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.
MONDAY | DAY EIGHT
Kaykok has received aid, as has Trois Millieu and Cachiman. The team will continue on to Seulette, La Hatte and Figue next, while we will work out at the other end of the island. The team agree to distribute 400 kits to Caynobert, Peletin, Cayes à L’Eau, Îlet à Bwi, and Point Est. Jean Sauny of EDEM and Village Vacances has the stock in depot, so we start loading the three boats. It is a morning of activity and, once filled, they leave on what will be a long journey.
We head back to Port Morgan to look again at logistics, and then on to Madame Bernard to the depot. The market in Madame Bernard is operating today. Produce is scarce and prices are really high. The depots in Les Cayes have pushed prices up, in an effort to recoup their losses and due to limited supply and high demand.
The elevated prices are putting all our commerce and people’s purchasing power under real stress. To add to this, the influx of free aid will reduce competitiveness and undercut the producers and suppliers in the area. To alleviate this, Haven is buying emergency aid, such as water, rice and spaghetti, through local suppliers.
We check in with St Boniface Hospital; the stroke patient is stable. His walk and talk is extremely limited and he will need a lot of therapy.
The team get word very late of a plane landing in Les Cayes with food and tarpaulins. It is too valuable a shipment to not collect immediately, so we pull in favours from our partners, FONTEN, in Les Cayes. They wait at the airport, while we find a boat and get on our way to meet them. The United Nations helps us out, and a truck is on the way to the airport by the time we arrive. The boat is at the dock and we have a fifteen minute turnaround before heading back to Madame Bernard. Everything is in the depot by 8pm.
The guys from the distribution boat are not too long ahead of us. They have had a long but a good day. Thirty kits came back as things were getting disorganised in Point Est. A local public figure wanted to do things differently and it created havoc, so the team wisely abandoned the distribution.
In general, the aid is well received and the Civil Protection has a system that can used to be as fair is as possible. It is important that we follow that, and, although we are only the support team, we want to work as one unit.
Another exhausting day, but this one a more positive one. Distribution is underway across the island, and aid is reaching people.
It is pertinent to keep in mind John Lydgate’s quote: “You can please some of the people all of the time; you can please all of the people some of the time; but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.
For me, it is also a good day. I get back home to my house on the hill. We have no water, electricity or WiFi, but it is nice to get back there all the same.