Please read this article about Haiti's current condition
LA Times - Opinion
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Please read this article about Haiti's current condition
Posted by Lori West at 9:20 AM
Friday, May 7, 2010
The kids have all grown up so much! It's amazing! All those little boys are all talking so much and have left so much of the baby behind!!!!
The little house thay they have been living in is such a blessing, as so many in other places are still stuck outside in the elements. It is quite a hot little building, but 6 ceiling fans help a lot. There are some holes that need to be patched up, as we discovered when it really pours hard, some water finds its way in! There are three little rooms, and everyone has their own bed. The workers have been doing a great job of making do, and the kids look so healthy! For sure the regular scabies and impetigo, but nothing too crazy to deal with right there, thanks to all the supplies that I was able to bring in! THANKS SO MUCH for the polysporing and anti-fungal creams, and the funds to get many other medical supplies that we so needed! It was so wonderful to have everything I needed while I was there! I was also able to purhase some supplies while I was down in Haiti, and this really helped in some areas that were lacking.
The first few days were tough....so much to try and tackle, and then Yvenel's funeral, taking Michael back to his Haitian family, and then having a little baby get really sick, all in one day, really fried my brain for a couple days. I really had to slow down and one night my mind was just whirring and God just spoke to me about some things that I hadn't thought out too well in all of that, so I just had to slow down and pay attention.
It was funny to be there, with this big house that appears to only have superficial cracks, and have everyone outside! Really hard to kind of wrap my mind around!Though, I did decide, that in the future on really bad mosquito nights, I will most certainly be pulling out a tent!! Best bug net ever!!!!
Things are running pretty well, but I did decide that if the kids are going to be in that circumstance for a while, there is going to be need for a large cement pad to be laid in the back yard, with a shade of some sort! There is not really a clean place for the kids to play, out of the dirt(mud when it rains) and out of the sun at some times of the day. This would help a lot with the scabies we have been struggling with as the kids seem to always end up in the dirt after bathtime!
Please continue to pray for the planning of the future of HCH as there are a lot of things on the table right now and some big decisions to be made in the near future!
Mathieu, our Haitian director, has been doing an amazing job! He has taken many projects on to make things as they are as best as possible. I was quite blessed and amazed to see him getting his hands dirty along with everyone, really striving to make the best of things! We are so blessed to have him there! Please pray for him as he carries this huge responsibility!
It was so different to be there with so many of my kids gone! I always felt like we were missing someone, especially when we took the kids swimming or on walks, and well, we were! The group is so young now compared to when I arrived in 2007!! There are only 6 kids over three years old now! Crazy! So different! I was thinking onw night that I need to ravamp my kids songs repetoire, as most of them are a little old for the huge group of toddlers that are part of the singing group! And they LOVE to sing!
Please continue to pray for adoptions. They are opening up again, and we have about 33 kids who need homes! Lots of little boys looking for a family! We do have some files already on the way, so it's pretty exciting to see things moving along and God answering prayer!
Posted by Lori West at 1:58 PM
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Well, I am on my way home and I figured I might as well start to jot down some thoughts about my trip. Mostly, I just can’t believe how fast 2 weeks can go by! Crazy! And Lame!
So…thoughts, notes, experiences, etc…
I drove in Port a few days after I arrived to drop a volunteer off at the airport and pick up a few things for HCH. On my way in I had seen a few glimpses of the effects of Jan. 12th, but not too much in the airport area. It blew my mind.I have NEVER seen anything like the effects of a huge earthquake firsthand, and it was really hard to absorb. I had seen many,many pictures, but actually seeing the destruction was quite devastating. I think it hit home the most when I saw the little store that we used to go to to do back-room-money-for-cheque-exchanges with the friendly Syrians(it’s not nearly as shady as it sounds). It was in a three story building that had been reduced to 2. The first floor was completely flattened. You could have literally walked in the door of what used to be a second floor store, now right at street level. I hadn’t known until that point that “One-Stop” had been destroyed and no one around seemed to know anything about our Syrian friends, or the super-nice owner Terrick who used to give us discounts and stuff that wasn’t selling in the store. This really threw me for a loop and thankfully we were just a couple blocks from one of our destinations cuz I wasn’t in a good state for driving in crazy Port-au-Prince. I was really thankful to find out that everyone inside had managed to make it out before the building fell! AMAZING! Hope to see those friends next time I am in Haiti. Word is they are planning to start over in a new spot.
Building after building was closed and blocked off, merchants making use of the miles of now free-for-all fencing and such to display their goods. There is rebar poking out all over like a pile of pick-up-sticks, and everwhere you look, piles of cement arranged just-so in an attempt to be neat despite the overwhelming amount of rubble. And this is almost 4 months later! Still so much to do, and yet there was no mistaking the reality that the Haitian people have and continue to pull themselves out of the rubble. One of the hardest things I think to absorb was the tent cities that have sprung up in every nook and cranny not already taken up with a house or the remnants of a house. There were some streets that are now one way because one side of the street has become the property of the people who have literally been forced to camp out on the street. In some places, there were even tents set up on the meridian dividing traffic flowing in opposite directions. And by tents, I don’t always mean actual tents. Many were wanna-be shelters, made up of bits of cloth and plastic, and for the lucky ones, also a tarp, somehow stitched together like a giant puzzle, attached to some piece of wood or PVC pipe.
