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Life in Haití after the earthquake

04/03/2010: Haiti

More than a month has passed since the terrible earthquake which struck Haití. Little by little, life is returning to normal, but the consequences of the catastrophe are very serious. The brothers, who have been doing great work among the people, have taken a moment of respite to send some information. “Communication by telephone and internet has been a little difficult for us from Latibolière. But today I went onto the internet and was surprised to find your message. The Brothers are fine, but our people are suffering a lot”. Thus Brother Antonio Cavazos begins his story on the internet.

He goes on to provide a rapid report in these terms:

We are already giving classes to all the pupils. The school was closed for a month. Then after an inspection by a local engineer, it was able to open its doors two weeks ago. The pupils are not accustomed to earthquakes and these phenomena make them panic. There are more pupils present than we had before, because we have taken in those coming from Puerto Príncipe. We are full up with pupils. Families will not be able to pay much of the fees in these months because they have to feed and look after the people who have arrived in their houses after fleeing from Puerto Príncipe.

Many of the houses which remain standing, and which were already small and insufficient for seven members of the family, have received 10 more. All the houses are dormitories. Some houses are very damaged and we are beginning to repair them with the aid we are receiving. We have purchased cement and building materials. I calculate that it will require 500 sacks of cement and some 10 big lorry loads of sand for the construction. Our older pupils have visited the houses and taken note of the damage, so that in this way they help us to reach everyone.

A major concern is to be able to feed them. We are buying rice, which is the normal food consumed around here, to distribute it among the houses which have an excess of inhabitants. We have already distributed 20 sacks and are about to distribute 30 more. But we do not know when this drama will end. For our part, we continue giving all the support we can. We are doing everything possible to serve our people.

Puerto Príncipe is receiving help from all parts, but it is needed for many people in the province without help, without resources, with nothing. Last Saturday, 12,000 arrived in the city of Jérémie, where we have the Postulancy. These people are looking for a place to live, for food and for work. Many are young people who were studying in the universities of the country and are left without study. We are trying to get something for them, as much as possible, to raise their spirits and give them hope.

Families are hospitable, they have opened their houses, very small even for those already living in them. Today they have squeezed in more, in order that the refugees find some lodging, on the dirt floor, in a corner, anywhere. There are few families who do not have someone who died in Puerto Príncipe. If food was lacking before, it is even worse now. We intend to meet with many of them, especially the youth, to see what we can do... plant seeds, open some workshops, work at something... We will see.

Thus the message from Brother Antonio Cavazos, who ends with a word of thanks for the help received from the Marist world.

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