Ailish O’Reilly is Haven’s Programmes Manager in Haiti. She was on the island of Île à Vache off the south coast of Haiti when Hurricane Matthew hit last week. Here, she tells us of the experience and of the devastation caused to the community.
FRIDAY | DAY FIVE
Sing hallelujah, we awake to sunshine and blue skies!
This means we can start to dry out houses and their contents, and wash clothes and linen. We are still on an energy roll from the injection of resources and help into our aid efforts.
Friday morning starts with an early meeting, and then we head to the village of Madame Bernard. We have a team on Depot and another on Logistics. It’s hard work as the weather is extremely hot; we forget to record temperature. This again may be post-hurricane weather and, in our 20-foot metal container, this heat is intensified.
We still have no proper WiFi or connectivity on phones or laptops. It is very frustrating trying to co-ordinate; stay in touch with the teams; connect in with home; and keep all equipment charged. I get back online with my family around 11am, but, by 12pm, I’m off the air again. It was a brief window of hello’s, and I get to read all my backed-up messages from my daughter and siblings. It’s a very nice moment for me.
The field team go out to visit the areas around Kaykok, and the three satellite islands: Peletin, Cayes à L’Eau and Îlet à Bwi. The holiday resort at Abaka Bay is under sand, all up through the restaurant and up to the beach houses. Ynold, one of the hotel workers, tells of his fear as he watched the waves grow higher and higher as they slammed the beach. He headed to higher ground to take shelter under a fallen roof.
The outlying islands are reduced in size. On Cayes à L’Eau, the water entered the church, even though it is five feet off the ground. Reconnaissance identify one potential stroke patient, and Abi works to get medical support. Miraculously, no one was killed on any of these small land masses, especially the handmade Îlet à Bwi.
Back in Madame Bernard, the depot is being cleared to make way for aid deliveries. Many commitments are coming in but, again, only the water purchased by Haven arrives. We are trying to buoy spirits by reminding ourselves that it is too early yet and, with all these commitments of help, it will be okay.
Our Country Director, John Moore, arrives in Madame Bernard. He meets with Mayor Amazon Jean Yves to assure him of our support for the recovery of Île à Vache. John clears the way for a first delivery of aid. The team take part of the water consignment and we head back to the small islands with a delivery of water and rice. It is not much but maybe will alleviate the situation for one night.
It is full darkness when we arrive at the final island. They accept the aid gratefully and with thanks. We still have to go to Madame Bernard, collect some of the team and then head to Kaykok where we are all staying tonight.
Back in Kaykok, we get another bout of internet access. It is like an addict getting their fix – regular contact or news from the outside. We are hungry to catch up on all that is happening. All of the messages and good wishes are lovely to hear and read.
We still can’t post videos from Île à Vache and my WhatsApp will receive but not send messages. I just read and read every bit of news I can. Then it is off to bed to await the morning, when everyone in Ireland will be up out of bed and back online.
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