Sunday, January 31, 2010

Folks continue to come to the Central Plateau

Loading the truck with goods and people, Friday, January 15th, the first trip from Port with quake victims

Some quick observations from Papay-Hinche.

More and more folks are coming into the area from Port au Prince. Today, Fenese, the MPP driver who works a lot with us in the Road to Life Yard-Moringa project, brought back fourteen more folks who will be staying here at MPP's national training center. I'm not sure of exactly how many folks from Port are hear right now, that MPP is directly supporting, but it is around 50, at least. This was the project truck's second trip from Port with quake victims, since January 12th. The first was Friday, January 15th. Other MPP vehicles have also been making sporadic trips.

Food is becoming a problem. Port is obviously not the easiest place to find food, and it was our region's main source for dry goods (rice, sugar, flour, oil, tomato paste, etc.), prior to the quake. The problem is also, of course, money. As more and more people in the area accept people from Port into their homes, their limited resources will get stretched beyond the normal impossible.

Chavannes noted in some observations that he made, that families will be forced to use the seeds they've saved for this year's growing season, to feed the extra mouths. This will lead to a second famine, when farmer's find it impossible to get the seeds they need for the this year's growing season.

MPP has a number of organizations waiting to send some funds to help, but there is also a bottleneck. Available dollars in the country are limited, at least in the private sector. Fonkoze is, an international organization which helps provide small loans at the grassroots level. It is apparently one of the best options right now for getting money transfer through. MPP has had an account with Fonkoze for several years now.

For those who have written me asking about Bigonet, just outside Leogane, in the mountains, friends there indicate that the loss of life in that area was minimal, thanks be to God. But most of the houses were flattened, or severely damaged. The Bon Nouvel Church was flattened, the Bon Nouvel School was severely damaged. Folks in general living in the Cormier area have almost all lost their homes and are living in any available open area, under sheets and tarps, when they can get them.

If you have a heart for this area, please check out . They have been working in the Cormier area for over twenty years. Mike Carlin, the director, was not in Haiti at the time of the quake, but he was able to make a lightening fast visit, to get pictures and some idea of the situation. He is back in the States working with Haiti Fund to put together a strategy that can help get folks back on their feet in the best way possible, as soon as possible.

I had the incredible opportunity to work with CODEP and the folks in the Cormier area of Leogane for about a year in 1997. There are people there who will be friends for the rest of my life.

Please continue to check out the PCUSA Haiti site for information about what's going on in Haiti

Carlos Cardenas, a PCUSA mission worker stationed in Nicaragua, came to work in Haiti these last two or three weeks, as a representative of PDA--Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. He spent two days working with MPP team members putting together a proposal for immediate assistance to at least 5,000 victims located throughout the Central Plateau, the Artibonite and the Northwest. The project also includes a request for funds to address the longer term recovery problems--increasing food production, helping students to get back to school, helping women who've lost their investments begin their small businesses again, and, always, always, working on protecting and improving Haiti's natural resources by planting trees.

Many of you already understand that disasters such as this do not create poverty, but they uncover it, lay it bare, impossible to ignore.

Plese continue to keep us in your prayers.

In Christ,

Mark, Jenny and Keila

Saturday, January 23, 2010

MPP Delmas 39

This is the MPP office on Delmas 39th.

Dear Friend,

Jenny and Keila and I are doing well. Thank you for your many e-mails, and for your prayers.

Here are some observations about how you can help, in addition to your prayers:

Please consider checking out Presbyterian Diaster Assistance. They are the arm of the Presbyterian Church which focuses on disaster situations. The do an excellent job of not only providing immediate emergency relief through dependable in-country organizations, they also focus on the longer term recovery effort. The website is:

Also, for ongoing news and information about relief work related to specific PCUSA partners in Haiti, as well as more general information, please check out the Haiti Network:

Finally, for individuals and churches who would like to support the work that Jenny and I are involved in, working with the PCUSA partner MPP--Mouvman Peyizan Papay (Farmer's Movement of Papaye), there are two options.

For the agricultural work I am involved in, which will not provide immediate relief, but will address the longer term issues of exacerbated hunger throughout the country:

Write the check for Presbyterian Church (USA)

Write the account number H000007 (H, five zeros, 7) and MPP-Road to Life Yard-Moringa project on the check.

