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.