Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti Earthquake

Absolute anarchy. That is what all of Haiti will be for weeks, perhaps months. Even after the chaos and choking cement dust has settled and the bodies have been cleared, the country of "Mountains Beyond Mountains" will never be the same.

I visited Haiti in 2006 and if you have not been there I don't know if I can describe the sense of darkness and hopelessness that smothers the country. There is very little infrastructure and much of the leadership there have become corrupt so the people are extremely distrustful of one another. It is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, AIDS has ravaged the country, the average Haitian eats 3-5 times a week, and mothers frequently make mud pies to feed their children just to fill their bellies for a little while. The capital city of any country is usually the richest and most beautiful a country has to offer, but Port-au-Prince would be described as "desperate" at best. That was before the earthquake that hit January 12th, 2010.

You may remember that two schools collapsed due to shoddy construction in Haiti in 2008 killing at least 93 children and injuring another 150+. After the first school disintegrated, the government assessed the housing and estimated that 60% or more of the structures in Haiti were in danger of the same type of collapse. The schools that came down, fell on still, quiet days. One collapsed was accredited in part to, "some students (that) were jumping and dancing in a musical." Dancing brought down the school.

The 7.0 earthquake that hit Port-au-Prince was the worst on record for Haiti and it is estimated to be the strongest earthquake that has hit the area in over 200 years. They have had over twenty-three, earthquake sized, aftershocks as I am writing this.

The earthquake destroyed everything from corrugated tin shanties and cement block buildings to the National Palace, which crumbled in on it's self, to the headquarters for the U.N. and at least one embassy.

Haiti is a country of 9 million people used to disaster in one form or another, but this is unprecedented and according to all reports, the loss of life is vast. People are wandering the streets injured, pleading for doctors in a country where there are few emergency services and the hospitals themselves are either collapsing or overcrowded.

One missionary who was in Port-au-Prince called CNN and said that, "All power is down, Port-au-Prince is in blackness and cries for help can be heard coming from the dark." I talked with a contact at ABC NEWS Tuesday night and the little information that they are receiving is heart wrenching.

This will not be the end. In the past, even the smallest glitch or political disagreement has left my aunt and uncle with out food to feed the orphans at Haiti Mercy Mission for days ( I fear for their safety and health in the coming months as dead bodies pile up and disease sweeps the country. Looting and robbery is common at the best of times and anarchy is not something that takes long to develop in Haiti.

PLEASE PRAY that what seems like a tragedy will be used of God to break the bonds of Vodou that are so entrenched in the lives of the people of Haiti and that in their desperation, people will turn to the only God who can save, both from present circumstances and from an eternity infinitely worse than anyone can imagine. Even in Haiti. One spent eternaly apart from Christ.

Quick Facts from my aunt & uncle (Jeanette and Frank McLaughlin) in Haiti:

Dr. Acene Jean Pierre and his wife Anne are the Haitian nationals that run the orphanage in Pignon, Haiti. The orphanage is up in the mountains, but they felt the earthquake.

Anne Jean Pierre and one of the oldest orphans Saisette (who is in nursing school in Port-au-Prince) were both IN Port-au-Prince at the time of the earthquake. We have not heard from them yet and are praying for their safety.

My aunt and uncle, who are at the orphanage now, spoke with my cousin and his wife via SKYPE and they are fine right now but are experiencing many strong aftershocks.

If you feel so led, you can donate to Haiti Mercy Mission at "ChipIn". ALL donations go towards aid and are tax-deductible!

Soli Deo Gloria,

Tavia Pitkanen


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