Archive for earthquake

Medical & Human Waste Risks Soar

Posted in Humanity, NEWS with tags , , , on February 22, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

Crumbled sewage systems have left the Haitian authorities with the problem of poor sanitation. Since last month’s earthquake both medical and human waste has been dumped into pits near tent camps. Public health is at risk of diseases ranging from severe diarrhea to cholera, typhoid, and shigellosis. Typhoid and shigellosis are contracted from contaminated food and water.

Tent camps were set up to accommodate the masses of people who were homeless after the earthquake. Some camps are without latrines or portable toilets. Donated latrines in other areas have overflowed due to light rain. Rain is expected to increase in the following months.

Added donations of 10,000 latrines and portable toilets, only partially addresses the problem. Jessica Barry, spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, says there is a need for “a way to remove the excrement.”

Currently, trucks dump the waste and garbage into pits to be burned. Some trucks have been seen dumping before getting to the pits. Sadly, some desperate people have scavenged the area. “There is food to be found here, and sometimes wood to cook with, ” one boy said.

Photo by Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Five Ways to Help

Posted in Awareness, Latin America with tags , , on January 30, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

Disasters such as the earthquake that divested Port-au-Prince, on January 20, 2010, create an immediate need that the compassionate heart wants to fill. Telethons, benefits, and other fund raising organizations respond quickly. How can you and I help? Bascombe J. Wilson, Emergency Response Director of DERA International recommends five ways to help disaster victims.

1. Cash donations allow relief agencies to purchase the supplies that are needed. It is best not to try to guess what might be useful, giving cash expedites critical needs. Un-needed shipments will slow down the handling of needed shipments.
2. Confirm what items are needed. If you are for example, a bottle water supplier and are able to donate water, confirm with an active agency in the area that water is needed before shipping. Chances are that water, or other such resources, are not needed.
3. Donate only items that are requested. Keep in mind that warehousing unneeded donations costs relief agencies.
4. Volunteer your skills. Relief agencies are looking for qualified volunteers such as doctors, nurses, firefighters, morticians, engineers, and police officers. Join a training program for Community Emergency Response Teams. You will be prepared when the next disaster hits.
5. Help long term recovery and restoration efforts. Contact local relief agencies and get involved.

Photo provided by World Vision

Emergency Aid

Posted in Humanity, NEWS with tags , , on January 29, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

January 20, 2010 It was a heart-stopping moment this morning when a powerful aftershock just after 6 a.m. had me making a hasty exit out of my hotel. I was soon joined by the rest of the World Vision staff, mostly in pajamas.

Once we had recovered our breath, the conversation quickly turned to how many more fragile buildings might have been brought down. The whole aftershock maybe lasted six or seven seconds. I’m writing at 6.30 a.m. and my heart is still pumping quite hard. It’s certainly the biggest quake I’ve ever been in, but I imagine it’s peanuts for others.

You can’t help feeling the people of Port-au-Prince could use a break. Yesterday, I spoke to a man named Rosmond at one of the city’s hospitals, where World Vision was delivering medical supplies. He was holding his bandaged-up son, but he had actually come to visit his daughter, who was lying on a stretcher, wrapped in multiple bloodied bandages. She had been trapped in a church building for two days before being rescued.

But it was Rosmond’s story that struck me on this occasion. He and his wife and 8-year-old son have been living on the street since the quake, sleeping on plastic sheets. He has been using the cash he had on him to buy food and water. That morning, his money had run out. It was about 3 p.m., and he and his family had not eaten all day.

In one sense, though, he was remarkably lucky. His home was built on a hillside, and he was the only one at home when the quake struck. His wife was at work and his son at a neighbor’s house. Seconds before the quake hit, he went to the outhouse. It will probably be the most fortuitous call of nature of his life. As he stepped outside, the quake hit. Three houses slid down the hillside, crashed into his home, and demolished it. Rosmond and the outhouse remained standing.

Donate to World Vision relief efforts in Haiti.

Story and photo provided by World Vision

Clearing the Streets

Posted in Humanity with tags , , on January 20, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

Two days of decaying bodies lying in the streets presented health hazards for those who survived the earthquake that hit Port-au-Prince, Haiti on Wednesday, January 13, 2010. The sad solution came when dump trucks carried the dead to mass graves. Sad not only due to the devastation of the numbers of lives lost, but also because deceased people were treated as the rumble. Deceased mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers will never be identified. Deceased children of the Haiti will simply be counted as lost; lost to the devastation of an earthquake; lost to poverty.

Televangelist Pat Robertson seems to equate wanting the same rights that Thomas Jefferson called for in the Declaration of Independence with making packs with the devil. He flippantly talked about the Haitian history by saying they “were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and whatever . . .” He claimed “they got themselves free by making a pack with the devil.” Is the concept of humanity so lost that natural disasters are punishment for wanting a sovereign government?

Some say that war, natural disasters, and illness are needed to control Earth’s population. Most of the world disagrees! Support for victims of these types of catastrophes is evidence of the hearts of many. When you see the bodies of people piled one on top of another, you have to have a cold heart not to be humbled. If we cannot humble ourselves in empathy, then let a sight such as that put a fire in us to help. When we lose sight of humanity scenes of disasters, natural or not, become far too common. And we will not be moved by bulldozers clearing the streets of the dead.

Photo by Damon Winter/The New York Times