West Tennessee Haiti Partnership

Letter from Bill Squire After Recent Trip to Haiti

Haiti Trip Report
February 24 – March 1, 2010
I know that we are all being inundated with information about Haiti. Yet, I feel compelled to communicate to the members of the Board of Directors of CMMH (and a few others) information gleaned from my recent trip to the Diocese of Haiti. Margaret joined me on this venture and again we had to go through the Dominican Republic. I won’t bore you with the details of our trip; suffice it to say that we were successful in getting in and out of Haiti through the DR without incident (Margaret might not totally agree with that last statement!).
The children who remain under the care of Father Sadoni are being well cared for on the old seminary campus in Montrouis. We visited with them (that is where we slept for our time in Haiti) and found them in good spirits; they have a prayer meeting every night under the stars, and a service of Holy Eucharist each Sunday afternoon. They of course want to be “home,” but are doing fine. There are ten members of the staff with the children, and Father Sadoni is planning on transporting a few teachers there each day to begin some school activities. I don’t know when he will begin to do that; but I am hopeful that it can be soon.
I met with Bishop Duracin and discussed St. Vincent’s at length. The Bishop asked that I coordinate the relief effort for St. Vincent’s working toward reconstruction of the facility. He has decided that in his global plan for reconstruction of the institutions of the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti that he will appoint a person (or a group of persons) to coordinate all those persons or entities interested in or involved with a particular institution. I will be that person for St. Vincent’s. St. Vincent’s will be reconstructed on its present sites (main campus, boy’s foyer). Some institutions of the Diocese may be relocated out of Port-au-Prince, but St. Vincent’s will not be one of them. The primary reason for this is that the majority of the children who attend school at St. Vincent’s are handicapped children who live at home and commute to the present location. To move the institution out of the capitol city would preclude those children from attending school. Also, the medical clinic treats children from Port-au-Prince, and the same principle applies. So, the buildings will be reconstructed on site. Bishop Duracin plans to have a group of engineers, both Haitian and American, assist in the effort of reconstruction of the facilities of the Diocese. Engineer assessments have already begun.
The debris in front of the main campus has been cleared and there is now access to the facility. Since the earthquake, looting has occurred and at St. Vincent’s everything left behind has been lost to thieves. Not only have those things not “tied down” been taken, but things such as window air conditioners, toilets, and yes, even the kitchen sink were stolen! Also gone are four new computers, the refrigerator in the guest area, all the musical instruments (except four guitars and the bells) as well as all mattresses and beds. You get the picture!
At this time, the initial engineer assessment indicates the following. The building housing the medical clinic has been totally destroyed. The building housing the brace shop, dental office, eye clinic, the director’s office, several classrooms, and the guest area will remain (with some work to be done on it). Already put in place are braces (floor to ceiling) in the brace shop because the outside wall will have to be repaired and the braces will keep the second floor in place. The top two floors of the building housing three floors of classrooms and the guest/staff eating area with kitchen will be taken down. It is felt that the ground floor will remain (how they take the top two floors off and keep the bottom floor in tact is beyond me!); yet that is the plan at this time, knowing that an additional assessment will be made after the top two floors are destroyed. The building that has depots and offices are the ground floor and the girl’s dormitory on the second floor will have to come down. The building behind that one (surgical suite, old music room, etc.) was damaged but survived and will stay.
At the Boy’s Foyer the building fronting the street is almost totally destroyed and the rest will have to come down. The main dormitory building is considered salvageable. The plan is to build a temporary structure at this location to begin school and a medical clinic. The offices adjacent to the Foyer belong to the Episcopal Church but have been leased to another organization for some time. Those offices have been reclaimed and are about to become temporary offices for Father Sadoni and his staff. I purchased a new laptop to be used by his secretary, and a new printer to be used by him and the staff.
Now, briefly, let me turn to Hospital St. Croix. We visited there and found temporary clinics at several locations on the campus. Doctors without Borders seemed to be in charge, although it was difficult to determine if any coordination was being done between them and Haitian medical personnel. The Church is still standing, but will be destroyed. Father Delicat told me that they are having services on the basketball court, with 450 in attendance. The school and the outdoor bandstand were both destroyed. The Director’s house and the hospital itself were severely damaged. The guest houses (one small house and a two story building) are totally gone. That is to say, they have been removed from the grounds – standing in front of them looking where they had been you are now looking right out to the street. The reconstruction of these facilities will be the responsibility of the Rev. John Talbird and the Hospital Board of Governor’s. I do not know the specific plans for reconstruction of this area.
That concludes my report. I am glad to talk to anyone about this in more detail if you want to call me (although I am unsure if I know anymore than what I have written here). The above information is based on initial assessments and obviously may change. In any case, we have a large task ahead of us. We have had considerable activity in fund raising and Ken has been very busy with receiving and acknowledging donations, answering inquiries, and communicating with people interested in St. Vincent’s. That list has grown considerably! I pray this finds you all in good health and I look forward to our continued ministry on behalf of the children of St. Vincent’s. May God continue to bless your lives and your ministry.
Bill Squire, director, Children’s Medical Mission of Haiti
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