In the wake of the terrible destruction from the 12, January 2010, earthquake in Haiti. St Paul’s High School will be collecting funds that will be sent to the Jesuit office in Toronto for disbursement directly to the Jesuits living in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
If you are interested in donating, please contact the Advancement Office at (204) 831-2332. Please make cheques payable to St Paul's High School.
As a community, let’s show our support for a nation in dire need.
The letter below is a direct account from a Canadian Jesuit novice on his own and his fellow novice's experience of the recent quake. Clearly the account is intense and thought provoking.
You will notice a number of typographical errors which are understandable considering the strenuous circumstances surrounding the writing of this message.
We (Edmund Lo, the other Jesuit novice) arrived here in Haiti January 5th, and we came with the intention of being here until June 1st. We already started working at the Jesuit-run Highschool, St Ignace, for grades 7 to 12, two days after arriving at
Port-Au-Prince. We were supposed to teach English, Organic Chemistry (both of us
studied Sciences, Edmund has a Masters in Neuroscience from UBC, and I have an Honours B.Sc. in Molecular Biology from McMaster University), and also lead the physical education program, organizing basketball practices.
On the day of the earthquake, we went to school as normal, and when it struck, we were at our house, we live in the Delmas 31 district. I was on the second floor and Edmund also. The floor began literally to 'swim', that was my experience of it. There were loud crashes around us since both of our neighbours' houses crashed, and a third house was partially damaged. Our house was left unharmed except for a few cracks but these aren't very serious.
Right after the earthquake, many injured and wounded Haitians came to us and we cleaned and tended their wounds with our first-aid kits, that is, with water and rubbing alcohol, as well as with Iodine, we cleaned the wounds, then we applied bandages. I would say at least 12-15 people from our neighbourhood came to us like this. The wounds were mostly to the head, as the ceiling most likely fell on their heads. Some wounds were as big as 1.5 cm wide, and the skull was visible. They were very serious.
Currently there is aid coming in, much of it, but they are not at the level of distributing it. At our local level, we haven't seen any of the aid, nor have other local districts. I hear that the port is damaged and so it is taking a long time for them to come in. Also the airport is very small and so a limited number of planes can land. Surprisingly, the mood isn't that negative, people sing at nights, mostly religious hymns, they dance, and they try to stay positive, though there is a tension in the air because of the lack of food. NONE OF THE SUPERMARKETS ARE OPEN!!! The only food that can be bought is off the streets, where people sell fruits, vegetables, etc. For 2 million people,this isn't enough, and the haitians have raised the prices significantly trying to make a profit of this disaster!! This is what is terrible. Peopl don't work and so they cannot afford to pay almost twice as much for their basic foods. Water is also scarse, but today they finally opened the water station in the neighbourhood, though I don't know how long the water will last since they have to deliver it on a regular basis.
People are afraid to be indoors, though some houses remained untouched. As for my community of four Jesuits, three of us, Edmund, Ramiro (A spanish Jesuit) and myself, all stay indoors for the night and we are not scared that the house will cave in, though the fourth member, a Haitian Jesuit, is very scared to enter the house at times, so he sleeps outside on the street, in the car. It is a haitian cultural thing I noticed, they are ALL afraid of the earthquake coming back with a big bang and bringing all the buildings down again. So they are all out of their houses for the day and also for the night, sleeping in fields, and in front of their houses. They call us three white Jesuits: Crazy white people, because we sleep indoors for the night.
Today Edmund and I went to work with the Missionaries of Charity (the religious community founded by Mother Theresa),and we wend down into the slums to tend the wounded and give out medicine, antibiotics, and cleaning wounds, as well as giving out clothing etc. We also helped transport very wounded people to the hospital. The hospital situation is a very grim one: there are NOT ENOUGH DOCTORS here, people are dying before they get to them at times, and others, by the time they get there, they are so infected that they will surely die. Today, when we arrived with a few people, the doctors looked at them and said: these three (out of four people) will die forsure. What can we do? We did our best to get them there, but too late.That's about it for now. I'm attaching a few pictures, not the best, but something. Edmund is the one with the shaved head, and the other
one is myself.