Made my tent look like Chateau Lake Louise.
It rained like nothing I have seen for a long time in Haiti on Sunday night….I almost started complaining. Then I thought of the fact that my tent was still dry (which was not the case for all of us at HCH actually….definitely had some stuff to dry out) and that we had the edge of the house to escape to during the majority of the downpour. Seriously, the majority if the yard was a lake. And a large number of Haitians had nowhere to go, the floor of their “tents” the very lake we watched grow in our yard. I got an even bigger understanding of this when I flew out today, the usual green-ishness of Haiti seen from the sky scarred with hundreds and hundreds of little blue dots, tarps housing those who had lost so much a few short months ago.
Posted by Lori West at 4:59 PM
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
I am here! Safe and sound and sweaty and surprised at all that has changed in the last 4 months! The trip was long, and I now know how to say this is the TSA blurb at the airport in Spanish, just from hearing about 3000 times on the long layover I had in Miami. To top off the ridiculous long layover, we got on the plane, and proceeded to sit there for 2 hours, then we all got off the plane and then 25 minutes later got back on the plane, then sat on the runway for 45 minutes to wait for a spot to take off! I FINALLY arrived in Haiti at noon yesterday, and it's so wonderful! As soon as we landed it was obvious how much things had changed.
Black helicoptors by the runway. Huge tents all around the airport area. New buildings. We got off the plane walked down some stairs, and then got into an airconditioned bus(!!!) to go to the new temp. immigration building! Crazy! Along the way we passed the old airport building, and you cuold see so so many cracks and damage on the outside walls. 3 plane had arrived at the same time, and all of those people were trying to find their stuff! And most of those people were N.American volunteers who all seemed to have as much luggage as me! Too much! But all so needed! Met some cool people, Haitian and North American alike who are doing great stuff in Haiti!
Totally surprised everyone! It was so great!
The kids look so great! Some have a few sores, but that is normal here, and considering they are outside 24hours a day pretty much, except to sleep, they are doing quite well! They have all grown so much! And all those little toddler boys are jsut talking up a storm! Too cute!
There are some things that make me cringe, but I constantly have to keep reminding myself about what happened here just a short time ago! The people here have done so well despite the circumstances! And the volunteers here are just so great!!! they have really helped to move things along here!
I've already started itching! Welcome back!
Posted by Lori West at 3:28 PM
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Many of you have been asking me for the list, so here it is!
This is the first list I received from Melissa who is at HCH right now. The items with ** are the things she sees they really need, the others would be nice to have for the kids, though not as high on the list!
So, I think I may be home on the weekend some to pick up things at my mom's and anything peoplet get together, as well as picking up things in Edmonton as needed. If you would rather give me funds and get me to pick up the items, I can do that as well.
Thanks so much for continuing to stay involved.
You can call me at 780-907-1340
Costco sized box of cheese and crackers(the ones that you spread the cheese on in the little packages)
Granola bars-large box, no nuts
**Bug spray (3/13.99 at costco)
2 Large tarps
Inflatable mattresses (2) and pump
**Pepto bismol 3-6 bottles of tablets
**Large bottle adult Tylenol (500 count or so)
**Immodium extra strength( 4 boxes)
Gravol 2 bottles of tablets
**Children’s gravol 3 packages
Battery powered or chargeable lantern
Costco sized box of Fruit-to-go
**2x2 gauzes…non sterile 4 large sleeves (easily found at medical supply stores like (Healthcare Solutions)
**4x4 guazes….non sterile. 4 large sleeves
**Gauze rolls (2”) 100 count
****Medical Gloves (size medium, non-sterile) 4 boxes
**Clotrimaderm (medical grade 1%) large tub or 10 tubes
**Triple antibiotic/polysporin 20 tubes+
**Tylenol and Advil childrens concentrated drops 20+ bottles
**Children’s cough medicine 3 large bottles (Dimatapp)
Small toys for toddlers 1-3 years
**Lysol wipes 3 regular containers
**Baby wash cloths-40 (ones at $ store are 3-4/$1 )
Normal face cloths
**for Kettline: size 5 shoes for church. As flat as possible
Assortment of birthday gifts-small things like balls, cars, toys, books, etc…mostly for toddler aged boys, and then 3 aged 1-2 girls, one gift for ketteline
**Bottle nipples for Playtex bottles. “natural latch” 10 each in slow, medium and fast flow
**8oz bottle liners -500+, any brand
**Nipples for regular hard bottles 10 each in slow, medium and fast flow
Posted by Lori West at 10:41 AM
Monday, April 5, 2010
This morning I spent visiting one of "my" kids that just came home recently after the earthquake. While I was heading home, I was in tears, with a mix of really missing Haiti, and thanfulness for how God placed this little guy in the home he is in.