Send it to PC(USA)

Individual Remittance Processing

P.O. Box 643700

Pittsburgh PA 15264-3700

To help support the work that Jenny is involved in, with MPP's health center follow the instructions on the website for MBF (Medical Benevolence Foundation):

The account number for MPP's health center is 530-445
Please include the reference: MPP's Integrated Health Center, "Mironda Heston"
Jenny's work with the health center directly affects the immediate needs of many of the folks streaming to the countryside from the devastated areas around Port au Prince, Leogane and Petit Goave. Hundreds are leaving Port au Prince daily, returning to their homes. Pressure on the fragile resources in the countryside will be heavily affected.
Please know that the best of what you have to offer are your prayers and your concerns. Knowing that we are not alone, that the world is willing to share part of the grief, is a relief.
In Christ,
Mark, Jenny and Keila

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Folks leaving Port au Prince on the highway going northeast, towards the Central Plateau. These folks are on their way up "Mon Kabrit"--Goat Mountain, east and a bit north of Croix de Bouquet.

People are pouring in to the Central Plateau from Port au Prince. The local public hospital is reportedly full of folks wounded in the quake, who one way or another made it here. There is a call for donations of blood, which I hope to answer tomorrow. Employees of MPP took up a collection yesterday to help the wounded. There is a call for food as well. The hospitals here are not generally set up to provide meals on a large scale, so families usually fill in the gaps. But these patients have no families.

Banks here are still closed, which is complicating things a bit. MPP's cash funds have been depleted, so they are running on gas fumes, as we used to say when Mom's car showed Empty on the gas gauge. Fortunately, MPP, and Haitians in the countryside in general, have had years of practice running on very little.

The two main cell phone services here are now working, more or less. Both have provided their users free minutes to help them make connections with their loved ones.

Jenny and I are running a little low on readily available cash, but this morning, a neighbor let me know that he can help us out when our supply is really gone.

In general, Jenny and I are doing well, but we are trying to know how to react. We still have our regular work, which definitely is important, but that's not easy to measure right now, on the scale of what has happened.

We also talk with friends, ask what news they have. Many folks do have news. It is a difficult question to ask, but a joy when the answer is "they made it!" Hard to deal with when the answer is "we don't kow."

The people of Hinche, Papay, Bassin Zim, are grieving.

Probably the best we can do is do what we can wherever we can, and whenver we can, pray hard and pray often, and hope that our simple presence can somehow be part of our witness.

Food is not yet a problem, and the supply will probably not be a problem. Food and gas is making it over the border from the Dominican Republic. We put 8 gallons of Dominican diesel in the truck on Saturday. It cost us what we normally would pay for 16 gallons, but we were grateful for the security of having a bit of fuel.

The police are reportedly working on keeping food prices from skyrocketing. Word is that this past Saturday, they went around the marketplace and closed down shops who were charging exhorbitant prices.

That's the news for now. Please continue to keep all of Haiti in your prayers.

In Christ.

Mark, Jenny and Keila

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ti Jak, MPP, Port au Prince

"Ti Jak", a member of MPP who lives in Port au Prince. Ti Jak is a mechanic at the garage where most of MPP's vehicles are serviced. When I visited with him on Friday, he told us stories of using one of the vehicles being serviced at the garage to carry load after load of injured neighbors to the local police station, where they hoped to find medical aid.

Ti Jak also was responsible for saving one of the neighbors in a house next to MPP's office on Delmas 39.

The office was completely destroyed, but Ti Jak and several other members of MPP were able to get computers, chairs, printer, inverter, solar panels and some other office equipment out of the house a few days after the quake.

We've heard from friends from Leogane about 40 miles southwest of Port, where the situation is particularly bleak. Word is that most of the buildings in the city were destroyed. Outlying communities were also heavily affected, all up and down the mountain, although loss of life in the Cormier area was less than I feared. Friends up near the top of the mountain and other down in the valley all survived, although many lost their houses.

In Christ,

Mark, Jenny, Keila

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Haiti Quake--MPP and the Central Platuea

Hello again, friend.

The news about the earthquake here in the Central Plateau, where MPP (Mouvman Peyizan Papay--Farmer's Movement of Papay) is located, the news is, in the short term, considerably less dire than in Port au Prince. Here in Papaye-Bassin Zim, where Jenny, Keila and I live and work, there was no damage whatsover. We very much felt the quake Tuesday afternoon, a little before 5:00, as well as the four or five aftershocks during the night. But as far as we know, no houses and none of the MPP building were damaged at all. Nor have we heard of any landslides.

