS.

“WE ARE ALL GRATEFUL FOR PACIUS. HE HAS TAKEN US IN AS FAMILY,” SUETE SAID. “WE ARE TRYING TO DO OUR BEST. WE ARE HAPPY. LIFE KEEP ON.”

THOUSANDS OF PORT-AU-PRINCE RESIDENTS HAVE FLED TO THE HOUSES OF RELATIVES IN THE COUNTRY. THE GOVERNMENT IS TRYING TO ENCOURAGE MORE TO GO BY OFFERING LAND FOR PEOPLE TO BUILD THEIR OWN TENT CITIES OUT OF TOWN.

SOME RESIDENTS DON’T WANT TO LEAVE THEIR HOMETOWN. THERE IS LESS WORK OUTSIDE THE CITY. AND THOSE LIVING ONLAND OFFERED BY THE GOVERNMENT HAVE YET TO RECEIVE ANY INTERNATIONAL AID.

A CITY HAS EMERGED ON THE HILL AT THE MAIN TURNOFF FOR PORT-AU-PRINCE FROM THE ROAD TO GONAIVES. HAITIANS POUND TREE BRANCHES INTO THE GROUND TO MAKE FRAMES FOR HOMES. SHEETS, TARPS AND SCRAP METAL ARE TRADED LIKE GOLD HERE.

AT THE ROADWAY, THE RESIDENTS OF THIS TENT CITY THEY’VE NAMED OVESEC PAINTED A SIGN IN RED, HOPING TO CATCH THE EYE OF AN AID AGENCY.

THE SIGN SAID, “WE NEED HELP,” WITH AN ARROW POINTING TO THE CLUSTER OF MORE THAN 500 TENTS.

THE LAND WAS A DUMP BEFORE THE EARTHQUAKE. THE RESIDENTS MUST SCRAPE AWAY TRASH BEFORE BUILDING THEIR SHELTERS.

KENSIL LUBIE POUNDED A TREE LIMB INTO THE GROUND AND SECURED ITS BASE WITH ROCKS HE HAULED DOWN FROM THE MOUNTAIN.

“HOW LONG WILL MY FAMILY BE HERE? I DON’T KNOW,” HE SAID.

HIS FAMILY OF SIX WILL SHARE THE 10-FEET BY 10-FEET SHELTER WHEN HE IS DONE BUILDING IT FROM SCRATCH. IT IS A MUCH DIFFERENT HOME THAN THE TWO ROOM CONCRETE HOME WITH PLUMBING HE WATCHED CRUMBLE IN THE QUAKE.

JUST UP THE ROAD, HUGE USAID AND UNICEF CAMPS FEED AND CARE FOR THOUSANDS. BUT NOT EVEN ONE MEAL HAS BEEN OFFERED TO OVESEC.

“WE HAVE TO MAKE OUR HOMES HERE, WE HAVE NO CHOICE. THE CAMPS ARE FULL,” LUBIE SAID. “THIS WILL NOT LAST FOREVER. I THINK GOD WON’T LET THAT HAPPEN.”

NATHANIEL LAURENT AND PASTOR JOSEPH VALLE ARE THE UNOFFICIAL MAYORS OF THIS HAMLET. THEY HAVE SET UP A TENT AS A TOWN HALL, WHERE GALYN SAINT COER, A FELLOW REFUGEE AND NURSE IS READILY AVAILABLE TO AID THE SICK. THEY HAVE HOPES OF BUILDING A TENT CHURCH AND DIGGING LATRINES.

“EVERYBODY HAS PUT THEIR HEADS TOGETHER AND MADE IT HAPPEN,” LAURENT SAID. “EVERY DAY WE GROW MORE AND MORE. WE DON’T KNOW WHEN IT WILL END.”

BUT RIGHT NOW, WHAT THEY NEED MOST IS FOOD AND WATER.

INTERNATIONAL AID AGENCIES PASS BY THIS INTERSECTION EVERY DAY, HAULING RELIEF SUPPLIES HERE AND THERE. DESPITE THE SIGN, NO ONE HAS STOPPED IN OVESEC.

“I AM WORRIED ABOUT ILLNESS,” SAINT COER SAID. “WE HAVE NO TOILETS, NO CLEAN WATER.”

BUT A SENSE OF COMMUNITY AMONG THESE HUNDREDS OF FAMILIES IS THRIVING. THEY HELP EACH OTHER COOK AND BUILD. CHILDREN FLY KITES ON THE HILLSIDE.

BACK AT PACIUS’ HOUSE, WOMEN SCRUBBED LAUNDRY IN TWO LARGE BUCKETS OF SOAPY BLUE WATER AS SEVERAL MEN MADE THE ROUNDS TO FEED THE CHICKENS, TURKEYS, RABBITS AND DOVES.

“IT’S A SACRIFICE, YES,” SAID LINDA PACIUS, GUESTON’S WIFE. “ALL OF THEM ARE CHURCH MEMBERS. WE SEE PEOPLE AND ACCEPT THEM AS FAMILY AND EVERYONE IS ONE. WE DO NOT HAVE MUCH SPACE, BUT THEY ARE SAFE AND SECURE HERE FOR AS LONG AS THEY NEED US.”

