Haiti: World Vision mobilises aid effort amidst devastation

News and Press Release
Originally published
Port-au-Prince, Friday, 15 January 2010 17:16

World Vision commenced emergency relief operations in Port-au-Prince with distributions of essential medical supplies to city hospitals. The distributions began on Wednesday, the day after the quake, and continued on Thursday, despite World Vision's own offices suffering heavy quake damage, the worst to hit Haiti in 200 years. World Vision's main office building was rendered unusable, but operations continued from a second building.

World Vision Landcruisers negotiated choked and rubble-strewn city streets to bring the aid. Dead bodies were piled up on sidewalks and residents of the city chipped away at collapsed buildings with crude tools in a desperate effort to free trapped relatives and loved ones. City hillsides were turned into a sea of rubble as buildings collapsed on top of one another domino style.

The aid to hospitals included surgical gloves, syringes, antibiotics, and bandages. The supplies were intended for World Vision's rural development programs but were reassigned to Port-au-Prince following the quake. At L'Hospital General in the downtown area, all patients were transferred outside the building, since most of its structures were completely destroyed and those left standing were unsafe. Patients lay on stretchers and beds in the hospital grounds and surrounding streets- many suffering from smashed limbs, and some awaiting amputation. Among the survivors was 18-month-old-Navensky Charlesover who suffered a broken shoulder, leg and arm before being rescued from his collapsing home by his father, Jerome.

Hospital manager Guy La Roche said the supplies were welcome as the hospitals own stocks were destroyed in the quake. But he added that the hospital's activities continued to be severely restricted due to a lack of running water and electricity. He hoped the government would soon restore services. However, the government has problems of its own. Just blocks away, the presidential palace and many government buildings, including the health ministry, are in ruins.

Adding to the hospital's woes were thousands of corpses dumped outside the overflowing city morgue next to the hospital. An excavator was scooping up the bodies and loading them into trucks. The stench wafted into the hospital grounds and surrounding streets.

Joining World Vision's relief effort were teachers from a local American school who volunteered to clean major wounds and attend to minor abrasions under the direction of doctors. Although non of the teachers had much medical experience, they pooled their knowledge from first-aid courses and learned from hospital medical staff.

World Vision's relief efforts will continue with the airlifting of further emergency supplies from the organization's warehouses in Denver and Panama. The supplies will include water purification tablets, hygiene kits, and cooking sets.

Dean Salisbury, a World Vision relief logistician reported, "Things are really getting bogged down and the ports in Haiti and subsequently the Dominican Republic are becoming bottlenecks. It looks like the US Military will be providing security and trying to get the ports open. The problem is the roads out of both the seaport and airport are all blocked. Nothing is moving until they get the interior roads open. Fuel at the airport is a huge problem, hence the restrictions of flight by the FAA."

In the meantime, flights scheduled out of World Vision's warehouses in Denver, Colo. and Panama City are grounded.

World Vision had relief items stored in Haiti in preparation for hurricane season and began distributing these yesterday, but the medical supplies, blankets, and tents and other supplies from its Petionville office have quickly run low. World Vision teams visited more than 10 hospitals in the Port-au-Prince area, handing out gauze, bandages, syringes, latex gloves and antibiotics. One aid worker, Dr. Isaac Mischaud, said that the local hospitals are not only running low on supplies, but on medical personnel as well. "Yesterday, we visited one hospital that normally has 10 doctors working there. That day, they had one doctor treating all of the patients," he said. A trained physician himself, Dr. Michaud spent last night providing medical treatment at one local open-air hospital, but he said the demands are overwhelming. "We are doing everything we can do right now, but there is more that needs to be done."

In the meantime, while staff have found it difficult to get phone and internet connections out of the country, some of World Vision's staff were able to get messages out: "Things are worse than they were yesterday. There are entire groups of people all over the city that are just roaming around and setting up camp anywhere they can. The main priority right now needs to be emergency shelter because they are blocking roads..."(Skype IM message from Magalie Boyer, Communications Manager,World Vision, Haiti)

"Much worse than expected. Bodies in the streets. Mass destruction, injured children. Some really bad. People receiving med treatment in the streets. Chaos. People digging out bodies all over PaP. Prayer and a lot of cash needed. (SMS message from veteran aid worker Steve Matthews, Communications Manager, World Vision's Global Rapid Response Team)

Update on Airlift

A flight from Denver International Airport is expected in Port-au-Prince today at 3.30 p.m. Haitian time. Total value of this stock is $75,000. The quantity of NFI's set to depart from Denver, Colorado:
1080 Tarps
2000 Blankets
960 Cook sets
1056 Hygiene Kits
5000 Collapsible Water Containers
Various Staff Support Items
This is enough relief supplies for 5000 beneficiaries.

The GPRN has a flight from its Panama City, Panama warehouse ready to depart but also on standby due to the airport closure in Port-au-Prince.

Items set to depart from Panama:

1,495 Tarps
1,200 Collapsible Water Containers
1,200 Shovels
4,350 Mosquito nets



World Vision Deutschland, Tel.: 06172 763-151 oder -153 oder -155

World Vision Deutschland e.V. ist ein christliches Hilfswerk mit den Arbeitsschwerpunkten nachhaltige Entwicklungszusammenarbeit, humanitäre Hilfe und entwicklungspolitische Anwaltschaftsarbeit. Im Finanzjahr 2009 wurden 239 Projekte in 48 Ländern durchgeführt. World Vision Deutschland ist Teil der weltweiten World Vision-Partnerschaft. www.worldvision.de