Chavannes, the director of MPP, was not in Port on Tuesday. He is here, leading a workshop on community development for community promoters who will become leaders within the organization. Chavannes wife, Nini, his daughter, Agathe and his grandchild were in Port, but reports are that they are fine. The house where Nini lives was apparently unaffected.

Moy, the director of operations for MPP in Port, was also uninjured, and the office off of Delmas 83, where he lives and works, was also undamaged.

MPP's other office which they share with the national farmer's organization MPNKP (Mouvman Peyizan Nasyonal Kongre Papay--the National Farmer's Movement with Congress in Papay) was totally destroyed. That is the Delmas 39 office, where I have sometimes stayed when I need to be in Port. It is also the home for a number of MPP-sponsored students studying in Port. Miraculously, there were no serious injuries. However, Caseus Chavanes, one of the leaders of a farmers organization outside of Les Cayes, lost his organization's truck, when it was crushed by the falling building. MPP also lost computers, printers and other office supplies, as well as supplies purchased in Port for projects with farmers in the Central Plateau. Caseus's organization does not have the funds to replace the truck. It is also unlikely that MPP will have the resources to replace the computers and printers lost.

Other issues for MPP and all of us here in the Central Plateau are many. The first and most important is the grief. Every single family in the Central Plateau has one or more family members living, working, studying in Port. Almost no one knows exactly how any one is doing right now. Cell phone service (the only reliable phone service we have), was knocked out shortly after the quake on Tuesday. This morning there are signs that the service is becoming operational again. As people begin getting the news, there will be a lot of grieving. Along with the grief, is the complication of how to get their people back home--those who have perished, to bury them, those who are injured and are homeless, to care for them.

The second issue which will soon be acute is one of food and fuel. All of our fuel and much of our food comes from or through Port au Prince. This is true for most of the country, in fact. As the supplies available right now are used up, where will we get the next batch? And how much will we have to pay for it? The growing season in 2009 was very short and complicated by too much rain at the beginning, and not enough at the end. Farmer's resources are already minimal. If one of the results of this disaster is that food prices shoot up again, as they did in 2008, there will be severe hunger, throughout the country.

There is a Haitian proverb that goes something like this: Dwet la blese, tout ko pran ve. A toe is wounded, and the whole body is attacked by worms.

Port au Prince has been deeply wounded. The whole country will be deeply affected.

Jenny and I have no answers for any of these problems. Just the reminder, that I felt, again, this morning while reading the Yearbook of Prayer, that our God is a God of hope, that despair has already been defeated, and now is the time to face what has happened and to act, act out of that hope and not out of despair. I don't have any idea what that will mean. But our God is up to the task. Pray for us, that we will also be up to the task.

Earthquake News


Thank you for your e-mails and notes of concern. I haven't even begun to read most of them, but I know they are there. And thank you especially for your prayers.

First of all, Jenny, Keila and I are fine. Keila is as cheerful and funny as ever, and more so every day.

As many of you know, Tuesday afternoon, Haiti was hit by a 7.0 quake, centered just west of downtown Port au Prince in the area called Carrefour. Based on reports on the radio, the images we are seeing on Internet, and the observations of some friends who were there, much of Port au Prince has been destroyed. Report after report has come in of major primary and secondary schools destroyed along with several Universities and some of the hospitals. The national palace, the parliament and several ministries have all collapsed or been heavily damaged. The center for the UN peacekeeping mission also collapsed, killing, among many others, the special envoy, a well-known leader from Tunsia. The national cathedral and many other churches were also destroyed or heavily damaged.

Carrefour, one of the many areas of Port au Prince where houses are built on top of houses, and alleyways are no wider than your two arms stretched out on each side, was, according to radio reports, completely destroyed.

Obviously, no one really knows the number of casualities. Many people remain trapped, alive, but with no access to water. I do not know the extent of heavy equipment available to begin removing debris and opening the way for rescue teams to enter, but I suspect that it is not enough. Even with heavy equipment readily available, so many of the neighborhoods are so tightly packed with houses, it would still be a monumental task. Without some saving grace, many of these folks may also perish.

That is the news as I know it of the situation in Port au Prince. You can probably find out much more from CNN and the internet.

It is unfortunate that I have let this blog sit with no news until now, when the news is so very sad. Thank you again for your prayers. Please continue praying for all of the families of the many victims, especially for those who are now waiting for resucue. Pray for everyone in Port au Prince and for all of Haiti.

I will post again in a few minutes with what I know of the situation with MPP.

In Christ.


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