SMITH HOPES TO GET TENTS FOR THE FARM PACIUS MANAGES AND USES TO TEACH AGRICULTURAL SKILLS FOR THE HAITIAN CHRISTIAN DEVELOPMENT PROJECT SO REFUGEES CAN LIVE WHERE THEREIS SPACE AND ROOM FOR PLANTING.

HUNDREDS OF SMALL ORGANIZATIONS LIKE SMITH’S HAVE BEEN WORKING IN HAITI FOR YEARS. AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE, MONEY POURED IN TO BIG AGENCIES SUCH AS THE RED CROSS AND U.N. DISASTER RELIEF FUND.

RELIEF WORKERS FROM AROUND THE WORLD - CANADA, BRAZIL, INDIA AND THE UNITED STATES - ARE ALL WORKING IN THE EARTHQUAKE STRICKEN AREA. AND DONATIONS FROM PRIVATE CITIZENS OUTNUMBERED CORPORATE DONATIONS IN EARTHQUAKE AID.

INTERNATIONAL FOOD SHIPMENTS HAVE BEEN ESSENTIAL TO SUSTAIN THE MORE THAN 1 MILLION EARTHQUAKE REFUGEES.

AMERICANS HAVE DONATED MORE THAN $1 BILLION TO AID ORGANIZATIONS FOR EARTHQUAKE RELIEF, ABOUT HALF OF THE $2.2 BILLION RAISED WORLDWIDE. ACCORDING TO THE U.N., PRIVATE DONATIONS ACCOUNT FOR THE MAJORITY OF U.S. DONATIONS.

AID MONEY IS LOST IN THE HAITIAN GOVERNMENT AND IS SLOW TO MAKE IT TO THE CITIES AND PEOPLE. AND THE NEED IS SO GREAT THAT ONLY A FRACTION OF THE TENT CITIES AND HOMELESS EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS ARE RECEIVING AID.

HAITIAN PRESIDENT RENE PREVAL SAID IN A NEWS CONFERENCE MONDAY IN FRONT OF THE RUINS OF HIS PRESIDENTIAL PALACE THAT HE PLANS TO ASK PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA DURING A MEETING WEDNESDAY IN WASHINGTON, D.C., TO STOP FOOD AND WATER SHIPMENTS TO HIS DEVASTATED COUNTRY, REUTERS INTERNATIONAL REPORTED.

“IF THEY CONTINUE TO SEND US AID FROM ABROAD - WATER AND FOOD - IT WILL BE IN COMPETITION WITH THE NATIONAL HAITIAN PRODUCTION AND HAITIAN COMMERCE,” HE SAID.

HAITIANS WERE ALREADY DISTRUSTFUL OF PREVAL, EVEN BEFORE HIS COMMENTS MONDAY.

“LOOK AT THAT, THE HIGHWAY,” SAID ESTIL ETERICE, POINTING TO THE CRUMBLING TWO-LANE ROAD IN FRONT OF HIS SHOP, THE MAIN HIGHWAY IN HAITI, AS HE COMPLAINED ABOUT OFFICIAL CORRUPTION. “THEY TAKE THE MONEY AND PUT IT IN THEIR POCKET.”

ON SUNDAY, A GROUP OF MEN GATHERED IN THE SHADE OF A BALCONY AT A BRIGHTLY PAINTED BARBER SHOP AT GONAIVES AS PACKED THE CHURCH OF THE NAZARENE ACROSS THE STREET CONTINUED ITS RAUCOUS SERVICE.

“WE DON’T HAVE A COUNTRY,” ETERICE SAID. “WE DON’T HAVE ANY FAITH ANYMORE.”

HE BECAME MORE ANIMATED AS HE SPOKE, WITH WILD GESTURES AND A RISING VOICE. THE MEN AROUND HIM SHOUTED THEIR AGREEMENT WITH CHEERS OF “OUI, OUI, OUI,” OR “YES” IN FRENCH.

“IF YOU HAVE ONE HAITIAN IN CHARGE, NO GOOD,” HE SAID. “PEOPLE MAKE THEIR OWN POLITICS. NONE OF THEM ARE RIGHT, ALL OF THEM ARE CROOKS.”

CHEERS CAME FROM THE GROUP WHEN ETERICE SAID HE WISHED A COUNTRY LIKE THE UNITED STATES WOULD TAKE OVER HAITI.

“UNIVERSITY, ZERO. WORK, ZERO. ROADS, ZERO. EDUCATION, ZERO. HOSPITAL, ZERO,” HE SAID. “JUSTICE EXISTS IN THE WORLD, BUT WE HAVE NONE HERE.”

THIS ARTICLE WAS PUBLISHED MARCH 9, 2010 AT 5:07 A.M.

FRONT SECTION, PAGES 1 ON 03/09/2010

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