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.
TUESDAY | DAY NINE
It’s a breakfast consisting of a cup of Lyons tea with some oatmeal biscuits, courtesy of a surprise emergency pack that Frank Coughlan put in, along with the sheets and blankets he sent us last week. We had been so run off our feet that we hadn’t opened the bag, so we were doubly delighted this morning.
It is down to visit the orphanage and make sure everyone is okay, see the children, and say hello. We then stop by the medical centre to look over the damage to the roof and consultation rooms. It will need a good deal of work to get things functional again, and the already old equipment in some cases is now not fit for use.
We head over to the office to start preparing Haven’s strategy and recovery plan for Île à Vache. There are a lot of components to consider: food security, health, agriculture, fishing, commerce, shelter and sanitation are just some of the headings we discuss.
Our shopping arrives from Port au Prince, again thanks to Frank. It is a dream shop, so we are all heading home for lunch, more cups of tea, and sandwiches. All credit to fancy lunches, but I think tea and sandwiches on the porch is one of the nicest mid-day meals we have had in the past week. Nil aon tintean mar do thintean féin!
The afternoon is occupied with more report preparation, budgeting, and calls for aid. We are still urgently looking for the support material to respond to a potential cholera outbreak. The lack of back-up to Les Cayes is what makes our situation all the more tenuous. The mayor of Les Cayes tries to declare a three-month state of emergency; the law contains compulsory acquisition powers, and we are relieved that it does not pass Senate.
The office is a hub of activity as, at the same time, half of the team are busy making home food kits. We bought bags locally and are dividing out the rice, beans, and all the other supplies to make a sizable food kit for each household. We make 102 kits for distribution tomorrow. Bags are purchased in the local village, and four people are on assembly, while the rest of us are taking turns filling marmites (think of an old Homecook marmalade-size tin = one marmite) of rice.
The evening grows late; the mosquitoes are biting when we leave the office and head for home. It is too late to face into cooking a meal so it is sandwiches and tea all around again. God Bless Frank!