Sunday, September 26, 2010

Storm in Haiti

Every day we check the National Hurricane Center website for new tropical storms and hurricanes, knowing that we'll at least have a few days to prepare the camps and their residents. With nothing on the radar, this afternoon we were taken by complete surprise when at 3:00 the sun was shining - at 3:05 the sky turned green and wind, rain, thunder and lightning like I have never experienced anywhere before hit.

The wind sheered many of the few big trees that are left in Port au Prince, landing on streets, buildings, and tents. Worse yet, it blew tents and new shelters apart like they were made of paper towels. One of the camps in which we work lost 80% of the tents and structures and we lost many common area buildings in another camp.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Most days in Haiti you can see joy on the faces of children or hear the giggles and shouts of fun. When you look closer you can see they are very creatively playing with plastic bags tied to sticks, plastic bottles as footballs or using rocks for marbles. Thanks to the generosity of some students at the University of Minnesota and the ARC Children’s Program the kids at several of the camps American Refugee Committee manages are also able to enjoy beautiful, handmade kites.

The ARC Children’s Program at Terrain Acra currently has over 900 kids enrolled. The staff does an excellent job of keeping the kids busy with lots of activities including painting, singing, and dancing. I happened to be there on Friday and noticed the kites were out. Unfortunately there was no wind so there weren’t many kites flying but the kids didn’t seem to care. They were just excited about the possibility.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

(Photos: Top - A Rah-Rah band stages impromptu demonstration for Haitian presidential candidate;
Bottom - A visit by members of Congress to Old Military Camp, one of the camps managed by ARC)

It was quite a week for politics here in Port au Prince. 24 candidates are now registered for President - and once you're registered you are on the ballot. The last Presidential election had 68 candidates vying for the top spot. This week Wyclef Jean threw his hat into the mix which gnarled traffic for a full day with thousands wearing his party's t-shirt and celebrating by scrawling his message everywhere. The election is currently scheduled for November 28.

As you can imagine, the campaigning is quite creative with a need to reach the masses. One popular technique is to hire people that create impromptu Rah-Rah bands that march through the busiest streets at the most popular times, blocking traffic and becoming front and center in your universe, like the one shown here.

The other political aspect to the week was a visit from some Congressional members at one of our camps, Old Military Camp. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer led a bipartisan Congressional Delegation to Haiti for a day. Roscoe Bartlett, David Price, Yvette Clarke, Donna Edwards and Aaron Schock joined him. Melanie (in the center of the photo), who manages the Women’s and Children’s Protection Program for ARC in Haiti, was able to provide details about the work she and her team are doing.