Then, I decided I needed to go to Costco.
Shortly after arriving, I ran into an old friend, who also happens to have a heart for Haiti, and we talked Haiti and many other things, blocking the mini cucumbers the whole time to many shoppers' annoyance :) God knew where I was at emotionally and I felt so blessed that He sent that friend my way.
An hour later, on my way down the last aisle, I heard a smattering of what I thought was Haitian Creole, and after doing some eavsdropping, introduced myself to the man and woman setting up one of those delicious littel "taste-me" stations that we all know and love about Costco. I was soon in a fast paced conversation with my new Haitian friends, Merite and Carlo Moise. They were so surprised to meet a Creole speaking white girl in Edmonton! And to top it all off, they are from an area close to Mirebalais and know some of the same missionaries I do!! We have plans to get together soon.
Cool thing: I would not have met them if God had not slowed me down by having me spend an hour in a much needed conversation with the mini cucumbers.;)
Incredible thing: I had recently(as in 5 days ago) contemplated NOT renewing my Costco card.
And that is why God is cool. Amazing actually... and does things so much better than me.
Posted by Lori West at 6:05 PM
Saturday, March 27, 2010
So much has happened and is happening....
1. The biggest thing perhaps is that the house has been deemed unfit for the kids due to structural instability (engineers reports). So, until a few weekends ago, the kids were staying in tents outside in the yard(The UN had provided a large tent for them, as well as many tents that were brought in). The HCAS (Haiti Children's Aid Society) board and Melinda are working on figuring out when/where/how to move on . We are so blessed to have the Branson's on board with Paul's experience and willingness ability to help!
2. Melinda's new husband Massenat and Amanda, were given humanitarian visa's from the states right after the earthquake. This was an answer to prayer! However, it means that Pat and Melinda are in the states for a couple of years with their families. Melinda had been planning to go in and out of Haiti, but has recently been held up with complications of a new pregnancy. They are staying at a mission compound in Florida, but would like another place to stay over the next while.
3. All of the kids who were in the adoption process were united with their forever families on or before February 3rd/2010. There were a few weeks of incredible stress levels as people waited to hear what was happening with their children. I was cleaning out my inbox the other day after seeing that there were over 1000 emails in there. As I was cleaning it out, I realized that over 3/4 of them were from the 5 weeks after the earthquake! Crazy!
4. Minnie has stayed on in Haiti (though she will be leaving soon for a much needed and deserved break as more volunteers are coming in) and was joined by Hannah and her brother James. They have all been such a blessing, and we were actually really lucky to have James around to help out with his shed-building experience!
5. We put out a plea a few weeks ago to some volunteers who had spent a lot of time at HCH who we felt would be able to be effective and handle the new circumstances at HCH. God was already working in their hearts, and within a few weeks the calendar was full, and we have now have at least 4 people there throughout the summer months and into the early fall. God is so good! We didnt know what would happen as we are only taking expereinced volunteers, but God knew all along!
6. Shae Hellman, a longtime friend of the Smith's, and fellow Haiti lover/addict, will be heading down in June for a more long term stint. This is something God has been preparing her for for a while and has really worked out the timing with Pat and Melinda being in the states, and Shae's job being able to let her go earlier than initially thought! She was also able to go in for about 2 weeks after the earthquake and was of great value!
7. We are slowly hearing little bits about adoptions perhaps starting up again. So many "stories" and such to muddle through, but it seems that IBESR (social services) is up and running again, and so hopefully in short order we will be able to connect our kids with many great families who have had adoption on their minds long before the earthquake slowed things up! Pray that we would get all of the correct details and that God would really work through all the UNICEF hoops that seem to entangle so much of the process!
8. We have only had one child join HCH since the earthquake, due to the instability of the situation and many unknowns. Currently, due to housing and other factors, we are not taking in any children for permanent care.
9.Food prices have been driven up drastically in Haiti since the EQ, and at times it has been difficult to locate necessities due to the dramatic increase in population Mirebalais has seen since the EQ. People fleeing Port-au-Prince have gone to the larger rural areas, Mirebalais being among the many now grossly overpoplulated areas. We have been blessed with many supplies from two groups of friends across the border in the Dominican, the Yoder's and the Branson's. They also helped bring in and take out volunteers shortly after the earthquake when the airport in Haiti was not running.
10. The kids have been quite healthy. Some typical sores and such that we expereince on a regular basis with the heat and dust in Haiti, but God has been so good. He has really kept them in the palm of His hand!
11. Melinda is hoping to get a computer up and running in her house soon, and will be able to communicate via email and the blog and such more easily. Right now they only have a few minutes here and there at the mission office, and Melinda has actually been on bed rest. Please keep her in your prayers.
12. Pat fell a few days ago and hurt her arm. There was some concern for a while, but she seems to be healing well and as of Thursday was getting back into doing what she usually does! Can't keep her down for long!
what else?? please ask me about things you are wondering about. I will try and address them here as I have been realizing how many questions people have.
Posted by Lori West at 8:34 AM