January 16, 2010, Port-au-Prince - World Vision relief workers, in a race against time to save lives in Haiti, got a boost as relief goods began arriving in Haiti's quake-ravaged capital city yesterday. Meanwhile, World Vision staff concern for Haiti's children continues to grow as they find more and more children separated from their parents.
Broken infrastructure a key challenge
Difficulties with broken infrastructure, limited airport capacity and concerns about potential security threats in Haiti slowed the delivery of humanitarian supplies to hard-hit areas in the first days after the quake. Even ambulances are in short supply, reported World Vision staff.
"The basics are the hardest," said Dave Toycen, president of World Vision Canada. "There was a mile-long line for gasoline. It's a logistical maze out here."
The security situation could change rapidly if shortages of food, water and other basic supplies reach a critical level, the agency warned.
With thousands in Port-au-Prince left homeless by destroyed or badly damaged houses, many are sleeping in the streets or at spontaneous settlements in public parks and other spaces. World Vision staff have seen people living in very unsanitary and hazardous conditions.
Supplies running low; resupply begins
World Vision, which has worked in Haiti more than 30 years, today reached an additional 1,000 families with relief items already stored in the country, but many urgent items such as clean water, medical supplies and emergency shelter resources were running low.
Toycen reported via Twitter: "Distributions are in full force - trying to reach as many people as possible. Still a steep curve to reach all those affected."
World Vision's supply chain is ramping up to bring in badly needed supplies. The first of a series of flights bringing emergency supplies for World Vision relief efforts in Haiti touched down in Port-au-Prince on Friday evening.
A Hercules C130 brought items such as hygiene kits, blankets, water containers, and shelter materials from World Vision's warehouse in Denver. The aid group is planning more flights this weekend from Panama City, Toronto, and an additional flight from Denver, bringing more supplies, including medicines, tents, and shovels to remove debris.
World Vision staff are finding alternatives to the congested
Port-au-Prince airport, including bringing supplies overland from airports and ports in the Dominican Republic, where the agency has a sizable presence.
Provide first aid
World Vision teams have distributed first-aid supplies to more than ten hospitals in the Port-au-Prince area. "Some volunteer teachers have been performing first aid for the past day or two to those who have been injured," reported Toycen. However, he fears many will die of their injuries if not tended to soon. "We are racing against the clock."
Many of the injured have started to develop gangrene because they did not receive timely and adequate medical care. Family members of patients are taking measures into their own hands since the hospital system is completely overwhelmed and suffering serious structural damages; one World Vision volunteer saw an amputation performed in the hallways of the general hospital using unhygienic tools. World Vision volunteers also have seen a severed foot become an amputated leg because the wounds were not sterilized.
Amputation tools and supplies to sterilize wounds are in short supply; World Vision anticipates a need for significant amounts of crutches and braces for earthquake amputees.
Children alone and at risk
World Vision has started to identify children who have become separated from their parents. The organization has expressed concern about the number of children who are leaving Port-au-Prince and walking into towns outside the city to find help. World Vision's Dominican Republic staff in the border town of Jimani are helping provide food, water, and medical care to hundreds of unaccompanied children who fled Port-au-Prince for the border, either alone or who became separated from parents along the way.
There were a significant number of children in orphanages prior to the disaster, and World Vision staff acknowledge that the earthquake certainly has created more orphans. Because the quake struck during school hours, there are hundreds of children who simply have not found their parents.
Donations to World Vision's Haiti Quake Response can be made by calling 888-56-CHILD, at www.worldvision.org, or by texting the word "GIVE" to 20222.
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